Afghanistan, bloodshed and profits

This video from England says about itself:

Afghanistan – the “Good War”? Seumas Milne July 13 2009

Guardian columnist in a meeting organised by Stop the War Coalition and Media Workers Against War.

See also here.

From People’s Weekly World in the USA:

Afghanistan: U.S. military contractors take root

The U.S. military buildup in Afghanistan signals opportunity for DynCorp and Fluor corporations. Awarded contracts totaling $15 billion over five years, the giant enterprises will build military structures and bases there and undertake power, water, housing, logistic and administrative projects.

Texas-based Fluor Corporation will carry out work at 74 bases in northern Afghanistan, while DynCorp will operate throughout southern Afghanistan.

The Defense Department rejected bids from Halliburton subsidiary KBR, recipient of contracts worth $31.4 billion from 2001-2009. Reuters recalled that a Congressional commission found that KBR had wasted billions because of “poorly defined work orders, inadequate oversight and inefficiencies” marking construction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

British helicopters in Afghanistan, cartoon by Martin Rowson

7 thoughts on “Afghanistan, bloodshed and profits

  1. 54% of Canadians oppose Afghan mission: EKOS poll

    Thursday July 16, 2009 (2358 PST)

    OTTAWA: A slim majority of Canadians oppose Canada’s participation in the ongoing war in Afghanistan, with the strongest opposition coming from Quebec, an EKOS poll suggests.

    The poll, commissioned for CBC and released Thursday, asked: “Do you support or oppose Canadian military participation in Afghanistan?”

    Voters’ intentions

    ’If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?’.

    Conservative: 34.1% . Liberal: 32.4% . NDP: 15.2% . Green: 9.6% . BQ: 8.7% . Source: EKOS .

    Nationally, 54 per cent said they opposed it, while 34 per cent said they supported it, according to the poll. Twelve per cent were undecided.

    Opposition was decisive in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, while Western Canada had a narrower gap between those who support the mission and those who oppose it, EKOS found.

    The survey suggests the strongest opposition exists in Quebec, with 73 per cent of those polled saying they didn’t support Canada’s participation. Fifteen per cent offered their support.

    Alberta had the strongest support for the mission, at 42 per cent, while 45 per cent were opposed, the poll suggested. In British Columbia, opposition was at 49 per cent while 40 per cent offered support.

    The sample size for Saskatchewan/Manitoba was considered too small to be conclusive.

    Opposition was very high among women across the country, with 60 per cent saying Canada should not be involved in Afghanistan and 27 per cent saying it should.

    When it comes to political leanings and support for the mission, Conservative voters were on top with 51 per cent saying Canada should be in Afghanistan. Liberal voters were second with 31 per cent, and Green voters were at 26 per cent.

    Twenty per cent of NDP voters said they supported participating in the mission, while 11 per cent of Bloc Québécois voters did.

    As EKOS was conducting the poll, Britain announced eight of its soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan during a 24-hour period, one of the worst days for British forces since the war started.

    Canada’s direction

    ’All things considered, would you say the country is moving in the right direction or the wrong direction?’.

    Right direction: 55% . Wrong direction: 34% . Don’t know: 11% . Source: EKOS.

    When Canada first sent soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002, public opposition to the mission hovered around 20 per cent, according to EKOS tracking data.

    Since the mission started, Canada has lost 124 Canadian soldiers, two aid workers and one diplomat.

    EKOS conducted the poll between July 8 and 14, 2009, surveying 2,713 Canadians from across the country over the age of 18. It’s the seventh in a series of weekly polls conducted by EKOS and released by CBC News.

    The margin of error for a survey of this size is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


  2. Oversight of U.S. aid to Afghanistan “sloppy”

    Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:43pm GMT

    By Sue Pleming

    WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Oversight and controls for more than $40 billion in U.S. funds to rebuild Afghanistan have been “sloppy” so far despite lessons from Iraq, the U.S. chief inspector for Afghanistan reconstruction said on Tuesday.

    Retired Major General Arnold Fields said there needed to be more accountability, particularly as the Obama administration intends to funnel more funds through Afghan institutions.

    “I think sloppy is a fairly decent characterization,” said Fields in an interview, when asked about oversight so far of U.S. taxpayer funds dedicated to rebuilding Afghanistan since 2002.

    “There is an underlying issue of corruption that needs to be addressed,” added Fields, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, an office funded by Congress last year to track U.S. funds there.

    Fields’ assessment comes as President Barack Obama weighs sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to counter a resurgent Taliban, accompanied by greater U.S. civilian efforts to boost Afghan capacity.

    So far, Fields’ office has 57 staff, of whom about half are in Afghanistan, with plans to more than double that next year.

    “If folks are out there wasting, defrauding or abusing taxpayer dollars, they will be caught,” said Fields, who has established a hotline for people to report abuses (here)

    Two dual Afghan-U.S. nationals were set to be sentenced on Friday in the United States after they pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a U.S. sergeant for the design of a road in Logar province.

    Their bribery scheme amounted to about $3 million, said retired FBI agent Raymond DiNunzio, who works in Fields’ Arlington, Virginia, office. It involved wiring money to U.S. banks, the delivery of luxury vehicles to the homes of contractors and many other schemes.

    DiNunzio said of 50 investigations he was currently working on in Afghanistan, a third involved contractor fraud or criminal wrongdoing.

    While much of their work has only just begun, auditors and investigators indicated early signs were not good.

    “My overall impression is that there is an awful lot to audit and investigate,” said John Brummet, chief of audits in the inspector general’s office.


    About $18.6 billion of the more than $40 billion in U.S. funds is dedicated to security — the training and equipping of the Afghan army and police force. Investigators have several audits open for security contracts which will be complete next year.

    “We probably should expect more to show for our money,” Fields said.

    He recalled visiting military facilities in Herat province where roads, buildings and equipment looked good but this did not translate into improved Afghan capacity.

    “You don’t fight the Taliban or al Qaeda with good facilities. You fight with good troops who know how to use the equipment and how to maintain it. Maybe that is where the rub is, but I don’t know yet.”

    Fields was appointed in June last year, drawing on his experience coordinating more than $21 billion in U.S. funds to rebuild Iraq after the U.S. invasion of March 2003.

    As in Iraq, a big chunk of Afghan spending goes toward providing security for projects, sometimes accounting for 30 to 40 percent of the total cost, Brummet said.

    The Bush administration was roundly assailed for its rebuilding efforts in Iraq. Critics said it served more to pad the pockets of major U.S. companies than build local capacity.

    This time, the Obama administration wants Afghan firms to have more opportunities, but this has its own problems in a country where corruption is endemic and limited controls are in place to ensure money is used properly.

    “We need to have proper oversight of contractors whether they be U.S. or Afghan and that is something we are looking at,” said Brummet.

    Fields and his investigators are frequently asked whether lessons learned in Iraq were being implemented. Early audits point to the same problems — lack of oversight and internal controls, inattention to maintenance and not putting enough into building up Afghan institutions.

    “These are all themes that came out of the hard lessons book and we are seeing the same things,” said Brummet.

    (Editing by Eric Beech)


  3. Pingback: Women flogged publicly in ‘new’ Afghanistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Corrupt occupation in Afghanistan, new film | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Afghan civilian deaths rising | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: War, not ‘reconstruction’ in Afghanistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: DynCorp mercenaries’ corruption scandal | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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