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Saturday, January 02, 2010 6:34 PM


Email From Afghanistan on "Waste of War"


On New Years' eve I exchanged emails with "BP", a soldier in Afghanistan regarding Vermont State Employees Union Votes For 3% Pay Cut.

"BP" just pinged me again with ...

You really need to do something on the waste of this war. Foreign contractors are everywhere you look.

KBR must have 4 civilians for every military member. There are a few American contractors but most seem to be Foreign nationals. Philippine nationals are everywhere. I'm sure they get paid peanuts so the KBR shareholders get their return.
56,000 More Contractors Likely

Please consider Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says.
The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service.

CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000.

The CRS study says contractors made up 69 percent of the Pentagon's personnel in Afghanistan last December, a proportion that "apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by the Defense Department in any conflict in the history of the United States."
Immense Waste In Unwinnable War

Thanks "BP". Yes the waste of this war is immense. One of the best pieces I have seen lately mentioning the war is from James Howard Kunstler's Forecast 2010.
Geopolitics

The retracement of oil prices in 2009 took place against a background of relative quiet on the geopolitical scene. With economies around the world sinking into even deeper extremis in 2010, friction and instability are more likely. The more likely locales for this are the places where most of the world's remaining oil is: the Middle East and Central Asia. The American army is already there, in Iraq and Afghanistan, with an overt pledge to up-the-ante in Afghanistan.

It's hard to imagine a happy ending in all this. It's increasingly hard to even imagine a strategic justification for it. My current (weakly-held) notion is that America wants to make a baloney sandwich out of Iran, with American armies in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Wonder Bread, to "keep the pressure on" Iran. Well, after quite a few years, it doesn't seem to be moderating or influencing Iran's behavior in any way.

Meanwhile, Pakistan becomes more chaotic every week and our presence in the Islamic world stimulates more Islamic extremist hatred against the USA. Speaking of Pakistan, there is the matter of its neighbor and adversary, India. If there is another terror attack by Pakistan on the order of last year's against various targets in Mumbai, I believe the response by India is liable to be severe next time, leading to God-knows-what, considering both countries have plenty of atom bombs.

Otherwise, the idea that we can control indigenous tribal populations in some of Asia's most forbidding terrain seems laughable. I don't have to rehearse the whole "graveyard of empires" routine here. But what possible geo-strategic advantage is in this for us? What would it matter if we pacified all the Taliban or al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Most of the hardest core maniacs are next door in Pakistan.

Even if we turned Afghanistan into Idaho-East, with Kabul as the next Sun Valley, complete with Ralph Lauren shops and Mario Batali bistros, Pakistan would remain every bit as chaotic and dangerous in terms of supplying the world with terrorists. And how long would we expect to remain in Afghanistan pacifying the population? Five years? Ten Years? Forever? It's a ridiculous project.

What's more, our presence there seems likely to stimulate more terror incidents here in the USA. We've been supernaturally lucky since 2001 that there hasn't been another incident of mass murder, even something as easy and straightforward as a shopping mall massacre or a bomb in a subway. Our luck is bound to run out. There are too many "soft" targets and our borders are too squishy. Small arms and explosives are easy to get in the USA. I predict that 2010 may be the year our luck does run out. ...
No Strategic Justification

Kunstler is correct. There is no strategic justification; the war is not winnable; and we do not even know where the major threat is.

How many trillions have we wasted on "Star Wars" initiatives? Yet since the end of the cold war, the big threat never was nor ever will be, countries firing missiles at us. The big threat to the US so far has been improper security procedures on airplanes and schools.

Nut cases are everywhere. Proof enough can be found in the US when Timothy McVeigh blew up a building, and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were responsible for the Columbine High School massacre.

It's important to remember "terror" is a method. A war on terror makes no sense because one cannot win a war on a method.

Externally, the most important thing to note is the longer we meddle in the internal affairs of other countries the more enemies we make.

In spite of the fact that Iraq was never a strategic threat to the US, we wasted $694 billion there as noted in Cost of Iraq war will surpass Vietnam. Add in future medical liabilities and money hidden elsewhere and the cost of Iraq easily exceeds $1 trillion. We can thank idiot Bush and Congressional morons for that mess.

Now Obama is about to throw more money down the Afghanistan black hole. Like Iraq, Afghanistan is another Vietnam. It will not cost as many lives but it is just as stupid and economically will cost as much if we stay for a few more years.

Why Do They Hate Us?

War mongers like to tout "they hate us for our freedoms". Well, no they don't. If that was the reason, they would hate New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Germany, Iceland, and dozens of other countries.

They hate the US because ...

  • We have troops in 150 countries
  • We support corrupt regimes
  • We needlessly meddle in the internal affairs of other countries
  • We have a one-sided policy on Israel
  • We are hypocrites on free trade and human rights

The more we keep troops all over the world, the more enemies we make. Eventually it will bankrupt us. The only sane solution is to declare the war won and leave, not just Afghanistan, but 149 other countries as well.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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