‘Pick-Up Game’: After Afghanistan Failure, US Watchdog Doubts Possibility of Nation-Building Success

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed on Tuesday that a “fair amount” of US equipment supplied to Afghan security forces has fallen into the hands of the Taliban as they quickly surrendered over the last week, including helicopters, MRAPs, and ScanEagle drones.

A day after the Taliban overthrew the US-backed Afghan government, the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a major report summing up the failures of 20 years of nation-building in the Central Asian country.

However, this report is more reflective than the rest, coming just weeks before the US occupation of Afghanistan was slated to end, after nearly all US military forces had been transferred out of the country and after the Afghan government crumbled before a nine-day blitzkrieg that has returned to power the Taliban, whose government the US overthrew in the 2001 invasion that started the war.

Confused Goals

“Twenty years later, much has improved, and much has not,” SIGAR chief John Sopko writes in the report. “If the goal was to rebuild and leave behind a country that can sustain itself and pose little threat to US national security interests, the overall picture is bleak.”

Indeed, that’s what US President Joe Biden claimed in a speech the same day the SIGAR report was released.

During the 20-year-long war, 2,443 American troops were killed alongside 3,846 security contractors in the country, many of whom were mercenaries hired to buttress…

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