Originally published at WhoWhatWhy.org
The US has spent billions and billions of dollars in Afghanistan, and has little to show for it.
Between 2001 and 2017, the US government largely failed in its massive, ambitious, and expensive effort to stabilize dangerous areas in Afghanistan. Under immense pressure to succeed in that mission, US government agencies spent far too much money, far too quickly, in a country woefully unprepared to absorb it.
Opportunities for corruption and resource misallocation flourished, making many of those projects far more harmful than helpful.
That bleak assessment is the conclusion of a recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which showed just how complex the situation in Afghanistan has been, and how the US-led coalition failed to achieve its objectives.
One objective was “stabilization.” Stabilization means keeping insurgents out of an area after they have been expelled by security forces.
Experts believe that this is a key area in which the US has failed.
In a previous interview with WhoWhatWhy, Special Inspector John F. Sopko said the biggest waste was the $8 billion spent on counternarcotics, which “hasn’t really accomplished much of anything.” Another recent SIGAR report on US counternarcotics efforts confirms that, in spite of these massive US expenditures, Afghanistan remains the world’s largest opium producer.
Other examples of waste: $30 million for a crop program nobody wanted, and $50 million on unusable cargo planes.
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