• More State Department Fun in Afghanistan

    July 24, 2012 // 4 Comments »




    The Washington Post’s Al Kamen, reviewing Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s new book Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistanon the failure of reconstruction (and everything else) in Afghanistan, pulls out some State Department-specific highlights:

    Two-thirds of the supposed nation-building civilians are camped out in Kabul and not out in the field;

    Eleven Bolivian engineers were brought in to show how a U.S.-backed program there to build cobblestone roads could be repeated in Afghanistan. A short demonstration stretch was built. But the Afghans objected. They wanted gravel and asphalt. The cobblestones, they claimed, hurt their camels’ hooves.

    Huge amounts of money were dumped into one district to employ lots of day laborers at good wages. Then the schools “suddenly closed.” The “teachers had become day laborers because the pay was better.”

    There was the State Department official who had worked anti-narcotics in Bogota. He brought in two Colombian women for a 12-day visit to talk about their country’s reintegration of FARC rebels. “But they spoke no English,” Chandrasekaran writes, “and no Marine battalion wanted to host them.” So they were dispatched to meet with Afghan officials. A senior official listened to them talk through an interpreter for an hour. “’Our problems are very different,’ he said as he got up to leave. ’But I love to hear the sound of Spanish.’”


    Kamen writes that in predictable State Department style, these disclosures have sparked a scramble in the Kabul embassy compound to compile “success stories” to counter the book’s analysis.

    The same thing happened in Iraq. If you want to read now the old claims of success in Iraq, they are still, without apparent irony, online on the Baghdad Embassy web site.

    (Pictured is then-ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, who oversaw the State Department reconstruction follies. Crocker had previously overseen State Department reconstruction in Iraq as ambassador there. He was also recycled to be ambassador in Pakistan, where things are also going swimmingly in anticipation of someone else’s disclosure book-to-come.)

    If the definition of mental illness is doing the same thing repeatedly hoping for different results, the Department of State is clearly and simply insane as an organization.



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    Posted in Afghanistan, Embassy/State