Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Nation Building Stupidity in Afghanistan

In a piece at New Majority, Michael Weiss has a case study on how difficult it is to get things done in Afghanistan. AN AFGHAN RECONSTRUCTION HORROR STORY, PART 1

By 2002, the U.N. resolution was lifted, but the state of industrial disrepair endured, and the hajj was being conducted in such a disorganized and dangerous manner that the new Karzai administration set itself an ambitious goal: By December 2005, all pious Afghans should be able to make an easy pilgrimage. This was the task Atash stood to inherit, so he was understandably reluctant to accept, citing also his lack of experience in the aviation industry. But Qasimi persisted and eventually his fellow expatriate felt morally obliged to accept the corporate presidency, which he describes as a “demotion” given his thirty-plus years as a successful businessman in Washington, D.C., and a slew of remunerative private sector offers. His government salary was set at $100 per month, paltry even by Third World standards, and the post required him to live in Kabul with U.S. and NATO forces on the ground and warlords and resurgent Taliban fighters still an ever-present threat to his safety. Atash also agreed, out of apparent magnanimity, to do without a personal security detail and to live in relatively spartan conditions at a time when most other administration officials and adjuncts enjoyed lavish accommodations.

But there was an additional reason for Atash’s reluctance: He knew the weak track record Karzai’s government had in weeding out corruption within its own ranks; corruption, Atash explains, was that government’s modus operandi, a fact that had become clear to anyone paying attention during even the early phases of reconstruction. “There is no culture of criticism of authority in Afghanistan,” Atash told me, “and anyone working in the government can afford to accept zero accountability for his actions.” The best tenure as a minister or high-level functionary was one distinguished by non-accomplishment, and a genuine reformer was seen as engaged in a hazardous occupation. “I killed my political ambitions by accepting this job,” Atash said. Nevertheless, his conscience prompted him to accept Qasimi’s offer, which he did in May 2005.

Corruption killed this airline project. It's impossible to get anything done.

To me, that is not the outrage. No doubt our western money contributed to this airline whose main goal is to transport Muslim pilgrims to Mecca. Crazy isn't it? So they can plonk down into Saudi Arabia and hear denunciations of infidels? Do you think the occupation of Afghanistan by the US and NATO is popular amongst the Islamic preachers? Do you think Death to America, or The Great Satan, ever comes up? Fighting the Taliban, radical extremists and yet, funding Afghans to attend the hajj? Smaaaaaart.

We need to get out of that hellhole and stop giving them money.

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