War, not ‘reconstruction’ in Afghanistan

This video from the USA is called Rethink Afghanistan War (Part 5): Women of Afghanistan.

By Lizzie Cocker in Britain:

Billions go to waste in Afghan rebuilding

Monday 30 November 2009

A disproportionate amount of aid in Afghanistan is being used to fight resistance to the occupation rather than being channelled into reconstruction and acute humanitarian needs, economists have revealed.

Researchers at the London School of Economics found that more than half of the US aid budget to Afghanistan was focused on the four most insecure provinces in the south of the country and that a fifth of Britain’s budget was allocated to projects in southern Helmand province where most British troops are based.

They said this “suggests that poverty reduction is not the primary criterion being used to target aid. As throughout Afghanistan‘s recent history, foreign aid has been used to leverage external security interests.”

The report also found that most of the $15 billion (£9.1bn) US aid spent between 2002 and 2008 was “wasted” and “ineffective, not least because of the exorbitant fees charged by private contractors.”

It added that “quick-impact projects” carried out by mixed civilian and military provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) “are often ill-thought-through, unsustainable and of limited developmental value.”

The researchers wrote: “NGO workers related instances where the military hastily constructed school buildings but without first ensuring new teachers had been recruited.

“The (underlying) thinking that development projects can buy the trust of local communities who in turn will provide valuable intelligence is seriously misguided.”

They found that US-initiated PRTs put the lives of NGO workers at risk as they alternate their dress between military fatigues and civilian clothes, making it difficult for citizens to distinguish between the military and aid workers.

In addition, the engagement of PRTs in activities commonly undertaken by NGOs “has heightened divisions and distrust amongst NGOs, each accusing each other of working with the military.”

Most international NGOs said they did not and would not work with PRTs.

But the researchers also criticised NGOs for failing to recognise their political position and how they have compromised their own neutrality.

The report quoted the chairman of Afghan organisation the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society as saying: “Maybe NGOs have to work with government to meet people’s needs. So they should stop talking about being neutral. We’re not neutral in supporting a democratically elected government put in place by force.”

The report said that the implicit support by NGOs of the Afghan government “has no doubt contributed to their failure to mount a robust defence against military perspectives.”

The findings were published as [British] Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth confirmed that an extra 500 troops will be poured into the conflict, while US President Obama was expected to announce an extra 35,000 troops.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said: “This report exposes the government lie that the war in Afghanistan is a humanitarian intervention.

“It’s time to get the troops out and spend the billions on war improving the lives of some of the poorest in Afghanistan and in Britain,” Ms German said.

Seven insane problems outlined in the new Afghan reconstruction report. Think things are bad? You don’t know the half of it: here.

USA: Independent journalist Dahr Jamail, author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, reports on allegations that the Army is purposefully obscuring the number of soldiers’ suicides: here.

100 FAMILIES SUE U.S. CONTRACTORS FOR ‘PAYING OFF TALIBAN’ More than 100 Gold Star families have sued several American defense contractors for allegedly paying protection money to the Taliban while building projects in Afghanistan. The payments, the lawsuit argues, “aided and abetted terrorism” against Americans by enabling the Taliban to continue to fight — and kill U.S. troops. [HuffPost]

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