The Afghan money pit grows deeper still

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

25 comments Add your comment

[...] The Afghan money pit grows deeper stillAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)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 … [...]

DeborahinAthens

December 29th, 2010
6:56 am

Wrong, wrong, wrong. There were NO “sound reasons for our initial involvement in Afghanistan”. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were from the southern part of Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was marginally involved. Bin Laden is not from Afghanistan and probably has not been in Afghanistan for years and years. That hell hole was a stopping point for the terrorists. Ironically, Iraq and Sadam were perhaps a stabilizing force in the Middle East. And Bush blew that stability to hell and back. Because George W. Bush was busy kissing the Saudi Arabian Prince in the Rose Garden (love my oil, you gotta love ME!) he and his pathetic minions-Cheney,Rumsfeld, Rove, Ashcroft et. al. either never had sight of the real target, or intentionally misled the American people. I gotta go with intentional lying to achieve some purpose, we can yet fathom. You cannot fight terrorists in a “war”. Terrorists are thugs–not a sovereign country–so you fight them with international police forces trained to ferret the various plots out of the mess in the world. Do you really think the war in Iraq and Afghanistan have stopped terrorist plots? No. They have made the problem worse, because we have destroyed what little infrastructure and government they had, and now we are perceived to be invaders–not “rescuers” the way Bush and Cheney painted us. Have the fantastic work by various police departments around the world stopped terrorist plots? YES! Can anything stop every attempt? NO! If a terrorist is smart and wants to kill us, they will kill us. Meanwhile, you have a much higher probability of dying on I-85 than you do at the hands of a terrorist. We are idiots. These two unwinnable wars will ultimately destroy this country, and we are so stupid, we just keep lining the pockets of every bogus “leader” in those two pits. Before I go, I have another rant. It makes me sick to see the billions of dollars spent in this country trying to stop the import of drugs when we have soldiers in Afghanistan guarding the poppy fields so that the Afghans won’t lose their one cash crop! Talk about further insanity!

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5 Easy Pieces

December 29th, 2010
7:50 am

Genghis Khan failed to secure Afghanistan, it’s true. Alexander the Great’s campaign got mired down in the dust. The only person who tamed that country was Taras Bulbar, (as played by Yul Brynner). Even during that occupation, if’n Taras hadn’t waxed his son, Tony Curtis, for coverting with Afghan girls/spies (gone wild), his army woulda been smushed by the Taliban.

You see, people, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, (all the also rans), are ancient, ancient, as in old, countries in which history goes back 50K years. The arbitrary borders that divide these countries are invisible and meaningless lines on a map. It’s the tribal liasons, (which are so old and so convoluted that we will never figure them out), that prevent any invader from succeeding.

So when a “journalist” loser writes about Pakistan cooperating with the USA to “get Bin Laden”, then you know that the author is a total hack and a complete self-actualized, self-deluded smutz.

It’s probably okay to let the “terrorists” or “mountain people” stay in their caves. That’s like burying them, isn’t it?

Bush’s adventurous nation building while our common sense slept, is the stand-alone criminal act of this century and historians will compare the aftermath to Barbarosa’s wake. Bush and Cheney. A conspiracy of the eloquent. Nookyoular…..Rrraahhh……Waste one’s mind……Rrrrrahhhh……fool me twice, er….Rrrrahhhhh.

Rocket Tubes. WMDs. Tora Bora. Bush. Cheney. Nightmare words, acronyms and places and people.

Bush. The name will rank up there people, as the full extent of this waterloo wikileaks.

LeeH1

December 29th, 2010
8:29 am

Unless you change the culture, the underlying causes won’t change. Teach boys how to read and write, and you have educated men. Teach girls how to read and write, and they will teach their children.

Women are powerless and abused in Afghan society. Give each woman a stipend, and you wlll give them power. That power is cheaper to buy than it costs to wage a war against men.

Change the male-female relationships in Afghanistan, and you will change the culture. Give the women some power and some stability, and the country will come from the 7th century into the 19th. Now, that’s progress!

jconservative

December 29th, 2010
8:52 am

DeborahinAthens at 6:56 am – wonderful piece of writing. I do not totally agree but a wonderful “rant”.

