Nation Building – The Democracy Project in Afghanistan

We’ll learn a great deal from the “democracy project” we took on in Afghanistan and our own “democracy” if we pay attention. As with this country, capitalism and the oligarchy doesn’t build nations – it extracts wealth and income from the government. Like this, the wealth gets concentrated in the hands of a few people or their corporations. The USA’s history is messy because we started nation-building with slaves and abusing immigrants. And don’t forget about the Native Americans who we massacred (genocide) when we first arrived in North America.

I’ve written countless articles about our brand of capitalism most recently, here and here, but let’s look once more at the “nation-building” exercise just completed in Afghanistan. We now have five or six congressional committees formed to “gather intelligence” from top players in the “forever war” ended abruptly by Joe Biden. What’s hilarious is near all these committees are comprised of the same congressional players who voted to send troops and money to Afghanistan. Their outrage is that the cameras are sound bytes for their constituents.

These hearings will be a lesson in political scapegoating and blaming in front of the media. Nobody will be held accountable. Well, the only person being held responsible is the one person who told the truth about this scam – truth-seeking journalist and publisher Julian Assange. The irony and hypocrisy here are beyond thick. It’s so dense; it makes you choke.

The Installed President was a Fraud

First off, let’s take a quick look at the president the United States groomed for Ashraf Ghani’s position. The Grayzone’s Ben Norton broke down Ghani rather well:

No individual is more emblematic of the corruption, criminality, and moral rot at the heart of the 20-year US occupation of Afghanistan than President Ashraf Ghani.

As the Taliban took over his country this August, advancing with the momentum of a bowling ball rolling down a steep hill, seizing many major cities without firing a single bullet, Ghani fled in disgrace.

The US-backed puppet leader allegedly made his escape with $169 million that he stole from the public coffers. Ghani reportedly crammed the cash into four cars and a helicopter, before flying to the United Arab Emirates, which granted him asylum on supposed “humanitarian” grounds.

The president’s corruption had been exposed before. It was known, for instance, that Ghani had brokered shady deals with his brother and US military-linked private companies, letting them tap into Afghanistan’s estimated $1 trillion in mineral reserves. But his last-minute exit represented an entirely new level of treachery.

Ghani’s senior aides and officials promptly turned on him. His defense minister, General Bismillah Mohammadi, wrote on Twitter in disgust, “They tied our hands behind our backs and sold the homeland. Damn the rich man and his gang.”

How Did the Money Flow

I don’t even have to watch the committee hearings to understand how the Pentagon treated the Beltway Bandits or military contractors and subcontractors. I’ve already read numerous reports from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and read analyses of his writings. The Pentagon got a pile of blank checks to pay the Military-Industrial Complex as much as they needed. How many levels of bureaucracy do you think the money flowed? Did the cash flow like democracy to the people?

On occasion, money would flow to subcontractors through the primary contractors, and then other times, it would flow directly to the subcontractors. We had congressmen who owned companies that provided supplies and other services to Afghans. Profits were plentiful, and stock prices for the Defense Industry outperformed the regular exchanges considerably during the past twenty years.

Many of whom serve in Congress or the Senate; shareholders owned stocks in the companies they approved money for in Afghanistan. If a layperson did such a thing, it would be insider trading, but not these guys and gals. Hell, they were even allowed to sell their stock portfolios when they learned of a deadly virus in early 2020 before the American public was informed. So what would seem like prominent insider trading schemes never seem to stick because they “hold each other accountable.”

The Continuing War is all About Money

Indeed, the US has already begun waging war on the Taliban and – because the group is now Afghanistan’s effective government – on an entire country under Taliban rule. Moreover, the war is being conducted through global financial institutions and may soon be given a formal makeover as a “sanctions regime.”

The US did the same to Vietnam for 20 years following its defeat there in 1975. And more recently, Washington has used that exact blueprint on states that refuse to live under its thumb, from Iran to Venezuela.

Washington has frozen at least $9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s assets, which amounts to an act of international piracy. Donors from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to the European Union, Britain, and the US are withholding development funds and assistance. Most Afghan banks are shuttered. Money is in very short supply

Afghanistan is already in the grip of drought, and existing food shortages are likely to intensify during the winter into famine. Last week a UN report warned that, without urgent financial help, 97 percent of Afghans could soon be plunged into poverty. 

All of this compounded Afghanistan’s troubles under the US occupation when the number of Afghans in poverty doubled, and child malnutrition became rampant. According to Ashok Swain, Unesco’s chair on international water cooperation, “more than one-third of Afghans have no food, half no drinking water, two-thirds no electricity.” 

That is an indictment of US misrule over the past two decades when, it might have been assumed, at least some of the $2 trillion spent on Afghanistan had gone towards Washington’s much-vaunted “nation-building” project rather than enriching itself.

Reflecting on Our Democracy

We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at how our brand of democracy and capitalism worked in Afghanistan. None of the money given to the rulers at the top, or those entrusted to developing a country of laws, democracy, and capitalism, allowed any money to “trickle-down” to the Afghan people. Worst of all, our continued meddling in the post-Afghanistan War will only make matters worse. Stealing money that is rightfully theirs does not help the Afghan people struggling within the country. It sure doesn’t look like it if we were there for even a fraction of humanitarian reasons. I can already see signs that the CIA wants back in the country.

They were no longer managing the world’s opium, probably causing their sort of withdrawals. So when they heard that the Taliban was cutting off opium production, the CIA probably went nuts.

Can you imagine for a minute how much smoother our country would flow if Washington politicians and all their lobbyists vanished? Throw in all the Pentagon officials and the Virginia intelligence and surveillance officials. All of them flee the country to set up shop in Afghanistan or some faraway Island resort. Leave the country for the people to manage. How wonderful would that be – Utopia revisited. One can dream for a moment, can’t he?

The bottom line is we are not a democracy. We’ve been ruled by the oligarchy since day one, and as Albert Einstein told us in 1949, all the significant institutions, media, and political parties are owned by the oligarchy. So, when the media starts telling us something, they are manufacturing consent for the oligarchy. So, if we need to worry about China, there are oligarchic interests (profits) making sure China/Russia doesn’t interfere with oil, natural gas, or precious metals and mineral deposits.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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