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Hi-ho, Hi-ho/ It’s off to war we go/ With a hip-hip-hooray/ We’ll send ISIS on its way/ Hi-ho, Hi-ho!
Here we go again – into yet another war in a tumultuous swath of the world involved in centuries-old conflagrations we Euro-centric Americans don’t comprehend and cannot resolve. For a preview of what we’re stepping into in Iraq and Syria, let’s remember Afghanistan.
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Beginning in the yesteryear of the Cheney-Bush regime, the promise was that our Afghan excursion would promptly dispatch the Taliban and create a stable democratic government. But it turned out to be both the longest war in American history and a dismal failure on all counts – with more than 2,000 US deaths, nearly twenty thousand of our troops horribly maimed, and over a trillion dollars spent. What have we won?
Far from defeated, the Taliban is again on the offensive – Afghanistan’s elections are a farce, government corruption is flagrant and rampant, the infrastructure we built is already crumbling, there is no national unity, and more than $100 billion of the money we sent for reconstruction and training was simply stolen by the elites and shipped in suitcases to their foreign bank accounts.
The good news is that our nation’s Afghan debacle is scheduled to end this year. The bad news is that it won’t – a contingent of U.S. troops will remain, we will keep paying $5 billion a year to sustain the Afghan army and police, and we’re on the hook for billions more each year to fund that country’s bankrupt government.
So Hi-ho, Hi-ho – off we go to Syria, Iraq, and beyond for what is already being called “a long war.” The tab just for the direct military cost of this latest misadventure will be as much as $22 billion a year. How much good would that money do if we invested it here in our own people?