Make no mistake about it; pay modest attention to what you hear; the Russians came and left; the Anericans came and its time we left. Infrastructure needs to be made in New York, New Jersey, Georgia, West Virginia, etc. So let it be written, please so let it be done. It is time to spend $10 Billion a month in U.S. and better yet, not spend it for now.
From The Wall Street Joural
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioned the benefit of billions of dollars worth of development aid pumped into Afghanistan, in a report issued Wednesday that called for an overhaul to the effort.
The report said evidence is limited that development helps stabilize territory—a key tenet of the coalition's counterinsurgency strategy. "Foreign aid, when misspent, can fuel corruption, distort labor and goods markets, undermine the host government's ability to exert control over resources, and contribute to insecurity," the report concluded.
A recent British effort in the village of Tor Ghai to deliver some foreign aid—bags of fertilizer and seed intended to convince farmers to abandon their opium crops—highlighted the potential problems. Rival tribes moved to snatch some of the shipment, as did suspected Taliban, and the farmers made clear that opium yields better profits.
"Development leads to security when development issues, like poverty, are the cause of conflict. The causes of conflict in Afghanistan are more complex, such as tribal and ethnic friction," said Andrew Wilder, an expert in Afghan reconstruction at the nonpartisan United States Institute for Peace.
In the last ten years, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department have spent around $18.8 billion in aid in Afghanistan. Foreign donors spent around $35 billion from 2002 to 2008—double the country's 2009-10 gross domestic product, according to Afghan government figures.
The U.S. already has a development-aid footprint in Afghanistan. In 1946 the U.S. began a major project to recreate the Tennessee Valley Authority in Helmand province, creating an irrigation system and building a city that was once dubbed "the New York of Afghanistan." But when Communists took over the country in 1979, the U.S. advisers were evicted; the projects ended and infrastructure slowly decayed.
Now, roads, schools, wells and hospitals are sprouting across the country again. American money has, among other things, helped to fix up more than 1,118 miles of roads, construct or repair 680 schools and increase access to clean drinking water for 54,000 people, according to the USAID.
In the coalition's counter-insurgency strategy, troops secure an area and aid follows to develop services and infrastructure intended to boost confidence in local institutions and give locals something to protect from the Taliban.
In Tor Ghai, the scene that unfolded when grain trucks rolled in indicated that the area remained unsettled.
Tribal divisions quickly erupted as people from neighbouring villages arrived to take advantage. "There is enough seed for everyone," Jim Hagerty, a civilian development expert working with the British military, assured village residents.
To sate demand, Mr. Hagerty ordered in more grain.
As he brought in the new grain, the driver hired to transport it threw down a bag to a friend, Mr. Hagerty said, in a scene which on a small scale underscored the sort of corruption that is dogging Afghanistan nationally. Earlier, one local elder took his allocation further down the road to sell on privately.
There is also rampant local suspicion about how the aid programs work. A study by Stuart Gordon, an expert in Afghan development at think tank Chatham House, showed that many in Helmand saw aid benefiting only specific tribes and propping up existing elites. The corruption this can encourage has often delegitimized the very government it is supposed to boost confidence in, said Mr. Wilder.
Developers hope crops such as wheat and alfalfa will replace opium in villages across Afghanistan. A local farmer, Naimatulnah, who like many Afghans goes by one name, took a shipment of seed—but said he would plant it alongside his opium, having already planted the year's crop. Opium is more lucrative and easier to sell, he said.
Meanwhile, the Afghan army plucked from the crowd two men who Afghan and British soldiers suspected of being Taliban. Locals hid their faces from the men, or muttered to each other in cowed tones, illustrating how the Taliban still casts a fearful shadow here.
The Senate Committee, in the report Wednesday, worried that Western presence has distorted an economy that could "suffer a severe economic depression" when coalition troops cease combat operations by the end of 2014. It calculates that some 80% of USAID funds are going to "short term stabilization programs."
USAID said that it is working on longer term projects that provide "foundational investments" in economic growth, infrastructure, such as in mining, and human capital.
Wherever the British go, they are besieged by aid requests. On a recent patrol in a village here, locals asked for wells, bridges and roads. An old man asked what the British were going to do about his eye condition.
Some locals believe foreign aid won't cease. "The British, they are here for the next 20 years," says Tor Afizullah, an 18-year-old from the area. He says his village has seen increased security and his farming family has benefited from U.K.-financed repairs to U.S.-built irrigation.
But the U.K., like the rest of the coalition, wants to cease combat operations by the end of 2014—though it hopes to continue longterm development plans.
The British say their efforts are having an effect. On patrol, Corp. Steven Japp, of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, testifies to the effect on locals. "At first they wouldn't speak (to soldiers) but since the projects began they talk a lot," he said.