Conflicts of Interest: The Architects of the Afghan War Failed Upwards

On COI #166, Scott Spaulding – host of Why I’m Antiwar – returns to the show for the third installment of the ‘Villains of the Afghan War’ series. Scott breaks down the role of David Kilcullen, the godfather of counterinsurgency under the Bush administration. Kilcullen found himself in a high-ranking position that he exploited to push his own COIN policy. While his approach failed and the Afghan War ended in disaster, Kilcullen is still named as an expert and continues to profit off the military-industrial complex. 

Scott discusses USAID official James Derleth’s part in the Afghan nation-building effort. Derleth forced American soldiers to ask Afghan citizens questions and fill out forms. The information was useless – but worse, it put US soldiers in danger. He is now a professor who recently spoke at the prestigious West Point military academy. 

Scott also takes aim at Paul Sommers and Ryan Brewster. While working for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the two headed a project that sought to use American soldiers to teach Afghans new farming techniques. However, the Afghans already knew how to farm and the US war had simply made it impossible to grow the fruit trees Sommers planned. In the end, Sommers and Brewster netted no improvement for average Afghans and racked up an expensive tab for American taxpayers in the process.

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