I view the fundamental problem of Afghanistan is the inability of the US, under both Bush and Obama, to appreciate the “feudal” nature of that country. Afghanistan is an 12th century feudal society. There is no central authority. Has not been for the past 5000 years. Yet the US is trying to build a central authority to rule the country.

Several people in the military and diplomatic offices in the US have been pointing to the feudal nature of Afghanistan for years. But as a matter of policy we keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

The only way to deal with the existing authority in Afghanistan is by dealing with the dozens of feudal leaders on a one on one basis. And most of those are “unsavory” in the eyes of the US (see the LeeH1 post at 8:29 am).

There are no experts in feudalism in the US or Europe. The last great western feudal leader was Eleanor of Aquataine and she died in 1204.

And so we flounder like a fish out of water.

Trapped in a Red state

December 29th, 2010
9:11 am

Bob, I agree with you 100%
Now if we go back 9 years, why did everyone get it so wrong…and I do mean EVERYONE, including…me.

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carlosgvv

December 29th, 2010
11:12 am

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear bombs. Al Quida is trying as hard as they can to overthrow the Pakistani Govt. If they did, there might well be a nucelar war between Pakistan and India since Al Quida hates Hindu India as much as they do us. If this happens, not only will millions of people be killed but China’s reaction would definitely not be in our best interests. I suspect the real reason we are in Afghanistan is to prevent this war. It also seems certain the American people will never be told this.

Michael H. Smith

December 29th, 2010
11:15 am

Women are powerless and abused in Afghan society.

Muslim women or women in Muslim ruled countries have been convinced that they are powerless. When your God and everybody tells you that you are less than an equal in your society, you tend never to disagree with what you are told.

The key, is indeed, held in the hands of the oppressed Muslim women. “The Lipstick Revolution” stands as testament of that fact. Iran and radical Islam fears their women more than any other foe or force in the world. For only they can readily defeat them.

Common Man

December 29th, 2010
11:57 am

Whats the problem?…sounds to me like the Government we are trying to establish is accurately mirroring our own.

PETE CORNISH

December 29th, 2010
1:51 pm

How come so-called conservative columnists don’t at least call out (primarily) Republican members of Congress who support these continued wars and surges but still haven’t found a way to pay for them except running up enormous debts that our children and grandchildren will have to pay for?

Dave

December 29th, 2010
2:59 pm

Maybe, Pete, because politicians of both parties supported both invasions. So don’t lie about it. The Democrats conveniently turned on them the moment they became unpopular, but if they were so against the wars then maybe they shouldn’t have voted in favor of them.

Also, the reason we (and all other invading nations) have failed in Afghanistan is because we’re trying to do nation-building. If we just went in there and wiped out every living thing, leaving it a barren wasteland completely unpopulated, then we’d have been done in short order and home within a year or two.

Darwin

December 29th, 2010
3:23 pm

We are stuck there because to withdrawl would mean the Repubs accusing Obama of “losing the war.” Maybe if the right wing cared more about the country than just power, we could actually have policies that make sense.

Dave

December 29th, 2010
3:33 pm

The Democrat party is in power currently, has been in the Congress since 2006 and has had both the executive and legislative branches since 2008. If they wanted to end the war, they could have. They didn’t. I guess that means that, despite the looney-tune leftist ranting on the Commie blogs, the leadership of the Democrat party really doesn’t agree with its peace-and-love, 60s stupidity base.

killerj

December 29th, 2010
5:31 pm

They need money for all the projects you will never know about,why do think their gunning for wikieleaks so hard for? as usual caught with the hand in the cookie jar,you think Hiliary knows anything? your dam right,no I had nothing to do with Whitewater or the Hildibergers,wake up America,go Tea Party!

GW

December 29th, 2010
10:20 pm

is our children learning?

