Phil Richardson: Let’s get out of Afghanistan

By Phil Richardson

In the past nine years, there have been 2,386 American military deaths and 20,049 wounded in Afghanistan. There would have many more, if military medicine had not made the advances it has since 1970. Beyond this awful price, what has the $4.79-Trillion the Watson Institute of Brown University says the US has wasted in Afghanistan in the past decade, gained us? Once we got bin Laden, we should have declared ourselves winners and without hesitation, brought everyone home.

The word from the Pentagon is that the generals want another 3,000 to 6000 troops in Afghanistan. What will this accomplish that nine years of blood, sweat and tears has not? Remember that both Great Britain, at the height of its power, and most recently Russia, failed miserably in their attempts to civilize a people whose sport is to fight ruthlessly over a desiccated, dead calf in a giant melee’ while mounted; whose principal incomes are derived almost entirely from the cultivation of opium poppies.

Remember the former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, with the big cape and lambs-wool Nehru cap; sitting up there in the balcony of Congress with Michelle Obama, while her husband addressed Congress? Multi-millionaire Karzai is now bad-mouthing the US. due to regrettable casualties suffered by civilians among whom the Taliban are hiding. He certainly was never much help when he was in office, and neither was the impotent, corrupt, less than useless Afghan army.

The Afghan people do not have the will to save their nation. For us to continue trying to do so for them is an exercise in futility.

Once again, the Taliban is whipping the weak, corruption-ridden Afghan forces under President Ashran Ghani, exactly like the Viet Cong decimated the corruption-ridden south Vietnamese army before we fled— to forever mourn fifty-thousand of our valiant dead in Southeast Asia. One cannot visit the magnificent monument or even view The Wall on a computer screen without weeping. If we Americans did not learn from this supremely tragic experience, nothing can save us from self-immolation.

To turn the famous statement by Winston Churchill on its head: “Never before have so few stolen so much from so many in such a short time.” According to the Wilson Institute at Brown University, at least one-billion-dollars is missing from The Bank of Kabul. Officers and shareholders such as CEO Khalilullah Ferozi and bank president Sherkan Farood, deliberately hid the scale of massive withdrawals by friends and relatives. Mahmoud Karzai, Hamid Karzai’s brother, got $22-million. No one is expected to pay anything back. No one is serving time for a theft of gargantuan proportions, and probably never will in that irredeemably corrupt society. Genghis Khan treated his people better than Afghan presidents treat theirs. The New York Times recently stated that U.S. efforts to fight the corruption at all levels in Afghanistan is a total failure.

MORE DISTURBING INFORMATION: According to “The Center for Integrity,” an International Watchdog group recognized for investigating the financial shenanigans of certain law firms in Panama and offshore “banks,” charge that U.S. personnel in Afghanistan have stolen and resold at least $15-million in fuel, from which they personally profited. It was inevitable that the ingrained corruption of Afghanistan would rub off on some of our military.

I’m angry as Hell. It is heart-breaking to continue to post the faces of fallen heroes: young men and women, most of whom appear to me to be hardly teen-agers, whose photos I am compelled to post on Facebook almost every day. For God’s sake, bring those who still survive home, NOW!

This past weekend I watched TV as American soldiers made their way through a giant poppy field in Afghanistan The huge pods are waist-high, bursting with juice, and ready for the harvest. Once again, the farmers of Afghanistan have returned that dry, dusty, and blood-smeared piece of real estate to being the producer of 90-percent of the world’s opium. The simple process of refining it into heroin has been known for thousands of years. Believe me, the tears of those poppies are ending up in the arms of addicts all over America, or soon will be. Opium is by far the chief GDP of Afghanistan—like wheat is the biggest crop in Nebraska or corn in Iowa.

Henry Kissinger, where are you when we need you more than ever?


Phil Richardson, Observer of the human condition and storyteller, is a retired broadcast executive residing in Tucson, Arizona. He is the author of three books – “Water Dream,” “The Prosperity Coal Company” and “Miguel: Narcotraficante.” All are available at

“He goes doddering on into his old age, making a public nuisance of himself.” – Joseph L. Menchen



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