The United States government spent $145 billion, and its military $837 billion, over two decades in Afghanistan -- for a total of $982 billion. The overarching aim was to turn an agrarian-driven nation, one of the poorest in the world, into one with its own sustainable economy, The Wall Street Journal reports Monday.
The WSJ characterizes this effort as "the boldest effort this century at Western nation-building" -- and notes that, in today's dollars, the investment far exceeds the roughly $137 billion the United States spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II and the $70 billion to rebuild Iraq.
Citing various economic bodies and local politicians, the WSJ says that America's investment largely permitted Afghanistan to build a fragile economy that could produce just-in-time salaries, generate electricity and build a national army.
"Right now, there is no private sector, and there is no aid money," Salma Alokozai, who was a member of the Afghanistan's finance and education ministries (now disbanded), tells the WSJ.
However, a U.S. Defense Department told the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) in a recent report: “When you look at how much we spent and what we got for it, it’s mind-boggling.”
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