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Friday
Sep132013

U.S. State Department gets an ‘F’ for Afghan compliance

U.S. Army Pfc. Jordan Adams provides security from a hilltop in Bagram in Afghanistan's Parwan province, Sept. 7, 2013. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Alexander NaylorDespite spending $96 billion in reconstruction aid in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion 12 years ago, the U.S. State Department still isn't measuring anti-corruption efforts there.

The special inspector general for reconstruction in Afghanistan said ‘U.S. anti-corruption activities in Afghanistan are not guided by a comprehensive U.S. strategy or related guidance that defines clear goals and objectives for U.S efforts to strengthen the Afghan government’s capability to combat corruption and increase accountability.’

Afghanistan tied with North Korea and Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world on the current Corruption Perceptions Index.

The special inspector general first made recommendations three years ago for better accountability of U.S. aid money pouring into Afghanistan.

After release of Wednesday's report, the State Department said it accepted the recommendations but hasn't made the changes.

A think-tank report three years ago by influential military analyst Anthony H. Cordesman found that U.S practices allowed huge amounts of money to flow into Afghanistan with little control and weak oversight.

Cordesman recommended that the U.S ‘make the public prosecution, fining, or debarment of U.S. contractors a high priority. Afghans (and U.S. contractors) need to see public and high profile cases where U.S. contractors are held accountable.’

Last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told CBS's 60 Minutes that corruption in his government had hit a level ‘not ever before seen in Afghanistan.’

He said in the 1980s when the Soviets were running the country the government was ‘not even 5 percent as corrupt.’

A dispatch in Foreign Affairs in 2009 said the rampant corruption had tilted public support away from the Western coalition and Karzai's government and toward the Taliban.

‘In 33 of the country's 34 provinces,’ Kim Barker wrote from Kabul, ‘the Taliban has set up its own anti-corruption committees, which allow local Afghans to complain about any injustice, including those inflicted by the Taliban. . . . The Taliban also runs its own courts, which are known for quick justice without the need to pay bribes.’

The U.S. and its Western partners invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks. It plans to continue spending billions of dollars in aid there after combat troops are withdrawn by the end of 2014.

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Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.