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Dawn.com, May 9, 2014

US alliance with warlords increased corruption in Afghanistan: report

The report argued that early US alliances with Afghan warlords helped solidify a corrupt leadership style and a climate of impunity for those involved

By Anwar Iqbal

WASHINGTON: A deeply entrenched culture of corruption in Afghanistan not only defied America’s efforts to curb it but grew substantially worse because of international intervention, says a US military report.

Prepared for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the report acknowledges that US military forces were unprepared to deal with a country where private deal-making dominates public policymaking.

The Centre for Public Integrity, a Washington think-tank which released the report, described it as a “harsh judgment about the legacy of the 12-year US-led intervention in Afghanistan.”

The report argued that early US alliances with Afghan warlords helped solidify a corrupt leadership style and a climate of impunity for those involved.

The report argued that early US alliances with Afghan warlords helped solidify a corrupt leadership style and a climate of impunity for those involved.
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The report quoted a former US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Allen, as telling President Obama that corruption — not an incompetent military, not an inadequate police force, and not the Taliban’s sanctuary in Pakistan — currently remained “the existential, strategic threat to Afghanistan”.
Dawn.com, May 9. 2014

Washington made the problem worse by inundating Afghanistan with more cash than it could absorb in legitimate channels to undertake needed reforms.

American military officers and civilian aid workers alike were unprepared to manage Afghan contractors, resulting in what the report said was “the expenditure of millions of dollars with almost no oversight or alignment with other … (US government) efforts.”

The report, written by a division of the Joint Staff assigned to draw lessons for the future, was based on dozens of interviews with government officials and experts and its judgments were approved by top commanders.

The report quoted a former US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Allen, as telling President Obama that corruption — not an incompetent military, not an inadequate police force, and not the Taliban’s sanctuary in Pakistan — currently remained “the existential, strategic threat to Afghanistan”.

Drawing lessons from Afghanistan, the report warned that a major military incursion could be disastrously undermined by an overriding, non-military factor, namely an illicit national economy. And it acknowledged that the US military itself bore much blame for Afghanistan’s enduring mess, due to its poor understanding of Afghan traditions, mismanagement of key reform efforts, and weak oversight of its local partners.

The report noted that “some citizens viewed the Taliban and its shadowy judicial processes as less prone to the bribery, selective prosecution, and extortion that permeated official government actions”.

The report also noted that international and US forces headquarters were mostly clueless about how to respond, as they have never dealt with such high-level corruption before.

It alleged that as US officials took a more aggressive stance against corruption, President Hamid Karzai became less and less “receptive”. His government undertook “illusory” reform and slow-rolled Western proposals.

Cash payments by US intelligence agencies to Mr Karzai’s office, “gave substance to charges of American hypocrisy,” the Joint Staff report said. And as security conditions worsened, military contracts with local transport firms began to look increasingly like a US-fuelled protection racket, it added.

In the end, Western forces faced with preserving security or tamping corruption repeatedly chose the former, even though many security victories were short-lived.

An effort by US Central Command to stop relying on Kam Air, a privately held airline based in Kabul, due to its alleged involvement in opium smuggling was quickly reversed. Western forces helped push out a police chief in Helmand province who was linked to narcotics and killings, then welcomed him back when “the security situation deteriorated”.

Washington repeatedly refused to condition its aid on strict adherence to anti-corruption targets and deadlines, opting instead to disburse funds as quickly as it could.

Category: Warlords, Corruption - Views: 4928