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BLITZER'S BLOG: Depressing situation in Afghanistan
March 13th, 2012
04:20 PM ET

BLITZER'S BLOG: Depressing situation in Afghanistan

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.

Follow Wolf Blitzer on Twitter: @WolfBlitzerCNN

RELATED: CNN Opinion: Leave Afghanistan now

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soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. feysbuk

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    April 11, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  2. crys

    i feel we should focus on our domestic problems we have here, the amount of control our "government " has over us, the value of the dollar dropping every day, the amount of people who live their whole live on food stamps and teach their kids to do the same. i am disgusted by the way alot of americans live and how little we actually care about the other people in this world, or even our world for that matter. its time to stop worrying about making everyone exactly the same and embrace individuality, and no i do not mean tolerate murder or anything like that, im just saying this country was founded on a different idea and we need to let people live the way they want to! stop forcing our ideals on other countries and make our own government listen to what we feel and what we have to say.

    March 14, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  3. Alaska

    The Military should make that soldier walk through that village without a weapon and a sign on him that says I did this to you.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  4. harold, Phoenix,AZ.

    All apologies aside, we are the enemy in AFGHANISTAN . What do we as invaders expect! Oh, roses in the rifle barrels,according to draft dodging Dick Cheney.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  5. Afghan Stalllion

    Its time for US to end the Afghan occupation!!!! Afghans are the most brave warriors of all times and never can be defeated by Mongols, Alexander the Great, British, Russia and now U.S. The U.S is tyring to implemment Western style politics. Come on you can never change them in 100 got Bin Laden and now its time to go home.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  6. Nodack

    9/11 killed 3000 Americans.

    We spent over a trillion dollars and lost over 5000 more exacting revenge. We killed 200,000 in Iraq and it had nothing to do with 9/11 or terrorism. We killed at least that many in Afghanistan and at least that had something to do with 9/11, but in the end all we have to show is Bin Laden, Saddam Husein and some Al Queda leaders dead.

    In the meantime 450,000 Americans have died in the US since 9/11 because they didn't have health insurance. A show of hands how many people cared even the slightest bit that they died? One... two hands. Can you imagine if we spent that money on helping Americans instead of killing foreigners? There would be about a million more people alive today.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  7. harold, Phoenix,AZ.

    The War Machine must be fed, according to the GOP candidates we should attack Iran. I and it is hoped the AMERICAN public will not send their kids to slaughter based on the assumption of those that never wore the uniform. The three leaders of the GOP candidates dodged the draft. Is it not a bit odd that none of the five sons of Gov. Romney love America enough to enlist.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  8. Jim in Florida

    Wolf, I was going to say the same thing about Maj Hasan's slaughter at Fort Hood. Then I thought, why should I be worried about that, Obama didn't express near the same horro at those killings. The Afgan government never apologized for the point blankk murders of the US Servicemen following the Koran burnings.

    Perhaps it is time we just get the hell out of there and leave thses people to their own devices. If they attack us here, again, we simply bomb them in response but we do not spend a dime to rebuild.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  9. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Wolf, you feel the situation in Afghanistan is depressing? Well of course and most Americans do too, that is except those who vote Republican! And Dick Cheyney's take on the whole situation? Remember what he said to your colleague Candy Crawley a few months ago on CNN Wolf? Well, Dick Cheyney said he has no regrets whatsoever for the deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan! I just wonder why this accused US soldier is most likely to face the death penalty for the alleged crimes in Afghanistan and GWB and Dick Cheyney and company are not facing the same faith! I guess only in America!

    March 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Name*Liz Carter

      So true...they should have already been charged, prosecuted and convicted. They should have already been at least doing LIFE somewhere!!

      March 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  10. Nodack

    The goal in Afghanistan was revenge for 9/11. Bin Laden is dead and Al Queda has had to find new leaders several times because we killed all their leaders and thousands more. The Taliban refused to cooperate and as Bush said, you are either with us or against us, so the Taliban became the enemy too.

    The mission has changed into us turning Afghanistan into a Democracy and ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban. That's like saying you want to get rid of red necks in the south. They live there and are not going anywhere unless you kill them all. You can't kill them all.

    Meanwhile we have totally blown any chance of winning their hearts and minds. They are more scared of the US than they are of the Taliban now. Most of the money we spend their gets siphoned off and shipped out of the country.

    We blew it. Nobody beat us on the military field, but we blew it. I think of it like getting married. Some people marry and try to mold their spouse into the person they want them to be. That works out about .0000001% of the time. You can't make them or Afghanistan into what you want it to be. They have to do it themselves.

    We failed. Time to lick our wounds and get out. I don't care who claims victory. There is no such thing as a winner in this war.

