An incoherent technique introduced the 20-year US mission to Afghanistan to failure, says Watchdog, because the US withdraws
An incoherent strategy for the reconstruction of Afghanistan, rich in resources but without coherent leadership and a clearly defined mission, has frustrated 20 years of U.S. reconstruction efforts, with American taxpayers investing $ 145 billion in projects that often Timelines were unsustainable, corrupt and unrealistic.
The conclusions of the latest report by the Inspector General for Reconstruction in Afghanistan are devastatingly critical of the US mission in Afghanistan as the Biden administration struggles to evacuate Americans and Afghans to the exits from Kabul airport at a chaotic rush.
The report, entitled What We Need to Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction, indicates how much work remains. “After 13 years of oversight, the cumulative list of systemic challenges that SIGAR and other regulators have identified is mind-boggling,” it said.
The report, the 11th Lessons Learned published by SIGAR, outlines how the US has poured resources and lives into an impossible and ill-defined mission. While identifying bright spots like lower child mortality rates, an increase in GDP per capita, and increased literacy rates, the report is a litany of incompetence, transplant, obfuscation, and wishful thinking.
It points to the role of U.S. officials who misunderstood, and sometimes obfuscated and ignored, conditions on the ground when they did not fit into a progress story.
“As security deteriorated and the demands on donors increased, so did the pressure to demonstrate progress,” said SIGAR. “US officials, mistakenly assuming that a decision in Washington could change the calculus of complex Afghan institutions, power brokers, and communities challenged by the Taliban, have drawn up explicit timetables.”
“Instead of reforming and improving, Afghan institutions and power brokers have found ways to use the funds for their own ends, which has only exacerbated the problems these programs were supposed to address,” SIGAR said. “When US officials finally saw this dynamic, they simply found new ways to ignore the conditions on the ground.”
US officials in charge of reconstruction often failed to understand Afghanistan and empowered the wrong people, which fueled corruption, the report said.
US officials “often empowered power brokers who exploited the population or diverted US aid from its intended recipients in order to enrich and empower themselves and their allies,” SIGAR said. “A lack of knowledge at the local level meant that conflict-reduction projects often exacerbated them and even unintentionally financed insurgents.”
And the US and its local allies have never made the country safe enough to really allow its reconstruction effort.
“The absence of violence was critical to everything US officials tried in Afghanistan – but US efforts to rebuild the country took place while it was being torn apart,” SIGAR said.
This story is broken and is being updated