Thursday, October 02, 2014

American taxpayers fleeced by Afghan reconstruction

Paying Afghanistan’s Bills

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, NYT
OCT. 1, 2014

By the end of the year, Congress will have appropriated more money for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, when adjusted for inflation, than the United States spent rebuilding 16 European nations after World War II under the Marshall Plan.

A staggering portion of that money — $104 billion — has been mismanaged and stolen. Much of what was built is crumbling or will be unsustainable. Well-connected Afghans smuggled millions of stolen aid money in suitcases that were checked onto Dubai-bound flights. The Afghan government largely turned a blind eye to widespread malfeasance. Even as revelations of fraud and abuse stacked up, the United States continued shoveling money year after year because cutting off the financial spigot was seen as a sure way to doom the war effort.

As the Pentagon winds down its combat mission there at the end of the year, it’s tempting to think of the Afghan war as a chapter that is coming to an end — at least for American taxpayers. But, as things stand, the United States and its allies will continue paying Afghanistan’s bills for the foreseeable future. That commitment was solidified Tuesday as the American ambassador in Kabul and Afghanistan’s security adviser signed a bilateral security agreement that will keep a small contingent of NATO troops there for at least two years.

The United States and NATO partners recently agreed to spend $5.1 billion a year to pay for the army and police, until at least 2017. Western donors are expected to continue to give billions more for reconstruction and other initiatives, recognizing that Afghanistan won’t be weaned off international aid anytime soon. In fact, the government appears to be broke.

(More here.)

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