    If we leave and Al Queda sets up operations in Afghanistan again there is no need to declare war and send in 100,000 troopsand spend 2 billion every week supporting them. One well placed bomb on their heads will do the job. It won't end terrorism, but it will keep them in hiding and running scared. Right now we are doing more harm than good and that is unacceptable.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  11. jOE

    Once the US commit troops to a nation we have to ensure there is a transition of power otherwise face a huge humanitarian incident that will be blamed on the US. In addition we don't want the Iranians or Pakistani's to have complete power in Afghanistan after we leave. SO EVERYONE KNOWS AFGHANISTAN IS NOT A TRUE SOVEREIGN NATION, BUT MORE OR LESS A COLONY OR TERITORY OF BOTH IRAN & PAKISTAN!!!!!!!!

    So everyone needs to understand both the Paki's and the Iranians have a strangle hold on 50% of the Afghan provinces so all the money we spend there is going to both Iran & Pakistan in reality. while the Pakistani's actually have more control of Afghanistan both are doing the same, so were just funding a never ending situation!!!!!!!

    Why would the Pakistani's ever stop creating security incidents (TALIBAN) if the more problems they create the more America will spend to get a perception of stability!!!!!!!!!! The Pakistani's control the Taliban, it's just a Government the Paki's setup so the Pakistani's can control Afghanistan by proxy. But even better yet the Americans have known the Paki's created the Taliban since the Muhjuadeen defeated the Russians.

    So the question is why are we supporting Pakistan? Why was Osama Bin Ladin in Pakistan? Why are we not kicking their doors in? Why do we pretend the Pakistani's are America's allies?

    March 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Giorgia

      It's like a race to the bottom, here in what was once America, land of the free and home of the brave. Which one will be the nail in the cofifn: the eco-catastrophe playing out all over the globe (including Peak Everything ), the military policy/corporate fiasco clusterfuck or the insolvent bank (Wall Street/Fed) casino situation, practically guaranteed to default in our lifetime? i don't think even Prozac will help, what we're facing.

      November 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  12. Shadynuk

    Exaclty. Where has all money gone? To Karzai, phoney Afghan contractors, phoney US contractors, Dick Chenny – maybe enough comes back to CNN to remove any incentive to dig beyond political fluff. "Follow the money" like real journalists and you will learn a lot more than you will be continually taking the political bait set out for you.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  13. jOE

    Ok so at least people are starting to get it,

    !. the US war machine is big time business to many people!!!
    2. America is paying off less than 1% of Afghans with bogus contracts that claim to be infrastructure projects. BUT AN AUDIT WILL SHOW LESS THAN 5% OF THESE WORKS HAVE EVER BEEN COMPLETED.
    3. Our men & women are fighting in a situation where there is no clear solution, thus they will die in vain.
    4. This guy that murdered people in their sleep is a terrorist that does not deserve to wear the uniform. It has nothing to do with PTSD, he was acting out to make a political statement which was a violation of everything and more or l less TREASON!!!!!!! SO WE CANNOT ANALYZE OUR SERVICE PEOPLE BY THIS CLOWN BUT HE MUST BE TREATED LIKE THE TRAITOR HE IS OTHERWISE FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF HYPOCRISY.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  14. leftcoast

    There was only one good reason to be in Afghanistan, to get the mastermind of 9/11. Now that that has been accomplished, let the Afghans manage their country as they like. We might not like to see people under the rule of a group that thinks the fifteenth century had a superior social system, but hey, just talk to the US Republican Party. They would like to do the same in the US today!

    March 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  15. hear ye

    usa, ya can't win 'em all. not even with great big guns.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  16. topper

    First off, General Allen is going to say whatever it takes to keep the military forces employed. With the anticipated draw down and budget decrease, things aren't looking good for most of the services. We need to get the @#$ out of there now. There is no PURPOSE in us being there whatsoever. OUR tax dollars are being funnelled into unknown sources and it has been out of controlled and unchalleneged for years. Mean while, we are paying 4.00 a gallon for gas. This is beyond ludicris. What is going on in this country.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  17. joesmith

    we have tried, but to no avail on this forum to express the only candidate who has proposed from the beginning to get out stay out, save our billions for Americans who desperately need it, and allow mr karzai to rule his country the way he sees fi, that person Ron Paul..but who do we get bambarded with..the other also rans..we Americans find it hard to see the forest from the trees..cnn included..

    March 13, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Nodack

      Ron Paul is honest and likable and has a few good ideas, but he also has some horrendous ideas as well and is unelectable because of it. Going completely isolationist is unacceptable. Shutting down the IRS and half the government is unacceptable.

