America has spent more rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding Europe under the Marshall Plan


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/13/and-trump-wants-new-wars.html


#2

Sound like enough then. Perhaps we should stop.


#3

“Re-” building? As in trying to restore the country to its pre-war splendor?

One of the reasons Rumsfeld was so eager to get to Iraq is that he wanted to bomb a country that wasn’t already blasted back to the bronze age.


#4

The difference, of course, is that the European countries helped by the marshall plan had functional pre-existing governmental and social traditions and institutions in place, and governments that were seen as legitimate and that were organized to more or less function for the good of the nation. Graft, corruption, and incompetence were generally at low levels.

In Afghanistan, which has been the victim of repeated colonial invasions over the past century, those institutions and traditions have been systematically destroyed by the invaders or by the strongmen who ruled in between the invasions… and as a result the only functioning government is quite thoroughly corrupt, kleptocratic, incompetent, and seen as illegitimate by a large portion of the populace.


#5

Opium production soaring?

Somebody is getting value for the dollar.


#6

Narcotecture is still a thing in Kabul.

NO VALUE for the US taxpayer: Lets break it down some…

  1. $486 million for ‘deathtrap’ aircraft that were later sold for $32,000

  2. $335 million on a power plant that used just 1 percent of its capacity

  3. Almost $500,000 on buildings that ‘melted’ in the rain

  4. $34.4 million on a soybean program for a country that doesn’t eat soybeans

  5. One general’s explanation why 1,600 fire-prone buildings weren’t a problem

  6. A $600,000 hospital where infants were washed in dirty river water

  7. $36 million on a military facility that several generals didn’t want

  8. $39.6 million that created an awkward conversation for the U.S. ambassador

  9. $3 million for the purchase — and then mystery cancellation — of eight boats

  10. $7.8 billion fighting drugs — while Afghans grow more opium than ever

  11. $7.8 million on a nearly-empty business park

  12. $81.9 million on incinerators that either weren’t used or harmed troops

Who is actually profiting from Afganistan other than the nacotrafficers? China. Mining the country for all it’s worth.

oh, and yeah the Taliban are making bank too:

https://www.globalwitness.org/en/reports/war-treasury-people-afghanistan-lapis-lazuli-and-battle-mineral-wealth/

“Global Witness’ research covered two of the most important minerals in Badakhshan, lapis lazuli and tourmaline –semi-precious decorative stones mainly exported to China.”

Local resources and monies that could be used to rebuild Afghanistan are being diverted to China and other places. Meanwhile the US gets the bill.


#7

Even after the experience of Nazism (where graft, corruption, and incompetence were not insignificant), Germany’s base political-economic culture was able to re-emerge in a way that’s almost impossible in Afghanistan, where the political-economic culture has been chronically debased by the collection of thuggish tribal headmen, priests, and colonial meddlers who’ve “governed” the place for thousands of years.

It was the core mistake of the neoconservative signatories to the PNAC manifesto that liberal democracy could take hold in Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries naturally, let alone at gunpoint.


#8

They probably knew this, but “spreading freedom” is a way to get their less bloodthirsty members to sign on.


#9

Your bigotry is showing.

Failed states don’t fail because there’s something lacking in the national character. A long tradition of absolute despotic monarchs or of theocratic rule does not a failed stare make. The failure stems from colonialism and from the corrupt kaikocracies that tend to sprout in the power vacuums left after the colonialists go home.


#10

I didn’t say anything about the national character. I’m talking about political-economic culture, which is a different thing. Afghanistan’s was dysfunctional for centuries before the first Western meddler showed up to exploit the locals and the land and to impose his own borders on the region.

European countries had their own dysfunctional combination of warlords and priests, too, of course. Somehow they got the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment to put an end to a version of the political-economic culture that never really stopped in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The nonsense about Iraq as an “Arab Israel” also made those less bloodthirsty members feel a bit more warm and fuzzy about wanting to get control of all that oil.


#11

This is rather important. The Marshall Plan was rebuilding economies that were already well developed. Plus there is a tendency to overstate the devastation of countries that received American aid - Western Europe was in much better physical shape than the east because it saw comparatively little land combat. If Eastern Europe and the USSR had received Marshall Plan aid, the total cost of rebuilding to the US would have been many times higher.


#12

Looked at another way, Stalin’s paranoia and lust for control and domination saved the U.S. billions in reconstruction aid in the postwar period. There’s probably at least one thesis or book out there seriously discussing this.

The critical material damage done in Western Europe by fascism and the resulting war was to its nations’ industrial and agricultural base and the utilities and transport infrastructure that supported them. A lot of that Marshall Plan money went to repairing or replacing those things and to supporting educated and civically motivated populations that desperately wanted to contribute to bringing them back on a nation-wide scale.

In contrast, America has spent most of its “rebuilding” money in Afghanistan and Iraq on bribes for local warlords and priests, PR stunts, fruitless attempts to force liberal democracy down the throats of populations who (for the most part) have no stomach for it, and of course anything that channelled the funds into the coffers of American corporations.


#13

Depends on the city. Dresden was basically reduced to smoking rubble.


#14

an inflation adjusted dollar just doesn’t go as far as it used to…


#15

With none of the economic benefits.


#16

Are you forgetting that prior to the Soviets invading and wrecking the place, it had a pretty modern infrastructure as a socialist state?


#17

The important word is plan. I’m not sure how much of one the US had going into Afghanistan.


#18

Not at all. It’s just that five years of post-monarchy republican struggle to institute reforms to the entrenched political-economic economic culture that ended in a bloody coup followed by a heavy-handed Marxist regime is a mere blip in the region’s long history.

Trying to shoehorn Soviet-style socialism into Afghanistan was as misguided in its own way as trying to force Western liberal democracy there. The tribal thug types just styled themselves “commissars” and the priestly types swapped out the Quran for “The Communist Manifesto.” To be sure, heroic Stakhanovite infrastructure projects were built and some liberal reforms were made on behalf of women, but the underlying dysfunctional political culture remained in place and led to the revolts that in turn led to the government’s “invitation” to the USSR.


#19

Sure, but cities were much more consistently destroyed in the east, where Dresden is located. Dresden is unusual in that the destruction was from the air, unlike Berlin or Warsaw. For example the stereotypical architecture of the Soviet city has less to do with communist ideology than the need to quickly rebuild cities that had been completely leveled. Compare this to Paris or London, where much, much more historical architecture remains.


#20

Just because he was paranoid, didn’t mean that the Marshall Plan wasn’t also built to ensure that Stalin would reject it. Look at it from the Russia POV here. How many times had Western Europeans invaded Russia and what had just happened yet again? There is plenty of evidence to suggest that Truman right out of the gate had no intention of including the Soviets, as he didn’t trust them. This is not to excuse Stalin’s imperial behavior - just look at what happened with Yugoslavia - but Stalin also had reasons to be wary of the west.