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Corruption in Afghanistan Now Being Addressed

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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.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • It’s about time this happens over there. New question: when are they going to burn thos epoppy fields down to the ground?

  • John Lake

    Presently the U.S. Troops have instructions not to interfere with the opium trade. The reason given is that the retalliation would be so excessive as to be counter-productive.

  • John Wilson

    All wars, all military operations, are rife with corruption. Smedley Butler said it all: “War Is A Racket”.

  • Don Bowser

    How is it possible for the use of international forces to increase legitimacy of a Government when instead of using and improving the Afghan government instrument they do things on their own?

  • John Lake

    Fareed Zakaria this (Sat, June 20) morning said pretty much what this article has said; that corruption on the part of President Hamid Karzai, and his family members, including his brother, the chief of the Kandahar Provincial Council, have contributed to the lack of support by some Afghans for what America, and NATO consider to be the authentic government.
    “Both President Karzai and Ahmed Wali Karzai, now the chief of the Kandahar Provincial Council, the governing body for the region that includes Afghanistan’s second largest city, dismiss the allegations as politically motivated attacks by longtime foes.
    “I am not a drug dealer, I never was and I never will be,” the president’s (Karzai) brother said in a recent phone interview. “I am a victim of vicious politics.”

  • The elimination of corruption in Afghanistan would be great. Then, maybe a reformed Afghanistan could return the favor and help the United States do the same.


  • Deano

    High-minded as this approach is, I’m not sure it will be successful or frankly doable.

    Afghanistan is an intensely tribal and clannish cultural mileau. Loyalties are local, familial and clan-oriented. That’s where most of the governers and political power-mongers have their bases – think of them as Pathan Sopranos, and you probably won’t be far off. Corruption and the feudal approach is an integral part of the landscape and the political structure, the US and NATO declaring it unacceptable will only impact if the money tap is turned off.

    However turning off the tap means pushing a number of “client” power brokers toward either the opium trade, the Taliban or some other alternative, you need to keep options open or you may root out corruption at the cost of not being able to support the longer term development of stability.

    Waving both carrots and sticks is probably the only effective approach – the carrot being continued access to funding and US support, the stick being support given instead to your rivals and coercive hits on your power base (i.e. not turning a blind eye to opuim production, development contracts etc.). The key is to develop a balance that allows the West to pursue development, build stability and limit the Taliban’s efficacy as an alternative to power, while slowly building an institutional structure and limiting or curtailing as much of the corruption as possible.

    A corruption-free Afghanistan is an unlikely event and making a corruption-free government your focus will fail because it doesn’t support the localized existing olitical structure, aborrent as it may be.

    The country has been a shit-heap for most of its history. You won’t effectively be able to change that in less than a generation.

  • james w

    I know why the Taliban should run the place. The whole goverment of afganistan from Karsai down to his cronys now have billions of dollars in Swiss accounts made possible by the U.S. and allies. I say get out of Afganistan. Not one American life is worth that corrupt Goverment.

  • John Lake

    I can’t confirm the Swiss accounts, but I do know that our government, under the whim and caprice of Sect. Clinton thinks money is the answer.