Sunday December 05, 2021

Disastrous war

August 17, 2021

The collapse of Afghanistan’s US-installed government has been swifter and more precipitous than the 'experts' predicted. Our multi-trillion-dollar ‘Global War on Terror’ has also led to the collapse of Libya, the agony ISIS inflicted on countless civilians, the murder of innocents by US drones, and other misdeeds that have made this country less safe, rather than more.

For a tiny fraction of that war’s cost, the United States could inoculate every human being in the world's low- and middle-income countries in one year. That would be a humanitarian triumph. It would also make the American people safer by reducing the spread of new variants, some of which could potentially be worse than the Delta variant. And it would make the United States militarily safer, by producing good will among many of the populations that fear and despise this country today.

Public Citizen has produced a well-researched memo showing that it would cost approximately $25 billion to provide vaccines to these countries by “scaling-up production in the United States and in regional manufacturing centers around the world.” This could vaccinate billions of people, many of whom live in countries with current vaccination rates as low as 2 or 3 percent.

An investment of $25 billion is 1/280th – or roughly one-third of one percent – of the estimated $7 trillion we've spent on lethal and counterproductive wars that have killed more than a million innocent civilians and thousands of US soldiers. A Harvard study estimates we’re on track to spend $2 trillion on the Afghanistan war alone. $25 billion could be used to save lives instead of taking them, around the world as well as at home.

As I write these words, current and past leaders of the military are urging the president to re-escalate in Afghanistan. They can't be trusted. As the Washington Post’s groundbreaking report found, the same leaders spent 18 years “making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”

It is stunning that our military and civilian leaders have failed to prepare for this day. As retired general Douglas E Lute told the New York Times, “If everyone knew we were headed for the exits, why did we not have a plan over the past two years for making this work?”

Lute answers his own question. “Under Biden, it was clear ... that he was determined to end US military involvement,” Lute said, “but the Pentagon believed its own narrative that we would stay forever.” They've called the shots for so long they’ve apparently forgotten that, at least on paper, the US system calls for civilian control over the military.

Their war is still unwinnable. But the same military leaders who have failed to secure that country after 20 years, and who have systematically misled the American people for nearly as long, are now demanding to be trusted to lead more intervention. If the president bends to their pressure, he will be continuing this country’s tragic history of using military means to address humanitarian tragedies.

Excerpted: ‘Trillions Spent on Disastrous Afghan War vs Just $25 Billion to Vaccinate World’s Poor’