Just when you thought that the story of Afghanistan couldn’t possibly reach more absurd levels…
…here comes Douglas A. Wissing, author of the just-published Funding the Enemy: How U.S. Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban to describe how the paternalistic nation building effort in a region that Americans don’t even pretend to understand is not only unsurprisingly bleak, but that the way the entire operation has been structured, coupled with the corruption of the installed government and lack of oversight by private US companies operating in the country, has led to money that is entering the country earmarked for specific projects is ending up in the hands of the very people that the US military is fighting, aka the Taliban.
As Wissing describes in an interview with Time:
The Taliban is getting so much money from U.S. taxpayers because there is a toxic, opportunistic system that developed in Afghanistan in the years after the U.S. invasion. The system connects distracted American careerists, private U.S. corporations, corrupt Afghan kleptocrats—and the Taliban. U.S. soldiers compare it to the Mafia: everyone’s in on the take. The soldiers tell me, “We are funding our own enemy.”
Because of the corrupt Afghan government leadership, this particular counterinsurgency is particularly rife with skims and scams of U.S. logistics and development contracts, which ultimately help finance the Taliban—what the military calls “threat funding.”
The sad irony. A corrupt government handpicked by the US government is apparently so weak and illegitimate that it results in prolonging and continuing the war…the war that started over 10 years ago in case anyone forgets.
Of course, one must take this account with a grain of salt, since it comes from a reporter that was embedded with the military, and, to be sure, the military establishment certainly wants to grease the skids for what looks like it might be an unceremonious and unsuccessful withdrawal, as more and more people are beginning to demand. If they can pass off the culpability in not achieving the goals that were set out long long ago, and revised many times since, then I’m sure they will be more than happy to. Never mind that the entire effort was doomed from the start given its lack of support and leadership from local actors.
But, one thing which seems indisputable, regardless of your skepticism of the military accounts:
One sardonic US intelligence officer told me, “It’s the perfect war. Everyone is making money.”