The Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Saturday weighed in on the situation in Afghanistan, describing it as “largely a wealth transfer from U.S. taxpayers to military contractors.”
The comment adds to those from other observers who have zeroed in on the role of military contractors. Saqib Qureshi, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, wrote a recent Newsweek op-ed entitled “Taliban Didn’t Win in Afghanistan, the Defense Contractors Did.”
On Twitter, many responded to Taleb’s post by noting that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said years ago the goal in Afghanistan “is to have an endless war not a successful war,” in order to “wash money out of the tax bases of the United States…into the hands of the transnational security elite.”
Taleb responded in a tweet, “I am not claiming conspiracy, just facts.”
In 2009, The Sunday Times called The Black Swan one of the 12 books that changed the world. In it, Taleb outlines the impact of unpredictable events and how people try to find explanations and reasoning for them.
Taleb’s most recent post on Afghanistan wasn’t his first. On Wednesday, he compared the clarity of mind of a D.C. analyst examining the Afghanistan situation to a box of tangled wires. He also claimed that day that the Irish philosopher Edmund Burke was “The thinker most vindicated by Afghanistan: change that’s not progressive, slow, & pragmatic ends up blowing up (Reflections on the Revolution in France).”
Many Afghans are trying to flee their country, which has fallen under the control of the Taliban amid a much-criticized U.S. withdraw. Over the past week, the U.S. struggled to quickly evacuate embassy personnel and Afghans who helped Americans throughout a war spanning two decades.
Images and videos that circulated on social media showed thousands of people flooding the tarmac of Kabul’s international airport, with some clinging to U.S. military planes during takeoff.
On Monday President Joe Biden, during his first address about the situation in Afghanistan, insisted that he made the right decision to pull out U.S. troops.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future.”
Weighing in on whether the Taliban pose a threat to the U.S., Biden said, “There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa… We don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re gonna be protected.”