Another analysis of the review of "progress in Afghanistan" released this week.
We're spending $100 billion a year on a country that had a gross domestic product of a little more than $2 billion when we invaded in 2001. We manage this feat only by helping to fund both sides of the conflict (much of the aid ends up in the hands of the Taliban as well as regional warlords who don't support the Karzai government). The military focus displaces attention that should be devoted to regional diplomacy and a political settlement within Afghanistan
She then focuses on how this multi-billion investment plays out at home:
Missing in the president's review are the actual costs of the war. That includes what economists call "opportunity costs," or what we miss by continuing this course. By 2014, this administration will have spent more than $700 billion on Afghanistan directly. Poverty is an unfashionable word in Washington, but it afflicts a record 43 million Americans. Childhood poverty is rising. Nationally, only one in seven black male teens held any type of job in the first quarter of this year. We should not fool ourselves: A generation of children raised on dangerous streets is being condemned to a life of misery - hunger, broken families, unemployment, drugs and crime. The nation we are failing to build in Afghanistan is our own.
If poverty is too liberal a concern, consider the costs of Afghanistan to our economic competitiveness. America is literally falling apart. Our aged and decrepit infrastructure is becoming a clear and present danger. Lives are lost when a bridge falls in Minneapolis or the levees collapse in New Orleans. SUVs are swallowed by collapsing sewage systems in New York. Children go to schools judged dangerous to their health. Hours are lost when aged train switches freeze, sewer systems collapse or traffic snarls. Even the basics of civilization, such as access to clean water, are increasingly at risk because of aging and leaky sewage systems. Our electric grid, our broadband system and our transportation system all lag behind those of global competitors. Combine the $700 billion spent in Afghanistan and the $700 billion to be squandered on tax breaks for the richest 1 percent of Americans over the next decade, and you have real money, even for Washington. Money that this increasingly challenged country can no longer afford to waste.
And finally the investment in human capital echos John Kerrys words about Vietnam.
Notably absent in the commentary about the president's review, too, are the war's human costs. The service of those in our volunteer army is routinely praised on all sides. The Democratic Congress under President George W. Bush and Obama committed itself to improving military pay, educational benefits and medical and psychological care. But celebrating servicemembers' courage ignores the basic question: How do you ask young men and women to give their life or limbs for a cause that you know is lost? Or worse, has no justifiable purpose?
To Sum it up: We ain't learned nothin yet and our war profits industries and their "Masters of War" do not want to learn about the consequences of their profits.