March 3, 2011

Fixing Aid in Afghanistan

From Registan.net by Joshua Foust -
Mark Moyar is onto something:

The story of the Kajaki dam, the largest U.S. aid project in Afghanistan, is emblematic of the U.S. government’s failing approach to development aid in Afghanistan, according to a policy brief by Mark Moyar, a former professor at the Marine Corps University and frequent consultant to U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan and the Mideast.

Development aid “should be slashed immediately,” Moyar concludes. Less money should be accompanied by a narrower focus away from common good programs designed to lift the whole of Afghan society and accompanied by clearer security objectives behind each program, Moyar said.
This is absolutely right on. By and large, huge capital-intensive aid projects in Afghanistan have not had the effects desired (including my old stalking horse, the roads), and just as importantly don’t contribute to the counterinsurgency. In fact, the way we’ve disbursed aid so far has created a perverse incentive for more insurgency, as hosting fighters turns an area into a sponge for aid. Moyar’s report (pdf) is right on the broad strokes of what’s wrong with the current aid regime; he fails, however, to offer a viable alternative.
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