US Aid May be Fueling Afghan Insurgency

Karzai government and banking sector hamper anti-corruption efforts

by John Glaser, July 20, 2011

The billions of dollars of American aid flowing into Afghanistan every year may be inadvertently fueling the insurgency and the corruption rampant within the government and financial sectors, according to a new report. The audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that lack of oversight or control of where money is disbursed has left vast sums of U.S. aid “vulnerable to fraud or diversion to insurgents.”

Public support for the war has been waning primarily due to doubts about the failed military strategy, but the fact that taxpayer money is counterproductive to the war aims should bring added criticism. Indeed, the report details several instances where the Karzai government deliberately obstructed anti-corruption efforts by U.S. agencies and refused to prosecute Afghan criminals, despite the faithful flow of American money. 

This is not the first of such reports. Last year, it was found that $3 billion in diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars had been smuggled out of Kabul International Airport to financial safe havens or laundered to private ventures abroad. Similarly, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Democratic majority staff last month concluded that U.S. nation-building efforts were fueling corruption, distorting local economies, and did not provide sustainable results. 

The U.S. effort in Afghanistan lacks a coherent military strategy, comes at a painfully high human cost, and is as full of waste and corruption as the Afghan government itself. The pretense, forced upon the Afghan people for the last decade, that America knows best how to build a sustainable, legitimate nation consistent with the rule of law is simply not borne out by these revelations.

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