Donald Trump Jr. has claimed that every U.S. citizen has contributed $265 to the Taliban because of U.S. military equipment that was left behind in Afghanistan and is now under the Islamic group’s control.
Former President Donald Trump’s eldest son took to Twitter on Sunday and shared a graphic from the U.K. newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times that showed what equipment the Taliban now holds.
Trump Jr. then offered a calculation on how much the abandoned equipment is worth, though no such figures were provided in the graphic he shared and the number he cited is similar to one recently debunked by PolitiFact.
Trump Jr. wrote: “For perspective… $85,000,000,000 worth of military being left to Taliban Terrorists means that each and every man, woman, and child in American contributed about $265 to their terrorist cause assuming +/-320 mil citizens.”
“Well done Democrats!” he wrote.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current U.S. population is over 332,691,000.
That $85 billion figure does not appear to be a correct valuation for the equipment left behind in the country.
On August 17, fact-checking website PolitiFact published an article about a viral Facebook meme that had claimed the Biden administration had left equipment in Afghanistan worth $80 billion.
As PolitiFact pointed out, there is no evidence that equipment is worth that much and the $80/$85 billion figure is more likely a reference to what the U.S. has spent on training and equipping the Afghan army and police over the past 20 years.
Estimates of security spending vary from between $83 billion and $88.6 billion over two decades but these figures represent “equipment, supplies, services, training and funding for salaries, as well as facility and infrastructure repair, renovation and construction for providing security in Afghanistan.”
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said in June that the “big question” was “after all the money, $86 billion, and 20 years, why did we see such poor results?”
No accounting has been done of the cost of the U.S. military equipment now in the hands of the Taliban but one expert, John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, has said it’s likely “very little” was spent on equipment, putting the figure at less than $10 billion.
Though it is true that a large amount of equipment is now under Taliban control, including armored Humvees, Blackhawk helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, Trump Jr.’s figure for the cost does not appear to be right, based on available evidence.
The deadline for the final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is August 31 and the administration has said it will continue evacuation operations out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport until that deadline despite an attempted rocket attack on the airport on Monday.
“The President was informed that operations continue uninterrupted at HKIA and has reconfirmed his order that commanders redouble their efforts to prioritize doing whatever is necessary to protect our forces on the ground,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.