      March 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  18. jj

    Gee, I guess even Afghanistan has their 1% ripping off the rest.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  19. Jeff

    What is more depressing is the fact that we continue to lose our valiant soldiers and Marines, and of course the loss of civilians. Doing the responsible thing would be to leave Afghanistan now.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  20. jOE

    While it nice to hear a little of the truth coming out in the analysis, let someone that has been there share the complete reality. Afghanistan is not a sovereign nation it's a teritory that is controlled by Pakistan, Iran, and currently occupied by the US. We have been pouring money into projects that have been a complete fraud on the US tax payer in order to attempt to improve Afghanistan.

    But all of this money has been awarded to companies that were basically non existant before the Americans came to Afghanistan. Another words most of these companies only exist on paper, yet we've awarded contracts for hundreds of billions of dollars to about 2000 different Afghans that have setup these legal entities for the sheer purpose of defrauding the US to get money. Which is immediately siphoned out of Afghanistan!!!!!!!!! The US needs to audit all these projects to verify how money is payed out without verificiation these projects have been completed!!!!!!! The joke in Afghanistan is the Americans will pay you to do nothing, but the Russians wont pay you good and you have to actually work. The Afghans completed alot of large scale projects while under Russian rule, but to date there is not one project the Americans can illustrate as a success in afghanistan. SO WHERE DID ALL THE MONEY GO?????

    March 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  21. Captain

    Wolf, you think it's depressing? I bet the people who have lived it every day for the last 40 years would have some more select words for the situation.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  22. RonPaul2012

    Leave Afghanistan now, wait maybe we should stay – it is the graveyard of empires, perhaps if we stay long anough our empire will be buried and we go back to being a peace loving country of indidivudals instead of an appendage of the pentagon and AIPAC

    March 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • yuri pelham

      Agree empires all self destruct. Lets just be a simple country like Canada or New Zealand.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Barhoumi

      This whole war thing is SO not-working for us anymore. We aren't wiinnng hearts and minds when we try to force a government into a democracy at gun-point, shoot up innocent people in the process, and spend billions we don't have on this fiasco.

      November 13, 2012 at 2:56 am |
  23. John Tarver

    After Obama's apology Afghanistan becme unwinnable very rapidly. I think the fact that we could stay in Afghanistan until 2014 is not a rason to stay. The Taliban are from Afghanistan and they are not leaving. I expect America's continued occupation of Iraq will collapse soon as well. America in the Holy Land is why bin-Laden attacked America to begin with; I know this because he told us so.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • jj

      The active occupation of Iraq ended some months back.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  24. yuri pelham

    All people spared the psychological stumbling block of denial have realized for a long time and the rest since the urination episode, the Koran burning, and the civilian massacre that our mission is beyond accomplishment. How many more US soldiers must die or be maimed just for us to save face? General Jones appears to be delusional in his assessment and must be replaced. Winning hearts and minds? You must be kidding.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • tullymd

      Bring back the draft and avoid prolonged futile wars. Because of the draft the American people ended the Vietnam War.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  25. Jimmy Crack Corn

    "More and more Americans are giving up hope that there is light at the end of the Afghan tunnel." Are you kidding me? Who actually thought there was any light at all at the end of the Afghan tunnel? I never met a single American who wanted this war to continue that wasn't a politician or a contractor.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  26. allens

    it will be unending. afghanistan has always been a VERY troubled and poor country. nothing we or nato will do can change that. it included theiowing away lives and huge sums of money. let them sink or swim. they are not to big to fail. this is one of those situations where we will look at it down the road and wonder how our politicians could have been so ignorent. of course we know the answer, nothing we can do about that either

    March 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  27. Brian from KS

    The goal of invading Afghanistan was ridding the country of the Taliban and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. We've done those things, now it's time to get out. If the Afghan people can't protect themselves from the Taliban and govern themselves, too bad for them. Bring our boys home!

    March 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  28. the_dude

    The best use of the hundreds of billions would have been to level the country.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  29. SaveRMiddle

    Our Military Industrial Complex recipients are also doing just fine compliments of the US taxpayers. Nothing is as it seems.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  30. John

    I've been is a corrupt gov't with little hope of long term stability. OBL is's time to leave.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  31. jim

    "More and more Americans are giving up hope that there is light at the end of the Afghan tunnel."

