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Afghanistan and the Collapse of American Governance

Afghanistan and the Collapse of American Governance

Jeffrey D. Sachs

For years Donald Trump called for an end to America’s war in Afghanistan. Yet as president he has quickly decided to expand the war. Since Trump’s presidency fails daily on so many levels, it’s easy to overlook an important lesson of Trump’s awful Afghanistan decision.


The article makes good points but should have added that just like environmental, energy and financial policy, military policy is also profit-driven. The military industrial complex is a multi-billion dollar operation. The US economy is a war economy and the two media-blessed parties try to outdo each other in bellicosity. No beating swords into plowshares for the Republicats, no sir. The MIC is one of the cars on Washington’s gravy train (or several cars, really), with millions of taxpayer dollars kicked back to our “representatives” in the form of campaign contributions.

Unfortunately, as empires throughout history have found, a society based on war, if it doesn’t die by someone else’s sword, it dies by its own.


You certainly make an excellent argument for Dumping the Duopoly in the political cesspool.

Good comment.


Jeffrey D. Sachs (along with the Clinton administration), the Harvard guy, who helped the Russian oligarchs after the “fall” of Russia, No thanks,.shades of the “Shock Doctrine.”

Thank you, Mr. Sachs, for this excellent analysis. The last two paragraphs very nicely say all that needs to said about the awful situation we’re in.


Sorry Jeffrey. As you well know, Adam Smith himself said, in the famous “invisible hand” passage (p. 485 in my copy of the Cannan Edition) that the common good (“public good” or “[the interest] of the society”) is seldom if ever served by direct efforts to do so, but only by the pursuit by each and every individual of “his (sic) own interest,” which today would presumably include corporations, persons like any other.

Of course Smith did not in that passage deny the existence of a common good, only that it is served best and almost entirely by the single-minded pursuit of the private self-interest of every individual. But as you also know, our profession at least since Marshall has studiously ignored and at time even suppressed the very IDEA of a common good, while reducing that of a “public good” to a mere technicality.

It is long past time that economists acknowledge, with Pogo, that “We have met the enemy and he is us” (Walt Kelly, 1972).


Ultimately the president makes the decision about sending more troops into conflict. The generals can give their opinions but the final decision is up to the president. Before going into Iraq at least one general said that we needed about twice as many troops as Donald Rumsfeld thought was necessary. In the end Bush went with Rumsfeld. And it turned it out that the US had too few troops for an occupation which was part of the reason for what happened after Bush proclaimed mission accomplish. I think it is common knowledge that generals usually tell a president if only we had x number more troops that the enemy could be defeated. Presidents are not military experts but they have to decide whether to follow the advice of generals or not. In the end, it the president who gets the blame if things go wrong as it should be. Generals do not have to consider the political ramifications of what they are advising but president do. I would say that Trump’s supporters want a strongman as president. Someone who not only threatens but acts. Sending in more troops should help him with his base voters. That may mean more to him than what the generals are advising.

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The CIA has dictated US foreign policy since December, 1963, through all administrations after JFK.

Trump has performed a tragic comical about-face 180-degree turn in his Afghan policy from earlier pronouncements in 2012 and 2013 about the utter waste of the US military in Afghanistan. He was correct then, and he’s wrong now.

Obama should have stopped this war in 2009. He was given the world’s most powerful weapon in the Nobel Peace Prize, and he wasted the award and its potential to settle this conflict. What a disappointment.

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Now here’s a well thought out plan and strong call for action:

“America’s restoration depends, with rising urgency, on the return of politics to the common good.”

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All true except that fake story about the killing of Osama Bin Laden and that staged photograph of Barack, Hillary and other watching the soon to be killed Seal Team 6 take out Osama with the varying stories of how it happened and that untraceable burial at sea!

Right on! How can two political parties take care of the needs and diversities of a ‘democracy’ as large as ours? Let’s get real.

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Sorry, m’man. With icecaps melting at north and south poles, it’s you and your affection for Adam Smith that are woefully past relevance.

Did you even READ my comment?!? I consider classical-tradition economics as bogus as a $3,000 bill, and I have earned the right to call out its practitioners, especially timid Tillies like Sachs who always seems blissfully unaware of the disaster capitalism it enables and promotes. What did you think I meant by that reference to Pogo, a comic strip character drawn by social critic and satirist Walt Kelly c. 1945-1970? When did YOU become aware of global warming? I have always thought I first learned of it in 1972 from my former physics professor, but have recently discovered that I was exposed to the concept at age 12 in 1958 but lacked the context to understand it so forgot it. Learn a little about your subject before holding forth on it.