A U.S. initiative to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan, originally pitched as a vital tool in the military campaign against the Taliban, is running so far behind schedule that it will not yield benefits until most U.S. combat forces have departed the country, according to a government inspection report to be released Monday.
The report, by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, also concludes that the Afghan government will not have the money or skill to maintain many of the projects, creating an “expectations gap” among the population that could harm overall stabilization efforts. ...WaPo
If you can keep your eyes and ears closed when Washington talks about Afghanistan, you will have recognized already that our efforts there have been costly and largely ineffectual. Or worse.
“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.” ...WaPo
From invasion, to surge, to -- what was that guy's name? the guy who was supposed to be so great? Petraeus? -- we've been kidding ourselves. Petraeus has "retired" to the CIA. The Post reminds us that he once said that cash was "one of his most important weapons." We all feel that way about cash, at one time or another. It usually just gets us into more trouble.
Until now, most critiques have asserted only that the massive U.S. foreign assistance program has led to waste and fueled corruption. The new report goes further by suggesting that some projects may ultimately prove detrimental. ...WaPo
"Bridge to nowhere" is how one high-ranking officer described one key electrification project in Afghanistan. That could be said of the whole American invasion of Afghanistan, from soup to nuts. Except we started with nuts -- George W. Bush and Dick Cheney -- and now we're in the soup.
Obama's role in all this? One response to the Post's report is this: "Obama's ratings would go up 10% if he pulled out of Afghanistan right now. 'Change you can believe in.'"