Thursday, July 23

Afghan Tragedy: U.S. State Department institutionalized corruption

I'll have a few words to say to the State Department after these quotes:

From Nasir Shansab's hard-hitting report today for Newsmax, Corruption, Complacency Are Ruining Afghanistan's Economy

The fact that the CIA regularly sent Karzai bags full of cash buttressed the regime’s conviction that in the West, too, officials lined their pockets at the expense of the people. Since the money was in cash and receipts were neither demanded nor received, Karzai and his cohorts concluded that CIA officials took a cut for themselves before handing over the money.
After the expenditure of more than $100 billion for Afghanistan’s economic rehabilitation, most observers wonder where the money went.
The money went to a buddy of the Karzai brothers who manipulated a USAID bid for two power plans, and subsequently installed inferior generator sets than had been prescribed. Despite having received written instructions that the imported equipment couldn’t be shipped through Iran because of American-imposed sanctions, he violated American law by having the equipment shipped through the pariah country.

The money went to a minister who colluded with a Russian company, which had been contracted to repair and upgrade Afghanistan’s largest hydroelectric power plant. 

Cooperating with the company, the minister approved false progress reports, enabling the company to cash most, if not all, the contract amount without having completed the job.

And here is the strangest part: USAID was informed of the manipulation of the bid, the installation of low-grade generator sets, and the shipment of the equipment via Iran. It did nothing. Even the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (SIGAR) investigated this unambiguous case of fraud but finally closed the file and chose to remain silent.

The World Bank, which was paying for the repair of the hydroelectric power plant, was also informed of what had transpired in that case. It, too, did nothing about it. The work on Afghanistan’s largest hydroelectric power plant has remained unfinished, while the U.S. and the international community spend public money to purchase electricity from Afghanistan’s neighbors so that at least Kabul, the capital city, has some power 

The question as to why USAID and the World Bank decided not to act in these cases remains unanswered.

These are a few examples. There are uncounted others. The sum of all this is that after 13 years of massive financial help, a few Afghans have become very rich and some companies have been overpaid for shoddy work or for jobs they actually didn’t do. It is no wonder that Afghanistan is very far off from a self-sustaining economy and heavily depends on foreign financial handouts.

Drs. Ghani and Abdullah must set their disagreements aside for only a decisive government could tackle Afghanistan’s dire political and economic conditions. The two leaders have sworn to serve the interest of their poverty-stricken people. They must act accordingly. 

Dr. Ghani, who has worked for the World Bank, should know that developing Afghanistan’s economy requires massive amounts of foreign private investment. Without the inflow of such funds, the country will neither be able to resuscitate its economy nor to wean itself off from foreign subsidies. 

However, to attract private investment, the Afghan government must depersonalize the law and base it on institutions. It must democratize government institutions and prosecute decisively major cases of corruption and institute an ethical approach toward financial and economic matters. 

Without such reforms, Afghanistan will remain a failed state and a ward of the international community. The Afghan people deserve better.


I omitted passages in Shansab's discussion about Karzai's corruption, which is so well known it's hardly worth mentioning. However, missing from the discussion, and from all others in a similar vein, is the simple fact that Karzai played Monkey See, Monkey Do. 

He noted how the State Department treated Pakistan and didn't see why he couldn't play by the same rules:  If the Americans try to get tough, hold a gun to your head and scream, "I'm gonna throw you out."

But here is my question for State: What year is this?  1982?  

Do you not understand that it can no longer be business as usual?  For all its pandering to Karzai's regime, the U.S. government is now facing the ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that China will control Afghanistan.  

If there is not one person at State with the courage to say this to the U.S. Congress at a public hearing, then let's stop screwing around. Let's go straight to a military rule in the United States; this would reduce the role of State to overseeing diplomats and remove USAID from its control.      


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