Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, American taxpayers, you are on the hook for another billion dollars the federal government has decided to spend in a continuing, vain effort to train Afghanistan’s corrupt and incompetent soldiers.
Corruption in the Afghan police is the rule rather than the exception. The UK-based paper, The Telegraph, noted during the summer that, rather than fighting insurgents, the police actually had been “fueling the insurgency.” Distrust with police among Afghans is so pronounced that many citizens have are seeking out the Taliban as protectors.
Much of the corruption travels from the top down, as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s government has set the standard for corruption. Using cables recently released by WikiLeaks, The New York Times determined that Afghanistan is a country where “bribery, extortion and embezzlement are the norm and the honest official is a distinct outlier.” These were among the reasons conservative columnist George Will was calling for withdrawal of our forces from the country last year.
Just nine months ago Newsweek reported that despite $6 billion in funding since 2002 to train Afghanistan’s police forces, they were nowhere near ready to serve. And according to one veteran Afghan police officer, most of the recruits “don’t listen, are undisciplined, and will never be real policemen.” So much for nation building.
Extending this contract to a company responsible for training the same forces it has for the last seven years is an exercise in futility. Not only are taxpayers doling out money to a company that has not delivered any results, a recent audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found the almost $18 billion awarded to contractors to help rebuild the country from 2007 to 2009 is caught up in a system described as a “confusing labyrinth.” None of this paints a very encouraging picture.
At nine years, the military engagement in Afghanistan now constitutes America’s longest-ever war. While there clearly were sound reasons for our initial involvement in Afghanistan in 2001 – after all, we were attacked on September 11, 2001 by terrorists operating in and out of that remote country — we soon lost focus in the war on terrorism and have yet to regain perspective.
Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British Empire, and the Soviets have all given a shot at taming this rugged and tribal-based country; each one failed miserably. Unfortunately, we have failed to learn from the history that gave Afghanistan the nickname the “Graveyard of Empires.” To this moniker can now be added, “The Money Pit.”
- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code