Afghan war corrupts US social science

This video from the USA says about itself:

The $190 million road from Kabul to Kandahar

U.S. taxpayers paid for it through USAID.

We wouldn’t have to rebuild Afghanistan if we quit bombing it! …

By 1984, the University of Nebraska, through a $51 million USAID grant, joined the Mujahideen war against the Red Army. The University’s Center for Afghanistan Studies produced literature in Pashtu and Dari indoctrinating Afghan children with fanaticism and bigotry. According to The Washington Post of 23 March 2003, Afghan children were “taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines.” In Qur’aanic lessons, Mujahideen were shown the path to heaven by killing a handful of ‘godless Russians’.

From Inside Higher Ed in the USA:

Controversy Over Nebraska Center on Afghanistan

The University of Nebraska at Omaha is home to the Center for Afghanistan Studies, an academic center created in the 1970s, before Afghanistan was a hot spot in global conflict. As a result, the center’s officials became much-quoted and the center has attracted numerous grants for its work as the country has become key to U.S. foreign policy. An article in the Los Angeles Times notes that while the attention and funds have pleased the university, many critics question whether the center is too close to federal agencies and not sufficiently scholarly.

Hamid Karzai has been accused of failing to keep his election promise of ending ministerial corruption after it was claimed yesterday that his office blocked the arrest of the first high-profile target of the Afghan government‘s promised purge of corrupt officials: here.

The most jarring part of the Obama fly-in to Bagram was the part of the base he (apparently) didn’t visit: the secret prison we’ve been running there for years. It’s Gitmo on steroids: here.

Sneaking in and out of Kabul under the cover of darkness Sunday, President Barack Obama’s trip to Afghanistan only underscored the crisis confronting the US in the midst of the war’s current escalation: here.

UN report: Afghans plagued by poverty, corruption: here.

WASHINGTON, Mar 30, 2010 (IPS) – Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country’s juvenile justice system: here.

From Monthly Review:

Faculty of the University of Regina Say No to “Project Hero” and Canadian Imperialism: An Open Letter to President Vianne Timmons

March 23, 2010

Dear President Timmons:

We write to you as concerned faculty members of the University of Regina, to urge you to withdraw our university immediately from participation in the “Project Hero” scholarship program. This program, which waives tuition and course fees, and provides $1,000 per year to “dependents of Canadian Forces personnel deceased while serving with an active mission”, is a glorification of Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. We do not want our university associated with the political impulse to unquestioning glorification of military action.

If the US public looked long and hard into a mirror reflecting the civilian atrocities that have occurred in Afghanistan over the past ten months, we would see ourselves as people who have collaborated with and paid for war crimes committed against innocent civilians who meant us no harm: here.

The UN has slammed the Western-backed Afghan regime for failing “to deliver basic services such as security, food or shelter” to the country’s people – 36 per cent of whom live in absolute poverty: here.

U.N.: Afghanistan ‘world’s biggest producer of hashish’: here.

The Opium Wars in Afghanistan: here.

2 thoughts on “Afghan war corrupts US social science

  1. Afghan drug cartels and corrupt officials squeeze poppy farmers dry

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Lynne O’Donnell

    Agence France Presse

    LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan: Like farmers the world over Haji Afzal has locked in the price for his crop with a forward contract.

    Rather than a contract on the Chicago Board of Trade – like an American wheat farmer or a Thai rice grower – Afzal was paid 400,000 Pakistani rupees ($5,000) by a middleman for the world’s biggest drugs cartels.

    Afzal will harvest in a month, when the tall green weeds on his land have burst into scarlet bloom and the poppy bulbs ooze sap that will become opium.

    The cash ensured Afzal had all he needed for a good crop – seed, water, fertilizer, tools – supplied by the men who will process his opium into heroin and ship it across the world.

    But opium prices have fallen over the past year by about 30 percent, to less than $50 a kilogram, and Afzal worries officials will destroy his plants – or demand bribes not to.

    He also worries his farm will be squeezed between the Afghan government with its Western military backers and Taliban militants who control poppy production in Helmand Province, source of most of the world’s opium.

    Azfal – not his real name – lives in Gereshk and is watching closely as US Marines lead efforts to assert government rule in Marjah, a farming district further south down the Helmand River.

    The area has for years been controlled by insurgents and drug traffickers who compel farmers to grow poppies, paying for the raw opium they produce or making life difficult if they do not.

    “We know the government started a campaign to eradicate opium,” said Azfal, referring to new plans to wipe out poppies.

    “Some people are worried, although we know they cannot extend their campaign to our district because there are Taliban who will attack them.

    “But we are also worried about the military – if the Marjah operation goes well, they may plan to extend their operation to other parts of Helmand,” he said.

    Marjah is the target of a coordinated campaign to push out militants and drug dealers and establish government control with police and civil services.

    Operation Mushtarak (“together” in Dari and Pashto) is the test of a US-led counter-insurgency strategy focused on winning the confidence of local people with a level of security to keep the Taliban and drug lords from returning.

    It has not worked in the past because the Afghan government could not ensure a stable and accountable presence with officials immune to the temptations of corruption inherent in the $3-billion-a-year drugs business.

    “Drug money is addictive, and is starting to trump ideology,” said the head of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, in a September report.

