Writer and photographer Ann Jones, who served as an aid worker in Afghanistan from 2002 t0 2006, has an article titled, “The Afghan Scam: The Untold Story of Why the U.S. Is Bound to Fail in Afghanistan,” published on 11 January, 2009, by TomDispatch. In that article, related to her book, Kabul in Winter, she lays out the reasons why the U.S. “reconstruction” effort is already a massive failure, one that parallels its military failure. Related to the last point, the introduction to Jones’ article in TomDispatch states that,
more of the same militarily, a further build-up of coalition military forces, another five or 10 or 20 years of foreign “training” programs for Afghan forces still “not ready for the task” — no one asks how Taliban fighters, no less “Afghan,” prove so ready to fight without years of American training — is the only context for future success in “reconstructing” that country [according to the Pentagon].
At a time when the U.S. has less of almost everything, except perhaps less of the doctrinaire militarism and war corporatism that has guided Washington for longer than just the Bush moment, TomDispatch notes that “more” is becoming the new keyword, in ways the U.S. sometimes might not like:
More American (and NATO) troops “surging” in, more Taliban control in the countryside, more insurgent attacks, more sophisticated roadside bombs, more deadly suicide bombings, more dead American and NATO troops, more problems with U.S. supply lines into Afghanistan, more civilian deaths from American and NATO military operations, more U.S. bases being built, more billions of U.S. dollars needed for military operations.
Jones observes the growing and widespread hostility of Afghans toward U.S. intentions, which look little like the goal of fomenting democracy and creating stable civil institutions and strengthening central government, and more like a cover for installing permanent U.S. bases in a bid to occupy Afghanistan forever. More than that, the U.S. has created a scam designed to enrich war profiteers, Jones argues:
…the Bush administration perpetrated a scam. It used the system it set up to dispense reconstruction aid to both the countries it “liberated,” Afghanistan and Iraq, to transfer American taxpayer dollars from the national treasury directly into the pockets of private war profiteers.
In the meantime, after almost eight full years of U.S. occupation, Kabul lacks of any of the public services it used to enjoy under Soviet administration, and Kabul is probably the safest place for U.S. forces.
Having squandered funds through no-bid contracts for war corporatists, resulting in the failure to competently train and equip an Afghan police force, the U.S. and Karzai want to rearm local militias in a plan that promises civil war.
In the meantime, rather than strengthening central government, U.S. aid weakens it. American aid money is channeled to private American contractors, on the grounds that the Afghan government it supports is too ‘corrupt,’ as ironic as that statement is. Moreover, American aid as usual comes with strings attached that are designed to make foreign aid into an indirect subsidy for American industry and agriculture: 70% of U.S. aid to Afghanistan is tied to the purchase of American products, so that food aid, for example, would put Afghan farmers out of business and increase Afghan dependency on foreign food imports. Officials with USAID often become consultants to private contractors who are “preselected” by USAID for its contracts, turning this “international development” agency into an arm of both the State Department and Pentagon, at the service of private war profiteers.
On the whole, what Jones’ article reveals ranges from the depressing to the scandalous. The only hope is that, despite many negative social consequences, the economic crisis mushrooms into something so deep, so severe, and so crippling that the American imperial adventure comes to a crashing standstill even before the Taliban have the chance of finally prevailing.