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How the Taliban Got YOUR Tax Dollars

Written By Geoffrey Pike

Posted December 27, 2015

taliWhile domestic welfare is often hotly debated in the United States, for some reason, international welfare does not get as much attention. This isn’t just foreign aid, but a piece of foreign policy.

When it comes to war spending – or in this case, spending on a war-torn region – the U.S. government seems to get a virtual free pass for waste and corruption.

An internal investigation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has uncovered millions of dollars of wasted spending on various projects that were supposed to help the people in Afghanistan.

Because of security risks in the war-torn country, it is hard to verify the effectiveness of these projects, let alone that they are actually happening. But at this point, some of the money cannot even be traced to projects.

The USAID projects were supposed to help the local population, and also help in gaining favor and trust for the U.S. government amongst the Afghan locals. But like many government programs, it is not only not accomplishing its stated purpose, but it is actually doing the opposite.

The U.S. government has a habit of trying to buy people off. It is not that other governments around the world wouldn’t try the same thing. It is just that the U.S. government has a lot of money at its disposal.

For example, let’s face it; the U.S. government buys off the House of Saud. There is no way the House of Saud would still be in power in Saudi Arabia if not for the backing of the U.S. government.

Even in situations of war, the U.S. will often try to buy off the local population. Do you think there are any Iraqis who actually want to fight on behalf of the U.S. government? The way they recruit these people is by paying them. Iraqis who are fighting on behalf of the U.S. government are doing it for survival. They are doing it to feed their families.

But this strategy of those running U.S. foreign policy either don’t understand or don’t care about the severe unintended consequences of constantly buying people off and playing multiple sides of the game.

The latest USAID investigation is really just one example of where millions of dollars are being wasted. Or perhaps “wasted” is too kind of a word. If the money were just being burned or spent by cronies on unimportant things, then it might not be so bad.

Helping the Enemy

The USAID investigation not only found waste, but that it was actually helping the Taliban in Afghanistan. So much for building confidence in the locals for the U.S.

Taliban leaders were actually able to get requests submitted for villages under their control. They did this through third parties. And for the projects that were actually implemented in villages not under Taliban control, it often led to an increase in violence or resistance from the Taliban.

And perhaps the biggest irony is that for the projects that were deemed successful, the local population believed that it was the Taliban responsible for getting the approval.

In other words, if you are an American taxpayer, your money is being spent on projects in Afghanistan to build local support for the Taliban. Is this all starting to make sense now?

The key lesson here is that welfare is welfare. There will always be unintended consequences when people get to spend money that is not theirs to begin with. It doesn’t matter if it is welfare spending at home or abroad.

For some reason, many Americans believe that the U.S. military and U.S. contractors overseas are not your typical government agency. They think that every penny spent must have a noble purpose.

In fact, spending overseas is far worse in terms of waste and corruption, not even taking into account whether the U.S. should actually be in Afghanistan. When money is spent in a foreign country, there is going to be even less accountability and the unintended consequences will be even greater.

The only solution to this is to stop the spending. You can’t fix it. You can’t have more accountability. There really is something of a military-industrial complex. But in this case, it isn’t a weapons contractor bidding for the money. It is a government bureaucracy with its bloated budget.

Will anyone in Congress have these bureaucrats testifying under oath on what happened to this money? Will anyone in Congress propose that the agency be abolished? If there is anyone, we can be certain it won’t gain any traction.

The politicians will say that we have to help the people in Afghanistan. Even some who are now against the war and occupation there will say that we need to fix what we broke. But how is this fixing anything? Millions of dollars are being spent to build up the reputation of the Taliban. Who exactly is the enemy here? Does anybody know any more?