• Afghan PRT Seen as Gigantic, Camouflage-Swathed ATM

    June 23, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    There is so much madness involved in the reconstruction business that there is room for as many metaphors to describe it as we collectively can gather. In We Meant Well, the author describes himself and his PRT Team as “fat walleted aliens descending from armored spaceships” to hand out cash.

    An Army Captain doing reconstruction work in Iraq wrote a book, Father of Money: Buying Peace in Baghdad. The title refers to the author himself, who was called “Father Money” in Arabic for all the cash he gave away.

    Our State Department brother in PRT land, Afghan edition, coined (get it?) a new description, saying his “PRT is seen as a gigantic, camouflage-swathed ATM” handing out US tax dollars. His most recent story of the bureaucratic insanity of trying to get anything done in Afghanistan ends on a double-down Debbie Downer:

    I started to launch into my sustainability shpiel, about how we can’t just give away fuel if there’s no plan in place for the Afghan government to take over and all of that. “It’s not sustainable,” I said. But I found that I no longer had the will to fight and couldn’t bring myself to continue. We’ve been through this, a thousand times with a thousand different people. It just seemed so hopeless.

    The whole story, as well as the whole blog, is well worth reading for anyone who still thinks reconstruction in Afghanistan (Iraq, Yemen Libya, or anywhere outside of Detroit or Kansas City) is worth spending money on.

    For you diplomat wanna-be readers, don’t write things on your blog like “It just seemed so hopeless.” Instead, follow the pros. The Washington Post reported from Afghanistan that:

    “American diplomats expressed guarded hopes about the transition, saying they had come to respect many of the Afghans they had trained and worked with.

    However, they also acknowledged that there had been disappointments and frustrations, including political interference, corruption and what one official called a ‘narrow skill layer’ of trainable people in this impoverished post-war nation. The plan is to shift from a wartime ‘stabilization’ assistance program to what several called a ‘normal’ program of development aid.

    Still, the uncertain security situation could have a major impact on where, whether and how fast the transition can be carried out.”

    Now that sounds better, right?

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