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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe AmericasThe War on Terror Was Corrupt From the Start

The War on Terror Was Corrupt From the Start

Author: Farah Stockman

Affiliation: The New York Times

Organization/Publisher: The New York Times

Date/Place: Sep 13, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Opinion Article

Word Count: 1639


Keywords: US exit, Afghanistan, War Lords, Ponzi Scheme.



The article highlights how the War on Terror in Afghanistan wasn’t a failure but instead a financial boon for military contractors and the roles provided to opportunist war lords. For these Afghans, such as the teenage interpreter who was paid 20 times the salary of a local police officer and who by his late 20s earned more than $160 million supplying US military bases via his trucking company, they never wanted the US withdrawal. “The money expended was far more than Afghanistan could absorb,” concluded the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction’s final report. “The basic assumption was that corruption was created by individual Afghans and that donor interventions were the solution. It would take years for the United States to realize that it was fueling corruption with its excessive spending and lack of oversight.” The result was an illusory economy that functioned more like a casino or a Ponzi scheme than a country. Why build a factory or plant crops when you can get fabulously wealthy selling whatever the Americans want to buy? Why fight the Taliban when you could just pay them not to attack? The money fueled the revolving door of war, enriching the very militants that it was meant to fight, whose attacks then justified new rounds of spending. The Taliban takeover proves that you cannot buy an army, you can only rent one for a while. Once the money spigot turned off, how many stuck around to fight for our vision of Afghanistan?

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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