I think explaining this lack of knowledge on the part of an expert is rather easy to do. People learn about the things that matter. If someone takes for granted that unlimited funds are available and that there will always be troops to replace the ones that die, there is no reason he would pay much attention to the actual numbers.
From the Washington Times:
The setting was the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Issue: Afghanistan and the transition to fewer U.S. troops post-2014.
The witnesses: James F. Dobbins, State’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan; Donald Sampler, assistant to the administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides civilian foreign aid; and Michael Dumont, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.
When it came time for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, to quiz the witnesses, he asked what he thought was a simple question:
“How much are we spending annually in Afghanistan? How much is the cost to the American taxpayer?”
He was met with stone silence from the witness panel. Mr. Dobbins gestured to the other witnesses for the answer. They, too, came up empty.
“Anybody know?” Mr. Rohrabacker asked. “Nobody knows the total budget, what we’re spending in Afghanistan. It’s a hearing on Afghanistan. Can I have an estimate?
“I’m sorry, congressman,” Mr. Dobbins said.
Mr. Rohrabacker called the lack of an answer “disheartening.”
“How many killed and wounded have we suffered in the last 12 months,” he asked.
Again, none of the three had an answer. Mr. Dumont said he would get back to him.
In addition to thinking that such trivial facts about the Afghanistan war as what it costs us, and how many American troops got killed, really don’t matter, perhaps there is mindset taking hold in our government. Perhaps this is the same arrogance-driven incompetence that is hurting the Obamacare website right now. Maybe people in government get so confident of their special status that they forget they actually need to perform.
For what it’s worth, we’ve lost 118 troops in Afghanistan this year and we’ve spent $92.6 billion.