At least in Syria, the Russians were able to show up to a conflict zone, achieve their desired military results, and pack up and leave. We Americans, on the other hand, seem to spend 10+ years in places without even figuring out what our goals might be. “The Bidding War” is a March 7, 2016 New Yorker article that sheds some light on the subject:
America’s war in Afghanistan, which is now in its fifteenth year, presents a mystery: how could so much money, power, and good will have achieved so little? Congress has appropriated almost eight hundred billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan; a hundred and thirteen billion has gone to reconstruction, more than was spent on the Marshall Plan, in postwar Europe.
One result has been forms of corruption so extreme that the military has, in some cases, funded its own enemy. When a House committee investigated the trucking system that supplied American forces, it found that the system had “fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” Its report concluded that “protection payments for safe passage are a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban.”
The system has also made a few individuals very rich. Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner [in his late 20s], earned more than a hundred and sixty million dollars while contracting for the United States military;
- Who finances the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? We do. (a 2009 posting where I asked “Who has been financing these guys for eight years? What if the answer is ‘us’?”)