The real problem in Afghanistan isn’t the U.S. general running the war, it’s the guy running the country.

Monday, The Wall Street Journal revealed that as much as $3.65 billion per year is flown out of the country through the airport in Kabul.

It leaves in everything from suitcases to pallets of cash. We’re not sure how much money you can cram onto a pallet, but we’re betting it’s a bunch.

Worse, this is the money that leaves legally, declared at customs by individuals and spirited away. Nobody knows how much money crosses borders stuffed in people’s backpacks, pockets and car trunks.

To put this into perspective, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is $13.5 billion, which is the value of all goods and services produced. That nearly a quarter of it takes a hike each year is staggering.

Those suspected of shipping out the cash include relatives of President Harmid Karzai and senior officials in his administration plus their family members and associates, according to The Wall Street Journal story.

Most of the money travels to Dubai, where wealthy Afghans have “long parked their lawfully and unlawfully earned money,” according to the Journal.

It is believed that some or all of the money is diverted Western aid intended to build the country’s infrastructure.

Which raises an obvious question: If the Afghanis are unwilling to invest in their own country, why should we?

More important, why should the U.S. be sacrificing a far more important resource — the lives of our soldiers — on a country whose leadership is betting against their own future?

The report comes on top of other pieces of bad news.

A report Tuesday by a special inspector general found that the U.S. military brass has systematically overstated or failed to measure the capabilities of the Afghan security forces that are expected to one day take over this war.

Among the challenges: Not enough trainers and underpaid recruits who are often illiterate and more loyal to their tribes than their country, leaving them unwilling to fight and prone to desertion.

That report comes on the heels of another last week that uncovered a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, which leaves the U.S. paying tens of millions to warlords, corrupt officials and even the Taliban to ensure safe passage of supply convoys.

We need to pay the Afghani people from attacking our own supply lines? That’s nuts.

All this comes amid a military strategy that has stalled. The offensive in Marja is undecided after six months of fighting, and the battle to reclaim the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar has been postponed.

U.S. troops, meanwhile, are handcuffed by strict rules of engagement which leave them too often unable to defend themselves.

Gen. David Patraeus, appointed to replace McChrystal, found a way to turn around the war in Iraq when it looked its bleakest.

Perhaps he can find a way to win this one, too.

But, unless we get an Afghan leadership willing to fight corruption and quit looting the U.S. Treasury, the outlook is grim.

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