    Cooperation between the Taliban, drug smugglers and corrupt officials has turned areas such as Marjah into mafia fiefdoms. Militants provide the muscle to coerce farmers to grow poppy and protect the processing labs and smuggling routes through Pakistan to the east, Iran to the west or the former Soviet states to the north.

    This “marriage of convenience” has turned Afghanistan into a narco-state comparable to Colombia, Costa said.

    Afghan opium funds crime gangs, insurgencies and terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere, his report said, adding “collusion with corrupt government officials is undermining public trust, security and the rule of law.”

    In Lashkar Gah, a reconstruction team – where British bureaucrats lead a multinational team of experts in such areas as governance, justice and counter-narcotics – has distributed wheat seed to around 40,000 Helmand farmers in an effort to provide alternatives to poppy, said deputy head Bridget Brind.

    “These sort of counternarcotics initiatives reduce insurgent influence and increase government authority,” she told reporters, adding that the fall in opium prices was matched by a wheat price rise, another reason to switch.

    But the figures don’t quite match the rhetoric and UNODC has called eradication “a failure.” In 2008-2009, only 10,000 hectares of opium, or less than four percent of land planted, were eradicated.

    Norine MacDonald, president of the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), said: “If these calculations are accurate, it still leaves a staggering 1.4 million people involved in illegal poppy cultivation.

    (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::


  2. Sold, raped and jailed, a girl faces Afghan justice

    Deepa Babington


    Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:12am EDT

    KABUL (Reuters) – For the shy Afghan girl who sat quietly in a detention center with a pale blue headscarf, teenage rebellion had come at a heavy price: seven years in prison.

    Engaged to an older man who had offered $5,000 to her father but in love with a boy she spoke to on the phone, the 16-year-old girl was hauled before a court that found her guilty of running away from home, according to an account she provided.

    “I was engaged to an older man and I was not happy. He was painting his beard black,” said the girl, who cannot be named because of rules protecting juvenile detainees.

    Now pregnant, she said she did not know who the baby’s father was, adding she had slept with both the boy she was in love with and the man she was engaged to. She also said she had been raped while in detention before being sent to the Kabul facility. The girl’s story offers a glimpse into the nature of Afghanistan’s rudimentary justice system, underscoring the uphill task ahead as U.S. President Barack Obama calls for improving the rule of law to match military gains in the country.

    Obama has ordered an extra 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan to beat back a resurgent Taliban, but officials also recognize progress on civilian issues like corruption, governance and justice will be essential to bringing stability to the country.

    “I’ve seen travesties in court,” said Kimberly Motley, a U.S. lawyer who interviewed 348 detainees, judges and others for a report on the juvenile justice system and also represents the pregnant Afghan girl in an effort to win her freedom.

    “I’ve seen kids not even being brought into court for their hearing. Cases without any witnesses. And more times, no evidence than any evidence. And the verdict is always guilty.”

    Young girls usually fare the worst within the system, she said. In a deeply conservative Muslim society where women were banned from education during Taliban rule, anything from trying to escape a forced marriage to walking down the street with a boy who is not a relative can land them in jail.


    About half the young girls locked up in Afghan detention centres are charged with “moral crimes” like running away from home and adultery, Motley said. At times, runaways are booked on the surreal charge of “kidnapping” themselves, she said.

    Though Afghan law does not specifically cite moral crimes like running away as illegal, judges often use Article 130 that allows courts to “rule in a way that attains justice in the best manner” when faced with a case where other laws do not apply.

    “That opens up a window for all sorts of things,” said Francesco Ponzoni, a legal adviser to the Italian Cooperation, the development arm of the Italian embassy.

    Italy was the lead nation on justice in Afghanistan within the NATO alliance, and rule of law remains a focal point.

    Aside from “moral crime,” about 30 percent of the detained girls are locked up on murder charges, though often that is a case of guilt by association — they may have been present when somebody else carried out a killing, Motley said. The rest are detained on assorted charges like theft.

    With Afghan women — especially in rural areas — taught to play a passive role in public, the odds are further stacked against the young girls when they enter a courtroom.

    “Culturally, they’re put in a no-win situation,” said Motley. “If they speak up, they look like they’re going against the grain. If they don’t speak up, it’s an admission of guilt.”


    Afghanistan is said to have as many as 30 juvenile detention centres with about 600 detainees, but detainees likely number closer to 1,000 if boys who are wrongly told they are over 18 and informal detention centres are included, Motley said.

    The Italian Cooperation is trying to push alternatives to ordinary detention for juveniles and funded the construction of an “open” center in Kabul, where inmates are allowed to go to school or work during the day.

    Still, only about 10 children are at the open center now, which is hampered by the reluctance of judges to send them there and limited transport available to shuttle children out and back.

    At the closed detention center in Kabul, high concrete walls and barbed wire fence off the young Afghans from the outside world, prompting curious inmates to crowd around its grilled windows when visitors arrive.

    In the female section, a room with benches, a carpet-weaving machine, a few sewing machines and paint peeling off the walls serves as a classroom.

    A group of girls locked away in a room of bunk beds with red blankets jump up and demurely stand in attention when the warden throws open its heavy black doors. Some look scared.

    “I made a mistake,” one girl in a black headscarf said softly when asked how she ended up there.

    (Additional reporting by Yousuf Azimy; Editing by Nick Macfie)


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