Monday, February 26, 2007

Bloody Money Into the Sand

Another $200 million in aid going to Afghanistan.

To do what exactly?

Well, we can't say for sure and we won't find out until maybe next year. Even then what we find out will probably be more relevant the money spent between '01 and '06 than to this money. And that's only if the Harperites don't black out the documents for some specious national security reason.

A further question regarding this new money, and it is new money, is that it will be funnelled to the Afghan people through aid agencies. Which aid agencies is the question? If the money is funnelled through US aid agencies there's every likelihood that less than a fifth of it will ever make it's way to where we think it should. From a report to the House of Representatives on February 15, Peter Bergen notes:

"One important caveat on the reconstruction aid—much of that aid should be funnelled through the Afghan government and/or Afghan organizations rather than recycled to U.S. contractors. According to Ann Jones, an American writer who has worked in Afghanistan as an aid worker, unlike countries like Sweden that incur only 4 percent of their aid costs on “technical assistance” that goes back home to Sweden, “eighty six cents of every dollar of American aid is phantom aid” that will line American pockets rather than go directly to Afghans. For their part, Afghan government ministries must be more efficient at spending reconstruction money. Last year these ministries only spent 44 percent of the aid they were given. This year they are likely to spend 60 percent." (Ann Jones is the author of "Kabul in Winter".)

We have no idea what we're doing.

All we really know is the feel good story we tell ourselves composed of snatches of misheard rumours, breathless patriotic publicity posing as news, manipulative self-serving statements from Afghan nationals who are mostly little better than drug running thugs, all of it overlaid with strong doses of partisan ideological preference.

We have nothing demonstrable to present as evidence of progress after 5 1/2 years. That's about a year and a half longer than World War One and about 6 months shorter than World War Two with nothing measurable accomplished.

We need to pause for further thought but we won't. We need to know that something, anything, is changing for the better in the lives of the Afghan people but we won't. We need to have some kind of an indication of yardsticks, measurements, milestones but we won't.
Instead we'll pour more money into the sand.

Soon it will be spring and we'll pour more blood over the money.

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