US Documented Total Failure in Afghanistan for the past 12 Years

America’s two decade long war in Afghanistan is over. The Taliban has taken Kabul, president Ashraf Ghani has fled, and planes are flying out of Kabul airport bearing American allies and personnel. The speed at which the U.S.-backed Afghan government fell is only shocking if you haven’t been reading the U.S. government’s own reports, which for years have been documenting its failed reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The U.S. has wasted billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and millions of hours trying to rebuild Afghanistan, and recorded its failures in stunning detail in reports available to anyone who wants to read them…

We know about a goat farm and other failed efforts because of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a government agency that started keeping track of the war and its material costs in 2008. Since then, the agency has kept detailed records of its investigations into the more than $144 billion the U.S. set aside for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The office has produced special reports, such as the one about the goats, and quarterly reports for more than a decade. The history of the war is in those thousands of pages of documents. It’s a story of hubris, corruption, and abject failure. The warning signs were there to anyone who wanted to read them.

RTFA. Money wasted on economic projects, wasted trying to build an army that mirrored the US Military – which meant it was incompetent to work and function in Afghanistan. And all of this gets a big “OF COURSE” because we did the same in ‘Nam and pretty much every other nation outside of Europe and North America where we stuck our unwanted noses.

50 years coming up…

One of my favorite young journalists – Ramy Inocencio, now at CBS – was teargassed in Hong Kong. His first time suffering that particular insult. I recall my first time – back in New Haven – the weekend of the Ohio National Guard killing four anti-war protesters at Kent State University in 1970.

Yup..never again. If you believe that crap…

Trump talks walls – China builds bridges


Presidents and First Ladies of China and Ecuador, this week

❝ An expected U.S. economic retreat from Latin America under Donald Trump is causing the region’s leaders to look halfway around the world, to China, for help weathering the possible financial headwinds.

They’ll have the perfect opportunity to make their appeal this week when Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a Pacific Rim summit as part of a visit to Ecuador, Peru and Chile…

❝ Over the past decade China has displaced the U.S. as the main trading partner in country after country in Latin America as demand for the region’s soybeans, oil and iron ore fueled the fastest growth in decades. But more recently, as China’s demand for raw materials has been slowing, the region’s economies have taken a hit, dampening the once-torrid love affair with the world’s second-biggest economy.

❝ Margaret Myers, a China expert at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, said that most South American countries have awoken to the pitfalls of dependence on commodity exports and would prefer closer ties to the U.S., which buys the sort of manufacturing goods that generate more jobs.

“But the question is whether the U.S. will reciprocate,” she says. “Nobody in the region is expecting much from Trump in terms of really productive policy. That leaves room for China to play a much more important role.”…

❝ To be sure, a U.S.-China trade war would have ripple effects across Chinese industry that would also depress demand for Latin America’s raw materials.

But for now Chinese businessmen attending the APEC summit see nothing but potential.

As far as I can see – in the view from Lot 4 – China’s foreign policy is more likely to result in mutual growth. Certainly, a predictable difference between investing nations whose “long-term” view means the next election, if not the next quarter – on one hand – and investing nations and parties concerned with a five to ten-year window of change. Usually, progressive in being focused on stable growth.

Asia’s Multilateralism


That’s Bob Shiller’s book on Irrational Exuberance on the shelf

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are poised to hold their annual meetings, but the big news in global economic governance will not be made in Washington DC in the coming days. Indeed, that news was made last month, when the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy joined more than 30 other countries as founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The $50 billion AIIB, launched by China, will help meet Asia’s enormous infrastructure needs, which are well beyond the capacity of today’s institutional arrangements to finance.

One would have thought that the AIIB’s launch, and the decision of so many governments to support it, would be a cause for universal celebration. And for the IMF, the World Bank, and many others, it was. But, puzzlingly, wealthy European countries’ decision to join provoked the ire of American officials. Indeed, one unnamed American source accused the UK of “constant accommodation” of China. Covertly, the United States put pressure on countries around the world to stay away.

In fact, America’s opposition to the AIIB is inconsistent with its stated economic priorities in Asia. Sadly, it seems to be another case of America’s insecurity about its global influence trumping its idealistic rhetoric – this time possibly undermining an important opportunity to strengthen Asia’s developing economies.

China itself is a testament to the extent to which infrastructure investment can contribute to development. Last month, I visited formerly remote areas of the country that are now prosperous as a result of the connectivity – and thus the freer flow of people, goods, and ideas – that such investments have delivered.

The AIIB would bring similar benefits to other parts of Asia, which deepens the irony of US opposition. President Barack Obama’s administration is championing the virtues of trade; but, in developing countries, lack of infrastructure is a far more serious barrier to trade than tariffs.

A generally wholistic understanding of the workings of the global economy is just one of the reasons Joe Stiglitz was honored with the Nobel Prize in economics. It ain’t a bad start.

RTFA and understand why modern economists think our government’s hypocrisy ain’t new – just backwards for a couple new reasons.

Who’s missing in this picture?

#ParisStrong
Click to enlarge

Yup. Wall Street runs our government and the alphabet soup of obedience and fear – NSA, CIA, FBI – stage manage our imperial foreign policy.

That means if Homeland Insecurity deems it possible for some nutball terrorist to knock off our “fearless” leader – he stays home and watches the NFL on the telly instead of marching side-by-side with the leaders of our allies.

Congress authorized Vietnam War under bullshit pretense – 50 years ago, today


President Johnson signs “Gulf of Tonkin” resolutionCecil Stoughton/White House Photograph Office

After just nine hours of deliberation, both houses of Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution today in 1964. The bill authorizing the United States to officially go to war with Vietnam was signed by President Lyndon Johnson three days later. Of course, the United States had been increasingly involved in Vietnam at least since 1955, when then-President Eisenhower deployed the Military Assistance Advisory group to help train the South Vietnamese Army…

The supposed August 4th attack on the USS Maddox was used to legitimize the growing U.S. presence in Vietnam and to give the President authority to use the military in the effort to combat Communist North Vietnam. Even Johnson questioned the legitimacy of the Gulf of Tonkin. A year after the incident, Johnson said to then Press Secretary Bill Moyers, “For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there.”

A good, traditional liberal Democrat administration following the unified party line of American foreign policy. Hasn’t changed a jot since.