The cost of foreign interventions

Take these numbers and cram them down the throats of everyone who declares the USA absolutely has to intervene in the latest round of Levantine slaughter:

By the end of the year, Congress will have appropriated more money for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, when adjusted for inflation, than the United States spent rebuilding 16 European nations after World War II under the Marshall Plan.

A staggering portion of that money — $104 billion — has been mismanaged and stolen. Much of what was built is crumbling or will be unsustainable. Well-connected Afghans smuggled millions of stolen aid money in suitcases that were checked onto Dubai-bound flights. The Afghan government largely turned a blind eye to widespread malfeasance. Even as revelations of fraud and abuse stacked up, the United States continued shoveling money year after year because cutting off the financial spigot was seen as a sure way to doom the war effort.

As the Pentagon winds down its combat mission there at the end of the year, it’s tempting to think of the Afghan war as a chapter that is coming to an end — at least for American taxpayers. But, as things stand, the United States and its allies will continue paying Afghanistan’s bills for the foreseeable future. That commitment was solidified Tuesday as the American ambassador in Kabul and Afghanistan’s security adviser signed a bilateral security agreement that will keep a small contingent of NATO troops there for at least two years.

The United States and NATO partners recently agreed to spend $5.1 billion a year to pay for the army and police, until at least 2017. Western donors are expected to continue to give billions more for reconstruction and other initiatives, recognizing that Afghanistan won’t be weaned off international aid anytime soon. In fact, the government appears to be broke.

The actual figure is $109 billion. That is nearly $1,000 per taxpayer. And what did you get for your money? It’s one thing to say “we must do this” or “we must do that”. But then, recollect that it’s going to cost you over $1,000 in order to feel good about pretending to prevent one group of murderous foreigners from killing another group of foreigners, who not infrequently were previously murdering the other group.

And, of course, that doesn’t count the $42.50 you’ll be spending every year on the Afghan army and police. Or the social and economic costs of importing the inevitable allies and refugees to the USA and settling them there.