The question is: why would US forces want to aid and abet militants and prolong a war that has cost the American taxpayer trillions of dollars? Why would Washington spurn an opportunity to participate in the Moscow-convened summit scheduled for September 4, which is aimed at finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict?
In short, what US interests are there in prolonging this appalling war?
While the occupation of Afghanistan by US troops is a deadweight for the American national economy and citizen-taxpayers – adding up to $5 trillion to the country’s total debt load of $21 trillion – we have to bear in mind that for weapons manufacturers and suppliers, the war is a boon. It keeps the military-industrial complex humming with super profitable business. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which are among the top lobbyists to Congress, using a coldly rational logic would not want this war to stop. Ever. Their corporate interests are starkly divergent from ordinary US citizens and foot-soldiers on the ground. So what if the nation is $21 trillion in debt when mega profits are being scooped up by executives and shareholders of the weapons companies?
It is also well-documented that the CIA depends on lawlessness in Afghanistan to run its trillion-dollar opium drugs racket. As with the notorious Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war, the CIA uses global drugs trafficking as a way to fund its “black operations” in others parts of the world, finances that are kept hidden from political oversight by Congressional lawmakers.
A third incentive for American imperial planners to keep Afghanistan in turmoil is that it allows the US to mobilize and weaponize proxy armies for the purpose of harrying Russia and Iran. Afghanistan has a border with Iran to its west and it is a spearhead into Russia’s southern flank. For the US, having a base for militants with which to penetrate and destabilize either Iran or Russia is a strategic asset, not at all a strategic loss. Especially now given that Iran and Russia have succeeded in routing the US-backed jihadist bases in Syria.
Indeed, Russia has already explicitly expressed the concern that a lawless Afghanistan presents a direct security threat to its national interests.
So, yes, by any normal reckoning, Afghanistan has been a catastrophe for US citizens, as well as of course for millions of Afghanis who have lost loved ones, homes, jobs, and livelihoods only to eke a subsistence in grinding poverty.
But in a more sinister reckoning, there are powerful American interests which view the suffering and calamity of Afghanistan as a lucrative, strategic venture that must be kept going.
Afghanistan may be a seething swamp of suffering. But it’s a swamp that is at the same time spawning immense advantages for a select few overseeing US imperialist interests. That makes the tragedy of the country more poignant. Heinously, crucial incentives are not to stop the war, but to keep it going.