Friday, January 22, 2010

A Time magazine article from last September that likely flew under the radar or was willfully and blissfully ignored by most Americans and politicians. It pretty much gets at the heart of the insanity of the Afghanistan conflict, America's involvement there and more or less demonstrates that the only benefit of the U.S. actions there are monetary in nature to both the Taliban and America's defense industry. In other words --- a great big clusterfuck with no feasible goals or end in sight.

How Crime Pays for the Taliban
By Aryn Baker / Kunduz Monday, Sep. 07, 2009

To understand why America and its allies are losing the war in Afghanistan, consider the story behind one deadly attack. On July 6, in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz, a powerful improvised explosive device, or IED, detonated under the wheels of a U.S. humvee. Four soldiers died, as did their translator and a bystander. The makeshift bomb was assembled with goods from the local bazaar. The man who placed it was probably paid the going rate of $750, according to government officials, or more if he captured video proof of dead soldiers. And though the local Taliban covered his expenses and fees, the cash very likely came from money donated by the international community to rebuild Afghanistan's roads, bridges, clinics and schools.

Just a week before the explosion, Hajji Lala Jan, a local businessman subcontracted by a local firm working for the German government — aid agency GTZ to build a road in Kunduz, handed some $15,000 in cash to a Taliban middleman to ensure that his project wouldn't be attacked, according to local officials — though Jan himself denies it. The Taliban cash flow has many sources, and it's impossible to say if German taxpayer dollars directly paid for that IED. Andreas Clausing, country director for GTZ, says such payoffs are "impossible. It is forbidden in our contracts, and we have very strict monitoring." Nevertheless, it is likely that a substantial amount of aid money from many countries — including the U.S. — has made its way, directly or indirectly, into the Taliban's coffers. "Here we have internationals and Afghans turning a blind eye to the fact that we are paying off the very Taliban that we claim to be fighting," says an adviser to the Afghan Ministry of Interior. "It becomes a self-sustaining war, a self-licking ice cream."


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