Afghanistan: About as Corrupt as They Come

Nation Rivaled Only by Somalia in Sheer Corruption

How bad is Afghanistan? It’s so bad that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was able to run hundreds of fictitious polling sites, have over a million fraudulent votes cast on his behalf, then was able to get the run-off canceled after refusing to address voter fraud, then was saluted as the legitimately elected leader of Afghanistan by the international community.

It’s so bad that President Karzai’s brother is reportedly simultaneously on the take from opium traders and the CIA, and is still a member of the parliament.

It’s so bad that the international forces, the ones that have been promising to clean up Afghanistan and nation-build, are openly ordering troops on the ground to bribe insurgents instead of fighting them.

It should not come as much of a surprise, then, that Afghanistan finished virtually dead last in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Only Somalia, a country with its “government” controlling a few city blocks and awash in US weapons, is in the same ballpark.

International aid continues to pour into Afghanistan, but where it goes once it arrives, nobody really knows. Officials have expressed hope that Karzai will “battle corruption” now that his second term has started, but that seems unreasonable as well. If there is a silver lining, it is that corruption can’t even hypothetically get much worse.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.