Monday, April 29, 2013

CIA and corruption in Afghanistan

Matthew Rosenberg refers to the sources of this story mainly to , according to "current and former advisers" of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, With Bags of Cash, C.I.A. Seeks Influence in Afghanistan New York Times 04/28/2013. But he also refers to "some American officials" as a source. It's not clear from the article whose oxen are being gored and who's doing the goring. Rosenberg reports:

All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

"We called it 'ghost money,'" said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzai's deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. “It came in secret, and it left in secret."

The C.I.A., which declined to comment for this article, has long been known to support some relatives and close aides of Mr. Karzai. But the new accounts of off-the-books cash delivered directly to his office show payments on a vaster scale, and with a far greater impact on everyday governing.

Moreover, there is little evidence that the payments bought the influence the C.I.A. sought. Instead, some American officials said, the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.

"The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan," one American official said, "was the United States."
Massive corruption also marked US interventions in Vietnam and Iraq. It's kind of standard operating procedure for the national security establishment in such wars. In Afghanistan, it's one of the downsides of the supposedly quick and brilliant victory against the Taliban government in 2001. It surely wouldn't have happened as quickly without the corruption. But here we are in 2013 and still at war in Afghanistan and lasting stability there apparently not yet on the horizon. Promoting corruption may grease a lot of wheels quickly. But it creates lasting problems.

Jim White has some informed comments on the story in CIA Bags O’ Cash Total Tens of Millions of Dollars, But Over $4.5 Billion Left Afghanistan in 2011 Emptywheel 04/29/2013.


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