Printer-friendly versionSend to friendPDF version

The World Outside

A weekly column exploring issues relating to the environment, the future of our planet and that of mankind.

Afghanistan Is A Lost Cause

— Filed under: Politics & Government, Opinion
President Barack Obama with Afghanistan Presid...

Image via Wikipedia

Today in the News US President Obama said progress was sufficient to permit a "responsible reduction" of US forces to begin in July.

I'd like to ask what progress? Afghanistan still is by far the worlds largest producer of opium and has the 2nd most corrupt government in the world. Transparency International rates only one country, Somalia, as worse.

The cornerstone of the coalition strategy in Afghanistan calls for the Afghan government to eventually take over security and to provide stronger government institutions and services. How can this happen though in a country where the police set up checkpoints and stop cars demanding payment for permission to pass. In 2009, Afghan citizens had to pay approximately US$ 2.5 billion in bribes, which is equivalent to 23 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

What about all that foreign aid sent to help out the Afghan people and build up their infrastructure? The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. authorities believe top Afghan officials and their associates have openly shipped more than $3 billion in cash over the past three years to bank accounts abroad. This practice has even been sanctioned by President Hamid Karzai's administration . How can a government as corrupt as this ever be ready to take over from the coalition?

This leaves the United States in an impossible position. To win the war in Afghanistan, the United States must turn a nation that stands as a model of the worst kinds of government corruption into one that cares for its people, now the most neglected in the world. This is an impossible goal and President Obama did not even mention the countrywide graft problem in his latest assessment on Afghanistan.

Winston Smith's picture

Better off or worse off?

Afghanistan is corrupt... what's the solution? I don't think the world should abandon the country to its own devices until we've at least put them in a situation to succeed. Is Afghanistan better or worse off than it was in 2001? If it's worse, then we should at least bring it back to pre-invasion levels before we pull out.

Ethan's picture


The main problem as I see it is that the coalition does not seem to want to address the corruption. If they do not address the corruption problem and continue to prop up the current government it is surely a lost cause as Afghan government will never be ready to take over the security for their country.

It is still better off than when the Taliban were in charge, almost anything would be better than that. However with the current coalition strategy though there is no end in sight. If nothing can be done to dramatically change the situation with the government there I really don't see the point in continuing. In the end things will go exactly as they did after the Soviets pulled out.

Bernard's picture


"The Wall Street Journal is reporting that U.S. authorities believe top Afghan officials and their officials have openly shipped more than $3 billion in cash over the past three years to bank accounts abroad."

Do you have a link to this rather startling revelation?

Ethan's picture

Wall Street Journal

Here is the link to the Wall Street Journal article, I should have linked it in the article

I would not find it surprising or startling considering all the foreign aid that has gone into Afghanistan yet it still has the world's highest infant mortality rate and numerous other problems that their government fails to address. It is a country run by criminals yet we foolishly think we can get them to somehow embrace western ideals. Read some of the cables released by Wikileaks for more startling revelations that they would like to keep out of the public eye.