Image via WikipediaJim Lacey, a professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College and author of The First Clash writes about national building in Afghanistan and our rather strange mathematical calculation in the fight against aQ there:
While I was in Kandahar, General Petraeus announced that the Coalition faced about a hundred al-Qaeda fighters. Did anyone do the math? There are over 140,000 Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, or 1,400 for every al-Qaeda fighter. As it costs about a million dollars a year to deploy and support every soldier, that adds up to $140 billion, or close to $1.5 billion a year for each al-Qaeda fighter.Ouch! Read the whole thing here.
In other words, we spend more each year hunting down a single al-Qaeda fighter, hiding in some barren cave, then the entire annual GDP of the poorest 20 nations on earth.
In what universe do we find strategists to whom this makes sense?
On April 10, Mail Online reported that U.S. Army General David Petraeus said there was still an al Qaeda presence in the war-torn country, but it was greatly diminished. He told reporters at the Coalition's HQ in Kabul: 'There is no question that al Qaeda has had a presence in Afghanistan and continues to have a presence - generally assessed at less than 100 or so.'
And in the aftermath of Bin Laden's death, President Karzai said:
Okay then. Let's be honest, does anybody really think that we can remake Afghanistan into our own image? We have poured money into that sandy pit which has swallowed the lives of the young sons and daughters of this country and our allies, as well. Let us now allow Mr. Karzai to do his nation-building, and make his own success and mistakes. Because while we hang around over there, the imperfections of its union as a nation, will always have a fall guy named the United States of America."Once again I call on NATO to say that the war on terror is not in Afghanistan. Osama was not in Afghanistan: they found him in Pakistan," Mr. Karzai said. "The war on terror is not in Afghan villages, the war on terror is not in the houses of innocent Afghans, the war on terror is not in the bombardment and killing of Afghan children and women, but in the safe havens of terrorism outside Afghanistan."