A Philosopher's Blog

$360 Million

Posted in Business, Ethics, Law, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 19, 2011
Various Federal Reserve Notes, c.1995. Only th...

Have you seen this lost money?

I recently heard that the US military lost about $360 million in Afghanistan. My first thought was, of course, “at least it wasn’t billions, like in Iraq.” The money was not misplaced or left in a bathroom like a wayward umbrella. Rather it seems that it ended up being funneled through whatever passes as legitimate businesses in Afghanistan into the criminal world. Some of the money seems to have ended up in the coffers of our enemies, thus continuing our long standing tradition of funding folks who are trying to harm us (yes, I am looking at you Pakistan).

Having become cynical about such matters, I was not at all surprised by this. As noted above, I actually thought that it would be more than a mere $360 million. I do try not to think about what this wasted money could do in the United States. For example, I try not to imagine that even a modest chunk of it could have helped FAMU and FSU with their budget woes. I am accustomed to the folks “in charge” throwing away money. I resent it and use my limited capabilities to rail against it, but in the end the government folks seem incapable of preventing this sort of thing.

To be fair, perhaps this is just how things work. In the United States we have modest corruption, mainly because of our laws and traditions. Some other countries lack such laws or, if they have them, they still lack a tradition of integrity. In some cases, bribery, corruption and other criminal activities are the tradition. I would like to think better of Afghanistan, but perhaps it is essentially a criminal culture-or at least the people that we have unwisely elected to do business with are part of a criminal culture. I suspect the latter over the former.

The United States has an unfortunate history of supporting the wrong people (like the Shah of Iran) and of failing to properly control the millions and billions that we dump in other countries. While this money is tiny compared to our massive debt, these tiny drops do add to that ocean of debt. Apparently we are also bad at learning from past mistakes and seen incapable of avoiding being duped by financial criminals-our own and those in other countries. It is, to say the least, embarrassing to read about our financial idiocy.


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7 Responses

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  1. Anonymous said, on August 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    An article I wrote was published in this month’s Marine Corps Gazette, titled: ” Counter-counterinsurgency.” It addresses some of the issues you’re talking about. I’ve been so busy with work and school, that I’ve had little time to write in my blog about what’s going on and what I experienced there. This is mostly part of the counterinsurgency mythology we’ve created and used without actually trying to prove some of the theories. There are no metrics that show giving money helps to quell insurgencies, except in very specific circumstances where you pay a guy to narc out his insurgent friends. But that’s not where most of the money is going. It’s going into development which Afghans–a country full of footpads and brigands–figure out clever ways to skim from. Afghan culture is based on deceit. If someone has time, they need to do some Google research on “Trust Index”. Successful cultures have high trust indexes–people trust that their neighbors will do right, at least most of the time. No one in Afghanistan trusts each other, and for good reason.

    Where does most of the money that insurgents use to kill American troops come from? Us. We’ve made mistakes in the past and funded people who’ve hurt us. But we stopped when we figured out the game. Some people in the State Department refuse to allow us to stop this madness.

    The Afghans have earned the country they have. I’m for killing terrorists in the sneakiest, low-cost ways possible and I’m not for building anything in Afghanistan unless it directly and positively impacts coalition missions; roads for instance, make it easier for our vehicles and tougher to plant IEDs. Other than that, Afghanistan is a lost cause. Still, I’m glad I went.


    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Excellent points. History shows that throwing money into counter-insurgency is generally not an effective tactic. It also shows that functional nations are built from the inside and not imposed from the outside. While our situation is different from the time of the imperial ambitions of Europe’s great powers, we should learn a lesson from that part of history (and our own).

  2. Anonymous said, on August 19, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Obviously Pakistan & US both are guilty regarding this particular issue. You might wanna chk these as well before pointing fingers Sir.
    A few militants are killed, but the majority of victims are innocent citizens,”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

    Kindly consult the case of Raymond David as well.

    • magus71 said, on August 20, 2011 at 1:34 am


      The Taliban kills 3-4 times as many civilians as all coalition forces combined. That’s a fact that even the UN trumpets. And most of the civilian casualties from American airstrikes occur in some part because the Taliban intentionally hide among the population, so that people like you can come to their defense.

      And the “majority of victims” of drone strikes are not innocent victims. Some are, not the majority. If an entire village is supporting, harboring, feeding,and resupplying insurgents, I hardly think they’re innocent, even if they aren’t holding an RPG when a drone missile strikes.

      I did a bit of research on the link you sent. The first reference in the wiki article that I clicked went to a webpage for “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism”. What’s on BIJ’s resume? According to their site,

      “Highlights to date include:

      A collaboration with Wikileaks in its Iraq War Logs expose – winning an Amnesty Award and gaining international headlines.”

      That’s all I need to know. I certainly wouldn’t reference them in a college paper. Other than that, the wiki is very well referenced; I have no problem with it. It also says:

      “The CIA reportedly passed up three chances to kill militant leaders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, with drone missiles in 2010 because women and children were nearby. The New America Foundation believes that between zero and 18 civilians have been killed in drone strikes since 23 August 2010 and that overall civilian casualties have decreased from 25% of the total in prior years to an estimated 6% in 2010. The Foundation estimates that between 277 and 435 non-combatants have died since 2004, out of 1,374 to 2,189 total deaths.”[

      If we’re not going to invade Pakistan, (and we won’t–ever), the drone strikes must continue.


  3. Anonymous said, on August 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    A few militants are killed, but the majority of victims are innocent citizens,”

    Kindly consult the case of Raymond Davis as well.

  4. sundasrana said, on August 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Okie I agree about wikipedia. Lets forget wikipedia. I am Pakistani and I know whats going on in my country>I am living here.The relationship between Pakistan and US is complicated and whats making it more complicating is pointing fingers and streak of hatred for each other in dialogues.

    • Magus said, on August 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm

      Actually, what’s making it REALLY complicated is the Haqqani Network, ISI, and Tehrik-Taliban Pakistan. Then mix in a little al-Qaeda.

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