Taliban, 'Malign Actors' Skim $360 Million in Afghan Aid

U.S. onslaught of cash and contracts inadvertently funds its enemies
'Thank you, America! Without your money, these bullets would still be on layaway.' (Photo: Reuters)
Aug 15, 2011
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

As part of President Obama’s strategy to enlist local support in establishing a humane quality of life and developing a non heroin-based economy in Afghanistan, the United States government currently fields $31 billion in active contracts awarded to Afghan businesses. With all that cash in play, no one could be expected to track every single penny. Still, a U.S. military estimate that $360 million of those $31 billion have been pocketed by “malign actors”—corrupt powerbrokers, outright crooks and Taliban financiers—is one more reason to hit yourself in the face and wail, “Who under the eyes of God is running this war?”

In truth, $360 million is a single drip of tainted hemoglobin in the river of financial bleeding that is America’s accustomed military spending, but Afghanistan’s insurgents fight with crude weaponry that is as cheap as it is effective. Even a small portion of $360 million can keep the mountains full of helicopter hunters for years to come.

The Associated Press reports:

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., former chairman of the House oversight panel that investigated the wayward payments, said that the U.S. must stop the diversion of taxpayer dollars to the enemy. “When war becomes good business for the insurgents, it is all the more difficult to convince them to lay down their arms,” Tierney said.

The same might be said for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Boeing Company. Just don’t expect any member of Congress to draw a correlation between war as good business and the unending business of war—at least not out loud within earshot of any one of the 843 lobbyists representing 279 defense industry clients in 2011.

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