The story which reared its head then dropped off the radar in summer of 2010 is still alive: that the major source of funding for the Taliban is likely the Department of Defense itself, estimated around $400 million per year, which is funneled to Afghan "security" companies as "protection payments," for allowing the massive and constant ground traffic of convoys of supplies for US bases to crisscross the country, unhindered by attacks. So says a report, "Warlord Inc.," by a House subcommittee chaired by Rep. John Tierney.
The Soviet Union devoted nearly one-third of its force during its occupation to protecting its supply lines. The Americans have figured out a different way: pay insurgents to not attack. The Tierney report - the report of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, laid bare the system of payments of Department of Defense contracting funds to Afghan warlords with ties to both sides of the conflict. Through both extensive data collection and excerpts the Subcommittee describes the realities of getting military supplies to the network of over 200 American bases and outposts across Afghanistan. The CEO of one "security company says:
“Matiullah has the road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt completely under his control. No one can travel without Matiullah without facing consequences. There is no other way to get there. You have to either pay him, or fight him.”
Thus the truth: This is a manufactured war. Without American dollars to finance its explosives, ammunition, rockets, and pay and support for its fighters, the Taliban might be little more than a nuisance. DoD money likely dwarfs the profits that insurgents take in from the opium trade. For an upper estimate on this amount, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) maintains:
Taliban insurgents draw some $125m/yr from drugs, which is more money than ten years ago,...
Unlike the Viet Cong, the Taliban attracts little ideological loyalty, and was widely despised by Afghans of all ethnicities during its rule. Few in number, during its time in power the Taliban's formula for enforcing its will was simple: fear. There was only one penalty for nearly every alleged infraction: death.
If you have not seen the film "The Kiterunner" based on Khaled Hosseini's best-selling (and accurate) novel, it is worth watching. In one scene the hero, back in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to save his nephew, engages in a minor staring match with a Taliban patrol in the back of a pickup truck, at a stoplight. His driver, in a sweat after the truck drives off, hisses angrily: "Don't EVER do that again! That was very dangerous!"
For fighters the Taliban depends on being able to pay a $10 a day wage, plus help with food and medicine. None other than a former Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, acknowledged to Congress in 2007:
"Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families"
Now it turns out, completely ignored by the American press, before being appointed to head the CIA by Obama, General David Petraeus quietly fired the 2-star Admiral who was appointed to head the response to the revelation of Taliban funding by the US, Admiral Kathleen Dussault, an expert auditor. Dussault was replaced by a one-star with no experience in accounting and little chance of success in stopping the flow of funds.
In April of 2011 Matthew J. Nasuti wrote for the Kabul Press:
Last year, General David Petraeus hired and then three months later secretly fired Rear Admiral Kathleen Dussault, who was the director in Afghanistan of Task Force 2010. The incident and its significance were ignored by the Western news media. Task Force 2010 was created in mid-June 2010, with much fanfare by General Petraeus. It was supposed to ensure that no NATO funds were being diverted directly or indirectly to the Taliban or al-Qaeda. Admiral Dussault was appointed at its director. She had the perfect credentials for the job as she is an expert auditor with an extensive background in logistics and contracting. On September 29, 2010, Admiral Dussault was quietly relieved of command and shipped out of Afghanistan. She was hurriedly replaced by a junior one-star general with no experience in either logistics or contracting. It is believed that Admiral Dussault pushed too hard to cut off the diversion of U.S. funds to the Taliban.
Petraeus, recall, was who former CENTCOM chief Admiral William Fallon once derided as "an ass-kissing little chickenshit," adding, "I hate people like that."
The mothers of soldiers in Afghanistan should be descending on Congress and the White House in droves. This is the money which buys the weapons which kill their sons.
Nasuti, who pursued claims by the Pentagon in email correspondence and found a number of them false, concludes in his report:
Task Force 2010 was created as a sham to placate members of Congress and to present the appearance that NATO was trying to cut off the flow of Western funds to the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In reality NATO has concluded that it needs to fund both sides in this war with U.S. tax dollars. The casualties in this farce are the American people, the Afghan people, our troops in the field and Admiral Dussault. The victors are the Taliban, who continue to receive $400 million in U.S. taxpayer funds each year. Pentagon officials continue to pay their adversaries not to attack and then they have the audacity to testify before Congress that the number of attacks has dropped and that the Taliban is on the run.
Why? This is well-known to the many who have been marginalized by the mainstream media and are not allowed onto the airwaves with their assessments, like America's Mom Cindy Sheehan, who says it's about money. A Wall Street newsletter InvestingDaily.com in an April 2010 article "How to profit from the war in Afghanistan" gushed:
"The Afghanistan troop surge means profits!...the likelihood that the U.S. will end up the loser in Afghanistan is a long-term worry. In the short-term, military contractors doing business in Afghanistan will make a boatload of money..."
No words have continued to ring out from beyond the grave like double Medal of Honor winner General Smedley Butler's, the Marine general who renounced his profession and spent the remainder of his life giving his "War is a Racket" speech across the country:
"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives... A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."
The "burn rate" for the occupation, the military's term for the rate of spending, is over $8 billion a month or $10 million every hour, making it the most expensive war in US history.
Were but a miniscule fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars now given over to war profiteering to be spent on trustworthy, Afghan-led development programs like the National Solidarity Program, which is chronically short of funds, by amounts each year which are less than what is spent on the war in one week, the war would be over, and the US would have a solid ally in the Afghan people. Unemployment there would not be from 40-80 percent (depending on region) and perhaps children would not freeze to death in the winter right in the middle of Kabul.
But as Cindy Sheehan once told me, there's no money in that.