Back during the run-up for Gulf War II, there was discussion about how much it was going to cost (remember when they said it’d be a mere $300bn and Iraq would pay for it
by having its oil looted?)
I floated a ridiculous idea, which was that if the $300bn was discounted to, say, $150bn and divided up pro rata by rank and offered to the Iraqi Republican Guard, “hey, we’ll give you this money if you shoot Saddam in the back of the neck and establish a democratic government!” it probably would have worked better. By the way, I’m not reflexively bloody-minded and don’t really care to see Saddam dead, but he had to be taken out of the picture or he would have grabbed the $150bn. He had a track record of sucking up American aid money.
So, what are we to say about Afghanistan? It’s a country with a population of 38mn many of whom are in poverty. If we discount the $1.5tn the US spent and divided up let’s say $1tn, Afghanistan would be the new Dallas, TX and everyone would be driving great big unreliable Chevy 4×4 around their neatly-tilled opium fields. OK, maybe that’s too dire a punishment for them, but you get the idea. Remember the heady days of the invasion, when CIA ground troops were literally throwing pallets of money out of airplanes to pay the Northern Alliance (aka: “the eventual government of Afghanistan”) to get moving and shoot some people? Perhaps Afghanistan’s appetite for money is infinite and that is why they call it “the money-pit of empires.” Alexander the Great supposedly lost his shirt and his sandals in Afghanistan and the British didn’t fare any too well during their great cash-withdrawal from Kabul to Kandahar. [Most of what I know of that incident is from the pen of one Harry Flashman]
I have a theory and that is that the US taxpayers would catch on to the idea that something is wrong with our government, if they simply spent money to buy people off, instead of using that great big expensive military to flatten people and destroy lives. Maybe the American people would wake up and say, “hey that single-payer health care system you keep saying we can’t afford – you just spent 3X what it would cost to fund it for a decade, and all you got was a bunch of rubble and some really, really, angry people.” What I’m saying is that we should nation-build Texas, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Alabama. You know the drill: bomb them flat then toss pallet-loads of money at their most useless political hacks. That works.