For most US officials, the long-standing talking point on the disastrous failure of the Afghan reconstruction scheme was the almost legendary levels of corruption in Afghan society. It could be a chicken and the egg thing, however, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan’s Reconstruction (SIGAR).
While the report conceded that corruption had undermined the US mission in Afghanistan, it also warned that the massive amounts of US aid flowing into Afghanistan with little to no oversight was itself the primary reason corruption kept growing so dramatically.
The report said that the US often provided annual reconstruction aid in excess to Afghanistan’s entire GDP, many-fold times what developing states can generally absorb. A lot of US aid was a “cash business,” with the US shipping in large quantities of currency and keeping little to no paperwork on where it was ending up.
Unsurprisingly, with the reconstruction aid bigger than the entire Afghan economy and up for grabs with little effort, a large chunk of Afghanistan transitioned from traditional economic activity into scamming the aid industry. With that lasting for over a decade, Afghan society was transformed into one where bribery and corruption is a way of life.