Our government has long seemed to be descending into a type of Orwellian universe of double speak. The Libyan War was not a war but a “time-limited, scope-limited military action” under Obama. Torture of detainees was not torture but “enhanced interrogation” under Bush. Now it appears open bribery of foreign officials is not bribery but “incentives” to implement policies favorable to their own people. Congressional members are moving to address what is being called a “slush fund” with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries. We have previously discussed such payments by the CIA to the openly corrupt Afghanistan government, including suitcases of cash to President Helmit Karzai. What is most interesting is that an act that is a federal crime for citizens doing business abroad can be not only legal but an official program by government officials. It appears that in the handshake shown on the USAID seal, there is often a sawbuck or two in the palm.
The USAID routinely makes “incentive” payments to lawmakers to pass legislation or enact policies through the world. Even policies that benefit their own people like granting rights to women or protecting the democratic process are secured by greasing the palms of corrupt officials. In doing so, the United States perpetuates the rampant corruption in these countries and enriches officials who will only act if it benefits them personally.
We have yet another report of the mind boggling waste and mismanagement by the Defense Department in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the most recent investigation, the U.S. government continues to hand out no-bid contracts worth billions to companies with histories of ripping off the U.S. taxpayer. One foreign company, Supreme Foodservice should be remained Supreme Fraudservice after the company based in Switzerland overcharged the government by $757 million. Nevertheless, the company has been given contracts worth more than $5 billion to feed the troops in Afghanistan.
The story details how billions have disappears in Afghanistan. Other companies sucking up this windfall include DynCorp International, KBR and Fluor Corporation. No bid contracts continue to insulate the companies from competition while they rack in billions.
The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose on Sunday brought the War on Drugs – and the war in Afghanistan – into the forefront of discussion in America. Most heroin in the US comes through Mexico, but heroin trafficking is also on the rise in Afghanistan, where opium and coca are two of the country’s biggest exports.
A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee took a look at the problem on Wednesday, holding a hearing entitled, “‘US Counternarcotics Operations in Afghanistan.” RT’s Liz Wahl talks to Anthony Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, about whether or not there have been any real results to the billions of dollars the US has spent battling poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
We have previously discussed the obscene amount of money — in the hundreds of billions — spent in Afghanistan and Iraq as we cancel or curtail educational, scientific, and environmental programs at home. The sheer waste and corruption in those countries is breathtaking. We can now add a five-year program where we have spent $200 million dollars to teach Afghan soldiers to read but is now considered a total failure — after almost a quarter of a billion dollars. As we discussed earlier, there is again no word of any actual discipline for the people that approved and managed this colossal failure.
The literacy program for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) was a valid objective but, like so many in these wars, it appears to have been managed with almost willful blindness. There was not even a basic record of actual soldiers who achieved literacy. While the goal of the program was to make 100 percent of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) able to read at a first grade level and 50 percent literate at a third grade level, those goals are not viewed after five years and $200 million as “unrealistic” and unattainable.”
I have previously written about the waste of billions of dollars by the government without any significant discipline for government officials. We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to President Karzai to constructing huge buildings to be immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used. The common element to the stories is the absence of any reported prosecution or even discipline for those responsible. You can simply waste hundreds of millions of dollars and continue in your government position. This week’s outrage comes from a report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Thus, USAid can pay a $300,000 charge for 600 gallons of diesel fuel at $500/gallon but there is no punishment, let alone a prosecution. In the meantime, small programs for as little as $1 million domestically are being cut while we gush billions in waste. We can now add a half-billion dollars spent on refurbishing aircraft for the Afghan Air Force that have been left to rot unused in Kabul and Germany. Ironically, the aircraft are called Spartan but there was nothing Spartan about the wasteful spending of the Pentagon which may now seek to destroy the aircraft.
What is interesting is that, as with previous stories of wasteful purchases of Russian and Italian aircraft, the 20 G222s (C-27A) — military transport aircraft built in Italy — did not even bring money to U.S. companies or jobs to U.S. citizens. We then spent rough $500 million to refurbish the foreign aircraft that would never fly.
In my last column I emphasized that it was important for American citizens to demand to know what the real agendas are behind the wars of choice by the Bush and Obama regimes. These are major long term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II.
Forbes reports that one million US soldiers have been injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccaruiz/2013/11/04/report-a-million-veterans-injured-in-iraq-afghanistan-wars/
RT reports that the cost of keeping each US soldier in Afghanistan has risen from $1.3 million per soldier to $2.1 million per soldier. http://rt.com/usa/us-afghanistan-pentagon-troops-budget-721/
Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article32304 This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.
In other words, it is the cost of these two wars that explain the explosion of the US public debt and the economic and political problems associated with this large debt.
What has America gained in return for $6 trillion and one million injured soldiers, many very severely?
Afghan opium cultivation has reached a record level, with more than 200,000 hectares planted with the poppy for the first time, the United Nations says.
The UNODC report said the harvest was 36% up on last year, and if fully realised would outstrip global demand.
Most of the rise was in Helmand province, where British troops are preparing to withdraw.
One of the main reasons the UK sent troops to Helmand was to cut opium production.
The head of the UN office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, said that production was likely to rise again next year, amid uncertainty over the withdrawal of most foreign troops and the presidential election.
You laugh, but that could be a side-effect. Consider:
The Capitol Police just murdered an unarmed mother fleeing her car on foot, declared her child “unharmed,” and received the longest standing-ovation in Congress since Osama bin Laden’s Muslim sea burial. Try holding your breath until Congress takes the standing ovation back, and you’ll wish you were in the “Holy Land” having your house sprayed with “Skunk” artificial sewage by the Israeli military or in Old Town Alexandria tasting the air of the authentic raw sewage across the river until it’s “treated” and spread on farms in the exurbs for the benefit of we the people.
Why? Because freedom.
Who would give all of this up in exchange for a reduced military costing less than $1 trillion per year? Well, maybe the dude who just cremated himself alive on the National Mall, it’s hard to know. Or possibly me the next time a tourist asks me why they named it the National Mall knowing fully damn well that they’d confuse everyone who arrived expecting department stores and food courts.
This weekend, government programs aimed at slowing the starvation or other premature death of the least well off among us were closed, out of business, gone fishing. But the [f'ing] football game between the Navy and the Air Force was an essential government service proudly played for the honor of “everyone fighting for this country” as one brainwashed midshipman put it. Did you know the top paid people in the U.S. military are all football coaches, and essential public servants?
President after president of countries 8% of us could find on a map are going to the United Nations to compare U.S. “exceptionalism” to Nazi Ubermenschen. Can you imagine the anti-American idiocy involved? But the last living prosecutor at Nuremberg, an American, has been saying the same thing. What’s his problem? And how could he dare if this weren’t all hallucinatory?