By Wolf Blitzer, CNN
(CNN) - The situation in Afghanistan seems to be going from bad to worse despite 10 years on the ground for hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, diplomats, private contractors and aid workers who have rotated through the country. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent.
The commander of all U.S. and NATO forces, Gen. John Allen, was upbeat in an interview with me Monday. “The campaign is sound,” he said. “It is solid. It does not contemplate, at this time, any form of an accelerated draw-down.”
There are still about 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and another 30,000 or so NATO troops. Most are supposed to remain on the ground until the end of 2014 – that’s almost another three years.
Despite Allen’s upbeat comments, I was struck by these two paragraphs in today’s New York Times:
“Many respected Afghans have fled the country or lost their jobs, including the head of the country’s Central Bank and the deputy head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Meanwhile, analysts say the Afghan economy appears more and more to be built on the Western aid that has enriched the country’s elite, who have taken much of the money out of the country.
“Cash moving through Kabul International Airport has gone up dramatically in the past year, so that now about $4 billion is leaving the country in a legitimate annual economy of about $15 billion.”
That is pretty depressing.
More and more Americans are giving up hope that there is light at the end of the Afghan tunnel. That is what the recent polls show. They are worried about the final outcome whether the U.S. pulls out now or in three years.
The U.S. spends about $2 billion a week maintaining its presence in Afghanistan, or more than $100 billion a year.
Spending another $300 billion in U.S. taxpayer money, so many experts now fear, probably won’t make much of a difference in the final outcome of this Afghan campaign.
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