Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Question of Treasure

Most discussions about the ongoing endorsement of the United States in Afghanistan are centered on the number of American troops on the ground, their projected withdrawal beginning in late 2011 and the ability of the Afghan army and national police to increase their strength and capabilities despite corruption, desertion and illiteracy.

Building and maintaining this Afghan force will take money and it will come from the United States. The United States had spent over $20 billion training Afghan forces between 2003 and 2009 and expects to spend about the same this year and next alone. From 2012 to 2015 the U.S. military plans to spend an average of $6.2 billion per year. Adding it up, by 2015 we will have spend over $60 billion training Afghan forces. By comparison the total annual gross domestic product of Afghanistan is $14 billion. The irony of all this is that we are borrowing this money from China and will be required to repay it with interest.
These facts and figures will become painfully relevant as we struggle with ongoing budget deficits and rising national debts in the United States. While Cleveland and Kalamazoo crumble we may take solace in the fact that we are securing and rebuilding Kandahar and Kabul.


  1. Considering there are about 307 million residents in the US, Afghanistan costs about $195 per person.

    Comparing that to the national debt, which is now over $13 trillion, or $42,000+ per person, the war seems like a deal.

    Now consider that only about half of the US population files income tax, and of those, about one third pay no federal income tax. We're now down to 100 million US residents who actually pay taxes. Now we can just triple the dollar values above, leaving the cost of the Afghanistan activity at about $600, and the national debt at over $120,000 per taxpayer.

    You'd think that China could get a better return somewhere else, or at least find a safer place to stash their money!

  2. At the rate of return in Afghanistan, I am packing my bags and moving. That's the change I've been waiting for!