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$260 Billion U.S. Aid Already Spent to "Rebuild" Afghanistan? A laugh and a half!

According to James A. Lucas, the War in Afghanistan has cost the U.S. taxpayer $260 billion. Lucas translates this into White House rhetoric as being "money for the rebuilding of Afghanistan."

Then he challenges:

Ann Jones, a former humanitarian worker in Afghanistan, not long ago blew the whistle on this scam. The author of Kabul in Winter, she reported that between 2002 and 2008 the U.S. pledged $10.4 billion for development but delivered only $5 billion of that amount, 47 percent of which was paid to American experts, who often were unqualified, instead of going to unemployed Afghans who were supposed to benefit from this aid.

Two more of Ms. Jones' revelations:

1) Public teachers and administrators often leave Afghan institutions to work for private contractors for more money. The Afghan institutions are therefore weakened not strengthened. U.S. money often goes to private contractors for their "literacy programs," etc.

2) 70% of aid is tied to purchasing American products in preference to products originating in Afghanistan. Afghans must buy American agricultural products, thus putting them out of business and driving them to the poppy trade or adding them to the 40% of the population now unemployed.

Lucas provides further glaring reports and abuses of U.S. funding through corruption and/or incompetence over the years in Afghanistan:

1) Ashraf Ghani, the chancellor of Kabul University, stated that about 90 percent of the $1 billion spent on 400 aid projects was wasted.

2) When aid organizations set up and hired 50,000 Afghans to work for them, they were paid $1000 a month. The country’s 280,000 civil servants earned an average of $50 per month, creating a problem of morale and motivation among civil servants. The income disparity also meant that foreign staff (3 – 4,000 foreign civilians) could afford much better housing, which in some areas increased rentals 1000%.

3) The Afghan government estimated in 2006 that it could build a highway between Kabul and Kandahar for $35 million. But the highway was not built by the Afghan government, it was built by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The total cost: $190 million.

4) In 2004 the U.S. built a handful of health clinics, but they were not placed near any trained doctors. Contractors neglected to consult with the local officials or the Ministry of Health. (Lucas reminds us that Afghanistan has a life expectancy rate of 43 years old, the 4th worst child mortality rate in the world, and the maternal mortality rate is second in the world.)

5) USAID projected it would build 286 schools in Afghanistan by the end of 2004. Eight were completed. The Afghan government could build a school for $40,000. But the international aid agency undertook the task of building 500 schools for $250,000 each.

6) Little of U.S. humanitarian aid goes to help ordinary Afghans Lucas contends. It is "subverted by U.S. policy for the counterinsurgency program." Reconstruction teams see their services aimed at gathering intelligence and political activity against the insurgents.

Lucas reports:

Eight leading humanitarian organizations working in Afghanistan, including Oxfam and ActionAid, issued a joint report that was highly critical of the International Security Assistance Force, as the American-led NATO force is known, because of ‘the international militaries’ use of aid as a ‘nonlethal’ weapon of war,” a term coined by the U.S. military.

Territory changes occur during a war. If projects are associated with a particular group, often they will be destroyed as territory changes hands. That has happened frequently with projects like schools and clinics around the country.

Half the country is now inaccessible to UN aid workers. Attacks on aid workers have risen 400% since 2005, possibly as reprisals by the Taliban, who suspected that those workers were furnishing the U.S. military and others with information about the Taliban. Many humanitarian agencies have scaled back their programs.

The American tax dollars are not only enabling death and destruction of the Afghan people and our own and foreign soldiers, as well as the intrepid humanitarian workers, but colossally being wasted on anti-nation building behaviors via violence, corruption and/or incompetence as Congress is about to write another blank check for the "handlers" of this illegal and devastating war.

Afghanistan is not only a military and political amoral quagmire for America, but also a profound and surreal amoral financial one.

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basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

that you not conflate the abuses of the Bush era with what we are attempting now. I don't know how well what we're doing at the moment is working, but it's a new crew of people. What we need to look at to judge our policy now is how well our current plan executed by the current staff is working.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I presented the facts for the dates I had accessible. How interesting that back when I had more faith in Obama I expected vast differences. Now I do, did, admittedly conflate. I also see him as continuing to delegate to the old status quo guards. I see the inertia of the military industrial complex to stay in motion.

Maybe since Obama has not stopped the corporate abuses here, I don't have much faith that he has curbed the corporate abuses and opportunism in the Mid East. But that was not addressed in article I gleaned info from or by me here.

FWIW, $1 billion embassy to be built in Islamabad. No drinking water still in Iraq for 2 out of 3 people according to Dahr Jamail. Blackwater, Xe, seems to be still getting contracts. One would hope the exorbitant cronyism embezzlements have been curbed. I honestly don't know. Will see if I can explore more.

From the nature of the combat strategies, I think the humanitarian workers challenges have continued and worsened. Footnotes in the original article indicate the problems have intensified from 2008 until now.