Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban

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How to Build a Quagmire

Interesting article providing information from a new book Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban

We haven’t aided the Afghan economy; we are the economy. Our very presence there has disfigured normal commerce and created perverse incentives. As Wissing notes, senior Afghan officials earn $150 a month while a nongovernmental organization driver earns $1,000. How long before those officials supplement their incomes with gifts (bakhsheesh) or become drivers? The full absurdity of the arrangement was revealed in miniature when Afghan farmers refused to clear their own canals unless we paid them.

Profiteering and corruption are common during wartime, but the situation in Afghanistan is appalling even by those standards. Outrageously, the Taliban itself has been a major beneficiary of our boodle. The shadow government was the only enemy in sight after al- Qaida evacuated in December 2001. A U.S. military office noted that 10 to 20 percent of funds from all international contracts in Afghanistan wound up with the Taliban. The Taliban even skims U.S. payments to families of Afghan civilians killed accidentally.

“Each of the projects, you have to pay the Taliban,” a political analyst told Wissing. “If you don’t pay them, you can’t do anything.”

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email: dublinopinionAtgmail.com