Report: US Spending Projects in Afghanistan Wasteful, Counterproductive

The inspector general's report says reconstruction and infrastructure projects make everything worse

The foolish US strategy in Afghanistan of throwing exorbitant sums of money at reconstruction and wasteful infrastructure projects is making that war-torn country’s problems worse, according to a new report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

“Implementing projects that the Afghan government is unable to sustain may be counterproductive” to the U.S. counterinsurgency mission, the inspector general wrote. “If goals are set and not achieved, both the U.S. and Afghan governments can lose the populace’s support.”

“Until now, most critiques have asserted only that the massive U.S. foreign assistance program has led to waste and fueled corruption,” reports the Washington Post. “The new report goes further by suggesting that some projects may ultimately prove detrimental.”

And that’s when they actually work. Most projects have lost their allocated funding through corruption and criminality. The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan found that up to $60 billion in US war funds were lost due to waste, fraud, and abuse. One report found that one in every six contracting and grant dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan has been wasted.

The assumption behind US spending in Afghanistan, writes Joshua Foust, a fellow at the American Security Project, “was that more is better, and if the government spent a lot of money, then it was clearly accomplishing something.”

“For the last ten years,” Foust continues, “policymakers have promised that if only enough money were spent, then many of the war’s objectives (a strong central government chief among them) would appear and make victory possible.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is still suffering from an intensely violent status quo, one of the most corrupt governments in the world, and an insurgency on the verge of civil war ahead of a partial US withdrawal in 2014. The US debt continues to grow to unsustainable levels, while excessive spending on the war is wasted, lost, and detrimental to the security of the region.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.