By Dave Lindorff
Just days before we celebrate the 224th anniversary of America's declaration of independence from a colonial overlord on the other side of the world, Congress approved the allocation of yet another $33 billion in funds to support America's attempt to occupy and run, on the other side of the world, the incredibly poor nation of Afghanistan.
That's $33 billion for a ninth year of war in a country that is being described apocalyptically by our leaders as America's greatest existential threat, though in truth it is a landlocked nation of mostly illiterate and impoverished tribal peoples who for centuries have been occupied with battling each other, and most of whom have no idea where America is, or perhaps even if the world is round or flat. Afghanistan, in short, makes Saddam Hussein's WMD-less Iraq look like a superpower.
The $33 billion, coincidentally, is almost exactly the amount that is needed to extend for another six months the unemployment benefits for 5 million or so unfortunate Americans who have been surviving until recently on extended unemployment benefits. Thanks to the Republican House and Senate members' refusal to pass the extension funding, those people will be on their own, like the millions of other jobless Americans who don't even qualify for unemployment compensation under the stingy program offered in the US, or who have been screwed out of benefits by employers who are poorly policed by state and federal labor department enforcement bureaus.
Afghanistan is a nation of 24 million, with a per capita income of $800. This means that the Afghan War funding of $33 billion, only the latest installment in hundreds of billions of dollars that have already been spent and wasted on this nation's longest-running and perhaps most pointless war, also is enough, all by itself, to provide every man, woman and child in that country with $1400 for the year.
You would think that, instead of spending $33 billion to kill Afghans and blow up their towns and cities, the US might consider just giving them all enough money to double their income. Then, with them all in a much better mood, we could just let them work things out amongst themselves . But no. Here's what we do with the money instead: We give some of it to the soldiers that we order to go over there. We give some to corrupt warlords and government officials who are squirreling it away in Swiss banks. We give some to drug lords and the poppy farmers who work for them, who grow the crop that comes back here as refined heroin to poison and kill our own citizens...
For the rest of this story by DAVE LINDORFF, a founding member of the new online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!, please go to:www.thiscantbehappening.net