Yesterday, Hamid Karzai told the Afghan parliament two things:
(1) "Corruption has reached its peak in Afghanistan" --
and (2) Afghanistan expects to receive another $4 billion from the West at a donor summit next month in Japan.
Lemme tell ya, so long as money is involved -- any amount of money -- corruption will never reach its peak in Afghanistan. Which means we Westerners should zip our change purses and pony up no more than is needed to fly our Afghan-based citizens home. Every additional dime and dollar, million and billion is a waste.
There is an added danger in supporting the grotesquely expensive Afghan habit: participating in, navigating, coping with this lawless, morally backward culture of Islamic corruption is a deeply and endemically corrupting process to us, too. Somehow, our ways don't much rub off on them; but their ways too much rub off on us.
This week's headlines alone should persuade any Western government to dry out from Afghanistan and safeguard rule of law.
Maybe it's just me but I sure wish Mitt Romney would read them.
The Telegraph, June 20:
"Hamid Karzai government under fire for oil deal with company run by cousin/Anti-corruption campaigners and diplomats have challenged Hamid Karzai's government for awarding a $3bn oil deal to a company run by a cousin who was jailed in the United States for drug trafficking."
Quotation from story:
"I think we all desperately hoped that British soldiers were dying for something more noble than helping Karzai's drug dealing cousin to sell gas from northern Afghanistan to the Chinese," one former senior diplomat to Kabul told The Daily Telegraph.
Agence France Press, June 19:
"U.N probes suspected fraud at Afghan police fund"
KABUL — The UN Development Programme is investigating allegations of fraud at a $1.4 billion fund for paying Afghan police officers, the organisation said on Monday. ...
The probe is focusing on potential misuse of a $2.2 million procurement budget, the Journal said.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), an anti-corruption watchdog, warned in May that LOTFA, which is responsible for paying Afghanistan's 120,000 police officers, was vulnerable to graft.
MEC said the current payroll system gave little assurance that LOTFA money was only being used for legitimate purposes, with more than 20 percent of police still being paid in cash, and warned UNDP needed to tighten its oversight procedures.
Wired, June 20:
"Top General Accused of Blocking Corruption Probe to Help Obama"
From a six-page letter written on June 15 by Rep. Jason Chaffetz of the House Government Oversight Committee to SecDef Leon Panneta:
Since 2008, the United States has provided over $180 million to fund medical facilities in Afghanistan.
A significant portion of this has gone to the Dawood National Military Hospital (NMH).
Over the summer of 2010, allegations began to surface regarding widespread theft mismanagement at NMH. According to witness accounts, Afghans stole fuel needed to run the hospital's generators and sold pharmaceuticals on the black market. ... Afghan doctors and nurses would rarely show up for work after having been trained at US taxpayer expense.
The letter goes on to describe a high-level US military meeting in late-October 2010 about what to do regarding NMH corruption. As one participant said, it was a "no-brainer" to call in the IG of the DoD ASAP.
When Lt. Gen. William Caldwell got wind of this plan -- Caldwell being until 2011 the top US officer in charge of training Afghan forces -- he became "emotional," as the Chaffetz letter put it, quoting a witness, and worried aloud over his relationship with President Obama. Caldwell said: "How could we think to invite the DoD IG during an election cycle?"
Probably worst of all is a highly alarming, if barely covered story from RAWA News, June 11, concerning a referral by the Afghan government of three Afghan media organizations to the Afghan Attorney General for reporting on corruption in Afghan parliament.
"Afghan media under political and economic pressure"
...Pajhwok Afghan News, and some other media outlets have been referred to the Attorney General's Office by the Ministry of Information and Culture for reporting on an alleged bribery scandal involving a member of Parliament. The action was taken by the ministry's Media Monitoring Commission, and could lead to criminal charges. ...
The May 24 story that angered the ministry revolved around unnamed government officials claiming that Iran paid large bribes to Wolesi Jirga member Hazrat Ali, encouraging him to organize parliamentary opposition to approval of the strategic cooperation agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.
A few days later, this report ran in the Guardian, June 14:
"Afghanistan suspends political party sparking fears over freedom of speech/ Solidarity Party's ban comes after it accused various Afghan leaders of war crimes and as western troops prepare to withdraw"
Bonus: Repression is as much a part of Uncle Sucker's Afghanistan as corruption. And, with the Afghan government now openly punishing media and politicians who cross the powers that be, it is likely that things will get worse.
We already know this, but, like a reverse junkie, we cling to the belief that one, two, three more fixes ($$$) will set everything to rights. With our financial arteries bleeding into the Afghan dust, we are well aware that nothing will help. Otherwise, for example, why would it be NATO policy to ignore corruption at the upper echelons of government and pursue it only at the lower levels? Because that upper-echelon corruption is never going away and we know it. Afghanistan will always be a failed state, at least according to Western lights, and we know that, too.
So, who wants to bet Uncle Sucker won't fork over four more billions of US taxpayer dollars to Afghanistan next month, just as Karzai expects?
No takers. I knew it.