Afghanistan is broke, starving and lawless, a report from a government watchdog concludes.
As violence continues to rise, up nearly 20 percent in the three-month period that ended in January, “most” Afghans risk starvation and the nation’s police have proven “unwilling” to make even arrests on the nation’s more than 6,000 felony warrants.
“Individuals awaiting trial and convicted felons remain free,” the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan reconstruction, published last week, concluded.
What’s happening in Afghanistan resonates in Colorado Springs, which has sent tens of thousands of troops to fight there in the long war and still has a key contingent from Fort Carson’s 4th Infantry Division deployed there.
The Trump administration is working to strike a peace deal with the Taliban, including a reported offer to pull U.S. troops out under an agreement that Afghanistan would not house terrorist groups.
After more than 17 years of American work to rebuild the nation and refire its economy, the government in Kabul is relying on foreign assistance to cover 70 percent of its bills. The nation will run a deficit for more than half of its government spending through the year 2023, the agency found.
The inspector general has been unpopular with the Pentagon and the White House for years. The Trump administration moved to classify much of the data the agency relies on for reports, which have been consistently gloomy.
The agency was founded to make sure the $133 billion in foreign aid that the U.S. has plowed into Afghanistan is spent properly. In its most recent report, it’s clear that U.S. programs to help the Afghan people have met with mixed results.
One highlighted program, a $775 million project to restore power generation at a dam outside Kandahar, demonstrates the problem. After years of work, the dam works fine, spitting out more than 50 megawatts of electricity. But locals remain in the dark, because the power lines to deliver the dam’s bounty to their homes haven’t been fixed.
Another problem: A great deal of the cash America has invested in Afghanistan has lined the pockets of government officials instead of helping rebuild the nation that has seen four decades of warfare. And, the agency found, corruption remains something the leaders of Afghanistan refuse to tackle.
“While the Afghan government has made some progress, it has not demonstrated it is serious about combating corruption,” the agency said.
One of the most telling facts revealed abut Afghanistan centers on that nation’s growing Air Force. The force used an armed version of a single-engine civilian plane to provide support to troops on the ground.
Pilots from the program were being trained in the United States. But of the Afghan pilots trained here, more than 40 percent went absent without leave, disappearing into the U.S. in search of a better life.
“The remaining students have been pulled back to complete their training in Afghanistan,” the agency said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx