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“The United States will not meet its goals in Afghanistan without a major increase in planned spending on development and civilian reconstruction next year, the U.S. ambassador in Kabul has told the State Department,” the Washington Post reported today:
In a cable sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry said an additional $2.5 billion in nonmilitary spending will be needed for 2010, about 60 percent more than the amount President Obama has requested from Congress. The increase is needed “if we are to show progress in the next 14 months,” Eikenberry wrote in the cable, according to sources who have seen it.
Is this good news for Afghanistan? Probably not, but it’s certainly good news for the legions of American companies and consultants who are the primary beneficiaries of U.S. aid to Afghanistan. I have a story about this in the upcoming September issue of the magazine. As the story notes, much of the $7.9 billion in development aid allocated to Afghanistan in the past seven years never made it there because about half of that money ends up being spent on American companies.
In April, the inspector general for the United States Agency for International Development reported that dozens of internal investigations had found poor “contractor performance,” “inadequate contract oversight,” as well as outright fraud and conspiracy, resulting in seven arrests, eight indictments, and three convictions so far.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Estimated acres of forest Henry David Thoreau burned down in 1844 trying to cook fish he had caught for dinner:
The bombardier beetle, which can fire liquid at its enemies from its rear end at up to 300 squirts per second, was being scrutinized in the hope of building a better airplane engine.
London Fire Brigade investigators blamed a building fire in South London on a bird that carried a lit cigarette to its rooftop nest. “Smokers,” said neighborhood baker Richard Scroggs. “What can you say?”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”