$8 billion - and no accounting of it? That's the GOP we have come to know and love, isn't it? And notice how this story has stirred minimal outrage on the bloggy right. If $8 billion were going to the poor in America, you'd sure hear of it. Juan Cole:

In the chaotic days after the fall of the Baath government and the collapse of the old economy, Paul Bremer & Co. attempted to jump-start the Iraq market economy by giving out large sums in brown paper bags with no questions asked. They did not understand that the Iraqi market had been killed by decades of government control and that no magic hand any longer existed, so they might as well have taken that money and buried it in the ground.

Meanwhile:

About $60 billion have poured into Afghanistan since 2001 in hopes of bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to the crippled country. The U.S. alone has committed $51 billion to the project since 2001, and plans to raise the stakes to $71 billion over the next year more than it has spent on reconstruction in Iraq since 2003.

An Associated Press investigation showed that the results so far or lack of them threaten to do more harm than good. The number of Afghans with access to electricity has increased from 6 percent in 2001 to only about 10 percent now, far short of the goal of providing power to 65 percent of urban and 25 percent of rural households by the end of this year.

The madness of the national security state deepens. As the new chief for Af-Pak just stated emphatically:

"We are not leaving."

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.