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Rendell, Scarborough Agree: U.S. Can't Afford Afghanistan, Should Instead Invest At Home

Afghanistan

First Posted: 09/08/10 02:08 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:35 PM ET

Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor and conservative "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough agree: America cannot afford to spend $2 billion per week in Afghanistan while millions of its own citizens languish without a job.

During a discussion Wednesday about the nation's high unemployment rate, Gov. Ed Rendell proposed a massive federal investment in infrastructure to spur job growth and address the country's flagging transportation, energy and water systems. Scarborough, with an eye on the bottom line, asked about how it would be funded. Arianna, who was also a guest, suggested that the U.S. look towards Afghanistan. Scarborough and Rendell immediately agreed.

"Think about this," Scarborough said, "Over the next week, we will spend over $2 billion in Afghanistan. What if we invested that in our economy? $2 billion a week on a war without end!"

Rendell took Scarborough's figure and expanded on it, imagining what the U.S. could do at home with the money spent on the war in Afghanistan.

"For $2 billion a week, that's $100 billion a year. You could finance a federal capital budget where you're spending 1.1 trillion dollars fixing up our infrastructure. That's the debt service on 1.1 trillion of work. That would keep American manufacturing humming for the next four years."

Scarborough summarized his concerns about Afghanistan. "When we are debt-ridden, when our economy is collapsing, when our troops are spread out across the globe, how do we continue fighting a war without an endgame?, he asked.

Scarborough continued, "Our endgame... is propping up Karzai -- a corrupt, ineffective leader who's suggested he could bolt for the Taliban at any time."

Recent headlines illustrate the group's concerns about Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Afghan police beat back worried crowds outside the only open branch of Kabul Bank. Depositors' frantic withdrawals are stoked by concerns of corruption. Mahmoud Karzai, the bank's third-largest shareholder, is Afghan President Hamid Karzai's older brother and has participated in shady Dubai real estate deals detailed by the Washington Post. The U.S. is now helping Afghanistan bail out the bank, though Treasury officials insist American taxpayer money will not be used.

While taxpayer money might not go towards the bailout of Kabul Bank, it will continue to fund Afghanistan's armed forces for the foreseeable future.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that after 2011, the purported date of an American pull-out, the U.S. expects to pay $6 billion per year through 2015 to fund Afghanistan's army and police forces.

Even as the U.S. plans for such expenditures, it has revised its efforts to stem corruption and adopted a strategy that officially tolerates graft and fraud among members of the Afghan government.

Since 2001, Congress has approved more than $345 billion for the war in Afghanistan and 2,068 service men and women have been killed. About 60% of those deaths have been Americans.

According to a recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal opinion poll, 7 out of 10 Americans do not believe the war will end successfully.

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Filed by T.J. Ortenzi  |