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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thought for the Day


Yesterday's "War on Terror" (that hapless phrase) is today's "War on Corruption".

Some huge proportion of every article I read, these days, cannot fail to mention corruption, principally in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan.

The elections in Afghanistan and Iraq both have "corruption" as a major theme. We actually have officials who guesstimate how much of our contracting work goes to graft, bribes, or grease.

Dramatizing a *huge*, well-known problem, PBS has a documentary out about Pakistan's notorious paper schools, the ones that get funding on paper that goes into pockets elsewhere. Separately, we supposedly are paying money to Pakistan for 'police training', but our own metrics show the police to be hopelessly corrupt. It goes to the top. Even Bhutto's husband was known as "Mr. Ten Percent". [update: money flying out of Afghanistan, literally, to the gold coasters...]


Hamid Karzai, after pledging to "fight corruption", recently gave himself control over the Afghani equivalent of the FEC. Was that a blow for justice (a routing of trouble makers) or a blow for non-accountability? At some point, the structure of the government becomes indefensible, threatening to compound any corruption problems, right? Our hopes for the women of Afghanistan have been scuttled by the political dynamics and expediency of the conflict there.

In general, we've typically failed ourselves, trying to support the "less evil" option, during the cold war, no?

At a minimum, this presents a problem for modern COIN doctrine. What if the population has two choices, neither of which they want to fight for? I'm not sure there is that level of apathy or disaffection, but ...