Politico, AP, ABC, and others are reporting that a jaw dropping $360m of US govt money was lost to insurgents in Afghanistan through graft, theft, and intimidation.
Only deeper in the article is it noted that the seemingly stunning sum is only 1.1% of total spending. And deeper still, a senior U.S. military official in Kabul is quoted as saying “Only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups”.
So, in fact, the story is the US government is involved in an expensive land war in the most politically complex and corrupt country in Asia, and manages to lose only “a small percentage” of 1.1% of its money to the insurgents.
That, I would argue, is a remarkable success. In fact, I suspect a larger percentage of USG money is lost to domestic graft and criminal activity stateside.
And if you’ll forgive me for being self serving for a moment, this success is due, in a small part, to the work of the PDT staff in Afghanistan who have built a database of over 7000 legit, registered, and tax paying SMEs through our Peace Dividend Marketplace project. Our team works closely with the US government and other donors to help them source their goods and services with honest and capable Afghan entrepreneurs.
I’d argue that the US government should be given credit here for protecting its money in difficult and often impossible circumstances. What’s more, their “Afghan First” policy of buying local has created tens of thousands of jobs and generated hundreds of millions in tax revenues. Far more good has been done than the small amount of damage trumped up and trumpeted by this article.
Originally posted on our Building Markets blog