Every now and then, I touch upon debates arguing that the Afghanistan fiasco spells the end of the “American Empire.” The main idea is that, since the U.S. is a destructive power, it has failed to build a permanent order. Another fact is that the U.S.’s forever wars have only made the lives of ordinary Americans more difficult, while lining the pockets of the arm giants dubbed as the Military-Industrial complex.
The Afghanistan fiasco is not an exception among the U.S.’s failed attempts at establishing a permanent order. Ever since the 1950s, when it first stuck its nose then its boots on the ground in the Korean War, it has achieved an outcome completely contrary to what it originally aimed for. American economics professor Jeffrey D. Sachs published an article in German publication Blaetter titled “Afghanistan: The Bloody Wrong Track,” analyzing why all American interventions have matured into disasters.
According to Professor Sachs, who is the director of the Sustainable Development Center at Colombia University, the scale of the U.S.’s failure in Afghanistan was staggering.
Pointing that it is a permanent failure of American political culture, Sachs stated that it demonstrated U.S. politics' lack of interest in understanding other societies. He went on to say that America’s wars in Indochina - Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia -, as well as Latin America, the Middle East and Africa were all testaments to the grand failure of U.S. interventions.
Furthermore, military regimes established through CIA coups in Latin America and Africa bore catastrophic consequences for the peoples of those countries. To add fuel to the fire, America’s proxy wars devastated countries, which took decades to recover from them. Some are to this day still dealing with the aftermath of the U.S’s destruction.
Sachs claims that all these cases are not just an indication of “political failure” but “also the conviction of the U.S. foreign policy establishment that the solution to any political challenge is military intervention or CIA-backed destabilization.”
The majority of American interventions happened in countries grappling with financial troubles which only exacerbated the already-distressing situation. Then, “The U.S. typically blows up the last remnants of the infrastructure in each country while the educated professionals flee to save their lives,” Sachs writes.
He goes on to explicate how even a superficial gaze of America’s expenditure in Afghanistan is enough to depict the “stupidity” of American politics. The U.S. has spent $946 billion in Afghanistan over a period of two decades. Close to $816 billion went to American units; while $83 billion was used for Afghan security forces; $10 billion for drug control and $15 billion went to U.S. authorities in the country. And so remains $21 billion for economic aid, less than two percent of the total. The country’s infrastructure remained exactly the same. Stating that U.S. media tried to blame the American failure on the ongoing corruption in Afghanistan after the Taliban's entry into Kabul, he concludes:
“It's no wonder that after spending trillions on wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, the U.S. has nothing more to show for it than blood in the sand.”
Scott Horton, director of the "Libertarian Institute" and known for his opposition to the U.S.’s forever wars, shares the same views as Sachs. In a televised discussion with prominent neocon hawk Bill Kristol on Oct. 4, Horton said that America spreads tyranny, not freedom, that it doesn’t serve peace and security but only stokes mass, sectarian violence, and instability. In his book, “Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism,” Horton lays bare the foolish logic and self-defeating nature of America's "perpetual war order."
In an article titled “How America Destroyed the Middle East” on antiwar.com, Horton puts forth striking arguments on how its military interventions had absolutely nothing to do with the U.S.’s national security. He points out that U.S. governments spent trillions of dollars on these endless wars as a small faction made fortunes from these expenditures. He emphasized that the American nation had not gained anything from these wars beyond the progress made in manufacturing prosthetics for soldiers who lost their limbs.