    I don't personally know any Americans who ever saw any light at the end of the tunnel. This is just a pipe dream of our government.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  32. MATTY13

    Yes, it is depressing. It's depressing because an entire people have no ambition to leave the 6th century and enter the 21st century, and we don't understand why. Look at Japan, Italy, and Germany after WWII. All "occupied" and all re-built. Re-built because the people in those countries wanted it re-built. It's depressing that all the good that was throw at this country is out weighted by the bad. It's depressing that most Americans judge this endeavor through the eyes of politics. It's Bush's fault! It's Obamas fault! It's depressing that Americans look at this as dollars spent and lives lost. Well, there are things more noble then dollars and lives. Travel the military cemetaries of Europe to see where nobility really lies. And it's depressing because there will be those who will see a failure in Afghanistan as a green flag to committ more 9/11's.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  33. Bill

    The research says that the only insurgencys that lose are where there is a competent government that is trusted by the population – with that in place, the insurgency might lose. Without that the insurgents win. This kind of govt does not exist.
    Who thought that soldiers with no cultural or psychology training would change the population into a Western type of society with Western values?
    This was a pipe dream from the start. How did people in charge ever think that it would work?

    March 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  34. don't want my son beheaded

    my son will be going to Afghanistan in the near future and I'm a bit more than concerned for his safety. Someone please tell me why we are still there?

    March 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  35. Jimmy D

    Mr. Blitzer has hit the nail on the head. Our Military is not trained to accept "can't do" so they'll valiantly try to do the impossible in Afghanistan. The Mission to kill OBL is over. Get our Troops out of harm's way as fast as possible. And reduce draining our pockets to line the corrupt Afghan and Pakistan governments' pockets.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  36. Timothy

    Please explain the Return on Investment America has made over the last decade in the Afghanistan war. What alternative means could have been used to route out Al Qeda and the Taliban, other than a full scale invasion? Which corporate entities receiving funding from the DoD benefited directly from this war?

    March 13, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  37. John Kantor

    Can you say Cut-N-Run? Blitz can. Can you say Terrorist sympathizer? I can.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • DoubleW

      I take it you are going to enlist, then? Feel free, if you hurry you can pull a combat tour before we leave.

      March 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  38. Voiceinthewind

    Iys almost as depressing as the slaughter of innocant Palestinians by Da Jooz.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  39. Loathstheright

    Doesn't matter if we pull out today or in three years the result will be the same.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  40. patrick

    alright already – time to go- leave today!!!!!!

    March 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  41. Alan S

    The Afghanistan adventure is a classic case of the U.S. trying to do too much. The U.S. military is very good at fighting wars, but it isn't worth a darn at nation-building. Which is hardly surprising. Soldiers are not social workers, and Marines are not political scientists.

    The U.S. was able to assist the rebuilding of Europe after WWII because those people shared our values, our religions, even our history. Some of them shared our language. We were able to assist the rebuilding of Japan and South Korea after WWII and the Korean War because those people shared some of our most fundamental values and were willing to adopt a few more. But this current mess is far more difficult.

    I used to be a soldier. The Staff Sergeant murdering 16 people breaks my heart. For them, for him, for all of us.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  42. Darren

    The military is designed to fight wars. Our military doesn't seem able to end a conflict when it is obviously over. The mission for most of the troops in Afghanistan has little to do with helping the Afghan's. Most of what is being done by them is in support of the overall mission. I would rather see a much smaller group of soldiers focusing on a safe Kabul and education country wide.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  43. Harriet Novet

    Jack nailed it. I was reminded me of GW Bush's expectation to "leave it to the next President" to design the exit strategy. Time to go, and put an end to the damage we've done and lives that have been lost.

    March 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  44. Thomas

    Like you i wonder what good we are doing there

    March 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  45. Bo

    I don't agree at all with the Rogue Sgt actions. The Taliban kill civilians on a daily basis with no appologie's necessary. Bring our troops home, Bin Laden is DEAD, and we should not have further dealings with Karzi's corruption.

    March 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  46. V in Chicago

    We need to bring our troops home now and let the people of Afghanistan fend for themselves. They are so completely distraught over the lone actions of one, unstable and disturbed American soldier, and want to behead all Americans for his actions. Why do they not show this type of outrage when suicide bombers take dozens of people out? I don't believe anything we do in Afghanistan is going to help that country come of age. They are 100 years behind the times and seem content to stay that way. The money we keep supplying is only going to line the pockets of the overtly corrupt government, so WHY? Withdraw all American troops and tell Afghanistan they are on their own.

    March 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  47. HoneyBe

    What in the world are we still doing there? So this administration doesn't contemplate any draw-down? 90% of Americans want our troops out – Afghans don't want us there. So what is the logic in staying there besides making military industry buddies richer??

    March 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Angel

      This sounds strikingly familiar. Does anyone remember when Ron Paul addressed something called blowback? That is exactly what we are going to get from this... We went chasing terrorists (that we created) and doing so we may just repeat our mistakes. Bring them home now before it gets worse...

      March 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

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