The Longest War In Short
Q. How long was America’s longest war?
A. Twelve years (2001 to 2013), or three times the length of World War II.
Q. Where was it fought?
A. Mostly in Afghanistan and partly in Pakistan?
Q. Who was the enemy?
A.The Taliban (meaning students), a reactionary Islamic movement composed mainly of Pushtoons, a medieval and largely illiterate tribe armed only with light infantry weapons..
Q. How many died?
A. Over 2,000 Americans, and the rest we don’t count.
Q. How much did the war cost?
A. A trillion or so, but, as I said, who’s counting?
Q. Anything special about these costs?
A. Yes. Afghanistan was so backward that it didn’t have a banking system. So Washington flew over shrink-wrapped pallets of $100 bills, each pallet worth a million. It’s estimated that up to $12 billion in cash disappeared, often right off the tarmac as the planes were being unloaded.
Q. Where did the money end up?
A. A lot went to the Gulf states, where well-connected Afghanis built mansions and invested in businesses. Some of it came back here to finance the boom in private military contractors we’ve been enjoying.
Q. Was anyone ever prosecuted?
A. A few Wilmers for show.
Q. Can you give me other examples of misdeeds?
A. Sure, at one point a shipment of 180,000 rifles and pistols disappeared, a lot ending up with the Taliban. And then there was the revelation that our military was paying up to $400 a gallon to the locals for gasoline. Talk about high test.
Q. How was the war fought?
A. A main tactic was busting into houses in the middle of the night, looking for Taliban. Since, without banking, Afghans kept their valuables at home, this tactic was very popular among U.S. troops.
Q. What’s happening now?
A. U.S. forces are pulling out by 2014. And Washington is negotiating Afghanistan’s fate with the evil Taliban. But, in fact, everything's iffy and likely to blow up in everyone's face.
Q. So who won the war?
A. We don’t talk about that.
Q. Wait a sec. You mean the world’s most powerful, not to mention expensive, military couldn’t beat a ragtag feudal tribe! That’s an epic scandal. There should be inquiries and investigations. Heads should roll.
A. As I said, we don’t talk about that.