U.S. Spent Billions on Afghanistan and Failed to Build a Sustainable Economy

KABUL—The U.S. spent $145 billion over two decades in Afghanistan to turn one of the poorest nations on earth into a self-sustaining economy—the boldest effort this century at Western nation-building. That project has largely failed.

Afghanistan’s economy did grow, and millions of Afghans gained access to education, healthcare and jobs. But the economy that the U.S. helped build relies overwhelmingly on foreign aid, most of which evaporated overnight. Afghanistan’s economy—and the welfare of its people—is on the verge of collapse following the U.S. exit last month and the Taliban takeover, international experts say.

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