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US government success touted as failure in Afghanistan

Some amazing good news was wrapped up in what appeared to be some shocking bad news today.

Politico, AP, ABC, and others are reporting that a jaw dropping $360m of US govt money was lost to insurgents in Afghanistan through graft, theft, and intimidation.

Only deeper in the article is it noted that the seemingly stunning sum is only 1.1% of total spending. And deeper still, a senior U.S. military official in Kabul is quoted as saying “Only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups”.

So, in fact, the story is the US government is involved in an expensive land war in the most politically complex and corrupt country in Asia, and manages to lose only “a small percentage” of 1.1% of its money to the insurgents.

That, I would argue, is a remarkable success.  In fact, I suspect a larger percentage of USG money is lost to domestic graft and criminal activity stateside.

And if you’ll forgive me for being self serving for a moment, this success is due, in a small part, to the work of the PDT staff in Afghanistan who have built a database of over 7000 legit, registered, and tax paying SMEs through our Peace Dividend Marketplace project. Our team works closely with the US government and other donors to help them source their goods and services with honest and capable Afghan entrepreneurs.

I’d argue that the US government should be given credit here for protecting its money in difficult and often impossible circumstances. What’s more, their “Afghan First” policy of buying local has created tens of thousands of jobs and generated hundreds of millions in tax revenues.  Far more good has been done than the small amount of damage trumped up and trumpeted by this article.


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  1. Jymn says:

    That’s one way to look at it. Then you think $360M is “only 1.1% of total spending”. Then think about the 98.9% spent on this war that can’t be won. That’s the real story. The waste and loss of life is beyond comprehension. Nobody comes out of this looking good. Nobody except the soldiers who have been placed in this horrible situation.

  2. kevin says:

    I agree with Jymn’s comment 100%. It costs about TWO BILLION dollars a week to operate in Afghanistan at the present time. This figure comes from the US Government. This is wasted money because this is conflict can NEVER be won from a military standpoint. Untll our current administartion and pentagon leaders admit to this we will be in this state of “never ending war”. As a vietnam era veteran I look at this Afghanistan mess with great frustration because I know more of our brave military personel and National treasury will be squandered. Who was that Mexican philosopher who said: “Those who are ignorant of history are destined to repeat it”.

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