Howard

December 30th, 2010
8:39 am

Bob…I voted for George Bush twice and would do it again, esp. if faced with the same caliber of Democrat candidates. But I really feel that two of the biggest mistakes made in USA foreign policy in recent history were Bush removing Saddam and getting us involved in Afghanistan. Saddam was the 600-lb. gorilla that Iran feared greatly. The Afghanistan debacle became a buffet line for military industries to get super rich. They still are under Hussein Obama might I add. The other huge foreign policy mistake was Jimmy carter helping dump the Shah of Iran and installing an Islamic dictatorship. Could you imagine a Middle East with Anwar Sadat still alive and in power, the Shah and his family still ruling Iran and Saddam in power in Iraq. Guarantee you things would be a lot smoother and less dangerous. Oh, why should it surprise anyone this country cannot win a war in Afghanistan? Hell, since the end of World War II, this country hasn’t fought one major conflict with the goal of total victory. The philosophy has been: slap them on the hand and don’t offend them.

emo

December 30th, 2010
1:13 pm

Why are we in Afghanistan?

al Quaida is in Pakistan, which is at least making a half-hearted attempt to eradicate them. If the Taliban take over in Afghanistan they would allow al Quaida back from Pakistan with no-one to bother them, and then it’s back to early 2001. How did that work out for us?

By the way, maybe it’s just me, but as soon as I run into “Democrat party” in a post, I skip to the next one. If you’re that illiterate, i don’t care what you have to say.

Big Jim

December 30th, 2010
1:39 pm

Dave and other dicks,if a marraige ends because of the CURRENT participants,why blame the Next husband for the infidelity of the first?
That’s how we have ended up in this mess. For the New Year, drop your paranoia and fears in the nearest trashcan. We’re allowing Bob Barr/Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Glenn Beck/etc. to scare us to death!!!!!!

GWB WAS the President from 2000 to 2008, and the aforementioned CHAMPIONS of JUSTICE rattled the cages of “enlightened” conservatives, or should I say borderline racist/willing to believe anything that is against a minority. Years later,why are we griping about AFGHANISTAN? I thought kunservatives had it all figured out. I thought BOB BARR was a lousy republican at one time. Why don’t we re-institute Commissions on War Crimes,maybe we can finally eradicate the disease of CONSERVATISM once and for all.

Unless you still want to continue to blame MLK Jr.,Barack Obama,and Keith Olberman for all of the worlds problems! Some of you will!

retiredds

December 30th, 2010
2:04 pm

Just maybe, Bob, we would have been out of Afghanistan if the last president hadn’t been so intent on invading Iraq we wouldn’t have had to cycle back to Afghanistan to clean up what was left done by the prior administration.

Big Jim

December 30th, 2010
2:38 pm

retiredds

December 30th, 2010
2:04 pm
Just maybe, Bob, we would have been out of Afghanistan if the last president hadn’t been so intent on invading Iraq we wouldn’t have had to cycle back to Afghanistan to clean up what was left done by the prior administration.

Even though I agree, kunservatives will brand us TRAITORS for speaking the truth. Why have we been treated like sheep, because most of us act like sheep! Why do we keep allowing RICH A-HOLES who claim to know EXACTLY what’s going on to control our thoughts,.. why would a person allow kunservative loud mouths to tell them what to be angry over? I learned as a child that it was very uncomfortable to fight someone else’s battles,especially when they weren’t around to help clean me up afterwards!

Remember when BARR fought the “good fight”,paid for by the citizens,by getting Bill Clinton to fess up about cheating on his wife? Remeber how a dejected Bob Barr took his ball and ran home because republicans rolled right past him! Barr was a kunservative watchdog who ultimately became a casualty of “war”. Why change to a libertarian,they’re just like republicans?

Big Jim

December 30th, 2010
2:39 pm

Sorry for the typos!

j

December 30th, 2010
5:31 pm

Now what is another billion dollars? The Afghan police steal truckloads of gas, gas is going for $3.50 a gallon and they have all they need at our expense. Corruption is rampant. Afghan judges make decisions on who is giving the biggest bribe. High ranking police officials reap huge payoffs from hashish smugglers. Corruption is a bigger threat than the Taliban.

Lastly it only takes 50 Taliban to controll 100,000 people. The Taliban took 3 men from their homes, burned them, chopped their limbs off with axes. They are highly feared as one might suspect.
Now, I do not think the U.S. should be paying a billion dollars for all that. And besides, why would the Afgan police want to fight, they know if they don’t our troops will do the fighting for them.

Rhett

December 30th, 2010
5:57 pm

Big Jim…weuns be missin you at Tara