SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
A few months back I attended a panel on Afghanistan sponsored by the the Middle East Policy Council, which is headed by Frank Anderson, a former senior CIA official. The breakfast was off-the-record but the participants generally represented a mainstream point of view and were broadly pessimistic about the situation in the country. They all viewed corruption, security and good governance as serious problems and ones where not a lot of progress was being made.
Given that, I asked, what is the chance that the U.S. can achieve anything resembling “success” in Afghanistan, and what does success even mean? The reply was that there was only one measure, that being if Afghan forces were at some point able to take charge of the country’s own security and policing, which would allow most American troops to withdraw.
Well, gauged by that standard, success in Afghanistan isn’t around the corner. A new article by ProPublica and Newsweek calls the Afghan Police “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”
America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster. More than $322 million worth of invoices for police training were approved even though the funds were poorly accounted for, according to a government audit, and fewer than 12 percent of the country’s police units are capable of operating on their own.
Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the State Department’s top representative in the region, has publicly called the Afghan police “an inadequate organization, riddled with corruption.”
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
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”