What’s the Latest Development?
A year-long military investigation into $2.16 billion in contracts made with Afghan businesses has found that the money indirectly funds Taliban operations against U.S. troops. In an effort to support the Afghanistan economy and to cut military expenditure, the Pentagon contracts local business to transport supplies and equipment to U.S. troops stationed throughout Afghanistan. Two main problems exist: (1) There are too many contractors for the military to properly vet and some have Taliban sympathies and (2) along the roads controlled by the Taliban, bribes are paid to guarantee safe passage.
What’s the Big Idea?
The implications of the military’s report raise doubt about U.S. action in Afghanistan: Is the Afghan economy becoming dependent on the occupying force and does the Taliban draw its strength, in part, from money it receives from the U.S. military? According to the General Accounting Office (G.A.O.), neither the State Department nor the Army Corp of Engineers have a vetting process when hiring contractors, and the Pentagon vets companies only after they have been given a contract. The amount of corruption and divided loyalties in Afghanistan mean that American dollars are finding their way into the Taliban’s coffers.