The United States and its allies have announced creation of a new task force to end corruption involving contractors and others in the maintenance and security of Afghanistan. For the purposes of capital improvement, NATO has supplied billions of dollars, while coalition forces have awarded about 14 billion dollars in contracts. It is suggested that these amounts of capital investment have led to a culture of corruption in Afghanistan. Until the new developments in the fight against corruption, it was said that the U.S. and the West turned their backs — ignoring the warning signs of wrongful enrichment. This was true in part because many of the corrupt were allies with the West in opposition to the Taliban.
Now we see the development of Task Force 2010, the military’s intelligence network, aimed at the elimination of Afghan corruption from the outlying towns and periphery to top of the Afghan Government. Indeed, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency too, is now involved in the elimination of corruption, the installation of transparency, and accountability. Documents are being seized; captured fighters are being interrogated, firstly about battle plans, and suicide missions, but also about financial corruption. In Afghanistan there are few high tech devices to scrutinize: hard drives and cell phone records, as there were in Iraq.
Perversion of authority is described as a plague on the effort to build a competent government and to win the support of the Afghan people. NATO officials moved to the creation of the anti-corruption task force last October, and already a number of provincial officials have been brought to trial. In one such instance the task force, headed by Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the alliance’s director of military intelligence in Afghanistan, placed charges against a border police commander accused of having ghost personnel on his payroll; this commander also was charged with stealing money meant for widows of police officers killed in action.
The elimination of corruption is brought about in part by the hope of the Obama administration to restore credibility to the government of President Hamid Karzai. Indeed President Karzai and some of his family members have been linked to the drug trade and to corrupt enrichment. American President Obama, and the campaign headed by General Stanley McChrystal intend to win over the people of Afghanistan and to win support for the government in Kabul. The people of Afghanistan should not, it is said, shadow Taliban governments that exist in many provinces. To that end, anti-corruption efforts are every bit as important as killing or capturing militants, if not more so, according to senior officers involved in the effort.
Corruption in the American supported government is often sited as one of many causes for a turning by some to the Taliban, as an alternative government force. I pointed out in a recent article that in fact a handful of nations, The United Arab Emirates for one, consider the Taliban to be the rightful government of Afghanistan. The ending of corruption may have as much priority as the war with the insurgents on the battlefield.
Corruption being investigated will include in part the paying off by contractors of the Taliban, in the hope of avoiding attack even as these contractors labor to improve that nation. Officers of the newly created task force will examine all contracts, the range to include the building of schools and health care facilities, and the delivery of food and fuel in cities and remote villages. The Shell Companies were specifically named, in a reference to the use by large corporations of sub-contractors; a usage which allows the unmonitored shifting of cash, which vanishes, turning up at a later time in foreign bank accounts.