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I thought part of the strategy of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan was to stop corruption by officials in the Karzai government, not become an active participant in it. Turns out I was wrong, there’s a Mafia-style protection racket going on there, funded by you and me, which even includes payments to our supposed enemies–-the Taliban. And of course, Hamid Karzai and some more of his crooked relatives have their hands in the pie as well. What a surprise:

“The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

The security arrangements, part of a $2.16 billion transport contract, violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as Defense Department regulations, and “dramatically undermine” larger U.S. objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan, a report released late Monday said.”

Not that any of this is news to the DOD:

“The report describes a Defense Department that is well aware that some of the money paid to contractors winds up in the hands of warlords and insurgents.”

What do they care, it’s our money, and there’s always plenty more where that came from.

“In testimony shortly after Obama’s strategy announcement, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that “much of the corruption” in Afghanistan has been fueled by billions of dollars’ worth of foreign money spent there, “and one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money.”

It must have been a momentary case of amnesia that caused Secretary Clinton to neglect to mention that the US happens to be a major source of that “foreign money.” Just an unintentional oversight, I’m sure.

But not to worry, this is what Gen. McChrystal calls “entrepreneurship.”

“Unlike in the Iraq war, the security and vast majority of the trucks are provided by Afghans, a difference that Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has praised as promoting local entrepreneurship.”

And wherever there’s corruption the Karzai-leone crime family can’t be far behind:

“The report describes a system in which subcontractors — most of them well-known warlords who maintain their own militias — charge $1,500 to $15,000 per truck to supply guards and help secure safe passage through territory they control. The most powerful of them, known as Commander Ruhullah, controls passage along Highway One, the principal route between Kabul and Kandahar, under the auspices of Watan Risk Management, a company owned by two of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s cousins.

Overall management of who wins the security subcontracts, it said, is often controlled by local political powerbrokers such as Karzai’s half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, head of the Kandahar provincial council.”

The Afghan warlords, the Taliban, and the Karzai family would like to express their appreciation to the American taxpayers for their continued support. And they hope we hang around another 10 or 20 years.

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