Don’t ever take financial advice from Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw and definitely don’t listen to him when he starts talking about Afghanistan. He apparently has no idea what a “sunk cost” is.
In an interview Monday on MSNBC, Crenshaw advocated for the U.S. to devote more blood and treasure to our 20-plus year feckless effort at making anything worthwhile out of the sandy wasteland that is Afghanistan.
As we watched Kabul fall in an instant this weekend back into the grips of the Taliban, Crenshaw’s immediate thoughts were that this was yet more proof that America should further commit itself to a country 7,000 miles away and with absolutely nothing to offer.
“There’s two choices that we have,” he said. “You either have a residual security force or you have an Islamic authoritarian emirate that is killing people and providing a safe haven for terrorists and bringing us right back to the situation that was pre-9/11. And that doesn’t make people feel very good when you lay out those options but those indeed are the options.”
Crenshaw never defined “residual security force” in terms of how many troops that would require (we’re about to have 7,000 on-site), but he did say it shouldn’t be confused with “100- 200,000 troops” that are tasked with “nation-building.” No, he said, this “residual security force” would “advise,” “assist” and do “training missions” with the Afghan government with the hopes that it wouldn’t collapse into a “failed state.”
That raises the question: When has Afghanistan not been a failed state?
At what point was it successful? So stable was the government that it took one week for the Taliban to retake the capital from the “democracy” we tried to install there.
How did it happen? The “democratic” government we tried to install there allowed it.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Afghan officials were simply taking money from the Taliban in exchange for their weapons. “The deals, initially offered early last year, were often described by Afghan officials as cease-fires, but Taliban leaders were in fact offering money in exchange for government forces to hand over their weapons, according to an Afghan officer and a U.S. official,” the paper said.
That’s what we get after 20 years and $1 trillion.
For Crenshaw, that’s nothing!
“Let’s say it’s 20 years of training and building up an army,” he said on MSNBC. “That’s not a lot of time in the grand timeline of history. It’s actually a very short amount of time.”
I didn’t make that up. He actually said that.
Did you know that if you sat still for 24 hours that your butt would hurt and you would feel very anxious to move, but that there are mountains that have been still for millions of years, so 24 hours is actually a very short amount of time?
On the Afghan men who we tried turning into soldiers, only to see them choose more death and rubble with the Taliban, well, that’s a minor setback as far as Crenshaw can tell.
“On training the military, did they give up: Yeah they did, obviously,” he said. “That hurts my heart as much as anybody else but we can’t fall into the sunk cost fallacy on this. Just because we spent a lot of money doesn’t mean we should cut and run.”
A sunk cost fallacy refers to the unwise pursuit of an objective at future cost, solely or in large part, because a person has already invested considerable resources. That is precisely what Crenshaw would have us do in Afghanistan.
Crenshaw logic: We’ve spent a lot of money in Afghanistan with nothing to show for it. That’s no reason to leave!
Logical person logic: We’ve spent a lot money in Afghanistan with nothing to show for it. That’s no reason to stay.
If you buy a movie ticket, sit down, and hate the film 20 minutes in, it would be smart to leave and go do something you actually enjoy instead, even though you just wasted $10. By contrast, it would be stupid to sit there for the remainder of the show just because you wasted $10.
(Then again, maybe Crenshaw watched the full 2019 rendition of “Cats” in earnest.)
That’s the situation in Afghanistan. Admittedly, the whole thing looks like a botched abortion thanks to President Biden allowing the airport and evacuating flights to be overrun by civilians while the Taliban quickly gets to work chopping up Kabul. But we still have to go.
The time, money, and lives America devoted to Afghanistan is a sunk cost. Don’t let Crenshaw make that a selling point for more of it.