by Ron Paul: The
War That’s Not a War
week, GOP chairman Michael Steele came under fire for daring to
say what a lot of Americans already know — that our involvement
in Afghanistan is an ill-advised quagmire with no end in sight.
After nearly 10 years and approaching $1 trillion spent, the conflict
is going nowhere because there is nowhere for it to go. After all,
if victory is never really defined, defeat is inevitable.
With our economy
at home in serious trouble, this wasteful occupation is something
we clearly cannot afford. Each soldier costs us $1 million per year,
and yet most in Washington are only considering how many more soldiers
to send. Fuel costs an astonishing $400 per gallon for our military
in Afghanistan! Yet somehow, many politicians feel it is acceptable
to squeeze this money out of our taxpayers, who are truly struggling
economically, to fund this non-war. Our economy here is not showing
any real signs of improvement. Official unemployment is pushing
10% and getting worse. (Real unemployment is over 20% according
to the free-market economists.) The growing debt and inflation used
to fund this occupation only dooms us to more economic hardship
for a long time to come. And — for what?
Where the money
for Afghanistan comes from is one problem — where it goes is
another. Recently, it has come to light that much of the aid money
we send to Afghanistan is lost due to corruption. Billions of tax
dollars from hardworking Americans are ending up lining the pockets
of corrupt Afghan officials, and likely even filtering into the
Taliban we are ostensibly fighting. The Wall Street Journal
recently reported that curiously enough, billions more than the
Afghan government collects in revenue is leaving the country in
the form of cash on huge pallets and in suitcases and mostly ending
up in Dubai, as well-connected Afghan officials buy up luxury homes
and enrich their personal off-shore bank accounts. Investigations
into corruption and graft have been blocked by the Karzai government,
probably because Karzai’s own brother would have to be implicated.
It is encouraging that the foreign aid appropriations subcommittee
has attempted to block billions in aid as a response to these allegations,
but this is likely temporary and may not even succeed.
The point is
that sending aid money to Afghanistan is not making poor people
over there better off. It is making poor people here worse off.
Corruption is endemic to Afghanistan, with graft comprising about
one fourth of their economy! Even though it is considered the second
most corrupt nation in the world according to Transparency International,
we still send the Afghan government billions of dollars in aid and
are shocked to find it is not making its way out of the sticky fingers
of the officials entrusted with it.
here to fund corruption over there is not helping average citizens
anywhere. We are sacrificing real economic opportunities at home
for the opportunity to line corrupt pockets in Afghanistan. Not
only that, but American soldiers are being killed and maimed. It
is tragic and frustrating how much we have lost and wasted already.
It is time to leave Afghanistan to the Afghans to sort out. I am
glad more Americans are finally willing to face this reality.
Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.