On 31 August, the United Stated evacuated the last American soldier from Afghanistan and pulled the curtail on a two-decade war that was started under the claim of fighting terror, ending Al-Qaeda and Taliban and establishing a democratic civil society in the country.
"The United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan," US President Joe Biden said, stating that it was "the longest war in American history." Biden did not find anything to brag about during the withdrawal speech.
"We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety," he said, referring to the evacuation of Americans, their allies and the Afghani people who worked for them during their occupation.
A total of 800,000 American soldiers were engaged in the occupation of Afghanistan, and the US spent more than $2 trillion during the war. News agencies reported that the US incurred debt to finance the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with total interest on these loans expected to reach $6.5 trillion by 2050.
According to the Costs of War Project, 176,000 people were killed in Afghanistan, including 46,319 civilians, 69,095 military and police and at least 52,893 opposition fighters. The US and its allies achieved nothing during the 20-year occupation.
The Taliban, which ran the country prior to the occupation and is back in power now, was designated a terrorist organisation by the Americans, but who believes the American narrative? The US said it would fight terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, but what we have seen is the destruction of both countries, terror has not ended.
Before this, the US claimed it decided to fight the Taliban because it did not hand over Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden. While the Taliban said they had asked the US to investigate 9/11 and confirm if Bin Laden was behind the attack, and if so, he would be handed over. But the issue was not Bin Laden, the issue was removing the Taliban.
The Americans spoke of how they had improved Afghanistan during their occupation of it, allowing women to study and improving the education sector. They contributed to decreasing infant mortality rates, building schools, hotels, hospitals and police stations, as well as training tens of thousands of Afghan security officers to protect the country. However, the US and its allies failed to prove their success in all of these fields.
Famous American news agencies and newspaper reported the findings of the audit led by the John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), who revealed how the US money was wasted on boondoggled projects.
A range of US government poured an estimated $145 billion into construction and infrastructure projects, equipment for the Afghan security forces, humanitarian aid, counternarcotics programs and other spending, the report said, however "the US government consistently underestimated the amount of time required to rebuild Afghanistan and created unrealistic timelines … These choices increased corruption and reduced the effectiveness of programs … Many of the institutions and infrastructure projects the United States built were not sustainable," the Sigar report said.
Less than a week after the full withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, the Wall Street Journal detailed the American failures and unnecessary projects. "The Afghan countryside is littered with abandoned and decaying power plants, prisons, schools, factories, office buildings and military bases, according to a watchdog agency, the legacy of the U.S.'s 20-year effort to fund the establishment of a modern Afghan state that could provide security and basic services for its citizens."
Reporting Sigar, the Journal said: "In many cases, the U.S. government built things the Afghans didn't want or need. Some facilities and equipment were damaged in fighting. In other cases, whether through malfeasance or incompetence, American, Afghan and international contractors never delivered what they were paid for."
Sopko counted a number of the failed and unneeded programmes which show how US money was spent in vain, citing the $6 million spent on introducing rare Italian goats to Afghanistan, funding for which was approved by the Pentagon, while Sopko said: "Many of the goats got sick and died, and the project director quit in frustration."
Sopko also cited the $28 million for Afghan army uniforms, $1 billion paid for schools with no teachers or students, $8.5 billion poppy eradication programme, $486 million scrapped cargo planes, $549 million to buy and maintain 20 refurbished G222 medium-lift transport aircraft for the Afghan air force, $85 Million Kabul luxury hotel and Grand Residences, which Sigar noted was not suitable for human occupancy, $1.6 million for Khost electric power and many others.
One of the biggest failures of the American occupation was the government it put together to rule the country and which was removed from power without a struggle. Reports claim they escaped with sacks of money siphoned from the state.
According to the Washington Post, American diplomats, military officials and aid workers, who were directly involved in the invasion of Afghanistan, said: "Instead of bringing stability and peace, they said, the United States inadvertently built a corrupt, dysfunctional Afghan government that remains dependent on U.S. military power for its survival. Assuming it does not collapse, U.S. officials have said it will need billions more dollars in aid annually, for decades."
"Washington foolishly tried to reinvent Afghanistan."
Twenty years of bombings, unrest and occupation let Afghanistan unchanged. This is an American military adventure. If the plan was to bring an end to terror, much of that programme would have been brought to an end when the US killed Bin Laden in 2011.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.