• Obama Jobs Program: For Afghanistan

    September 16, 2011 // Comments Off on Obama Jobs Program: For Afghanistan

    One of every six Americans is legally poor. One on six Americans now lives in poverty. About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year. Some 50 million Americans lack health insurance, and of course no one can find work. Good news: Obama has a job plan, at least for Afghanistan.

    It cost nearly $2 billion over the last two years to send hundreds of US civilians to Afghanistan to help with development projects, the economy and training Afghan government officials. Sending just one employee to Afghanistan for one year, excluding infrastructure and security needed to support that person, costs the government between $410,000 and $570,000, according to the joint report by the offices of the State Department inspector general and the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. So woo hoo, some people have jobs!

    Click on the image to the right to see a cost breakdown for maintaining one fat, lazy ass contractor in Afghanistan.

    And what do those high-paid contractors do in Afghanistan? They spend money helping Afghans do things like rebuild schools and roads, start businesses and access health care. How much money is being spent? No one really knows, but a nice ballpark figure, with enactment of the sixth FY2011 Continuing Resolution through March 18, 2011, (H.J.Res. 48/P.L. 112-6) Congress has approved a total of $1.283 trillion for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the three operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Afghanistan and other counter terror operations; Operation Noble Eagle (ONE), providing enhanced security at military bases; and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

    So don’t worry if you live in Cleveland, or Detroit, or New Orleans, and have no job, no health care and maybe no food. Obama has a plan for you– move to Iraq or Afghanistan, where US money drips from the sky into your hands.

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    Posted in Democracy, Iraq

    Afghan PRT Seen as Gigantic, Camouflage-Swathed ATM

    June 23, 2011 // Comments Off on Afghan PRT Seen as Gigantic, Camouflage-Swathed ATM

    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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    Posted in Democracy, Iraq

    “If there is any nation that needs nation-building right now, it is the United States.”

    June 9, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Senator Jim Webb of Virginia had me at “hello” when he faced down George Bush a few years ago. The Senator hit it square on the head again yesterday when speaking about the money pit we are feeding in Afghanistan. Webb said:

    “You can pretty well fight international terrorism without remaking an entire societal structure. The real question is: what is the ultimate objective with all of these ground forces and all of these infrastructure programs in terms of the long-term advantage?”

    “If there is any nation in the world that really needs nation-building right now, it is the United States. When we are putting hundreds of billions of dollars into infrastructure in another country, it should only be done if we can articulate a vital national interest because we quite frankly need to be doing a lot more of that here.”

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Iraq