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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
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”