Further to Jeremy Scahill’s reporting on General David Petraeus’s impact on the CIA is a post at the Afghanistan Study Group by Mary Kaszynski on the costs and feasiblity of nation-building in the war-torn country:
Bing West, assistant Secretary of Defense for President Reagan, had this to say about Gen. Petraeus and Afghanistan:
“Gen. Petraeus’s concept of nation building as a military mission probably will not endure. Our military can train the armed forces of others (if they are willing) and, in Afghanistan, we can leave behind a cadre to destroy nascent terrorist havens. But American soldiers don’t know how to build Minneapolis or Memphis, let alone Muslim nations.”
West pinpointed one of the fundamental flaws of nation-building. U.S. troops are most capable in the world, but they are trained for combat, not building roads and distributing food aid.
There’s another big problem with nation-building in Afghanistan: it is very expensive. And with the a national debt of over $16 trillion, the U.S. cannot afford to spend billions more on the war in Afghanistan.
War costs ramped up significantly as the U.S. mission in Afghanistan expanded. From 2001 to 2006, spending on the war did not exceed $20 billion per year. In 2010, 2011, and 2012, war costs were over $100 billion per year.