2009 January 01 Thursday
Afghanistan Is Thoroughly Corrupt

Dexter Filkins of the New York Times reports on the depth and breadth of corruption in Afghanistan.

KABUL — When it comes to governing this violent, fractious land, everything, it seems, has its price.

Want to be a provincial police chief? It will cost you $100,000.

Want to drive a convoy of trucks loaded with fuel across the country? Be prepared to pay $6,000 per truck, so the police will not tip off the Taliban.

Need to settle a lawsuit over the ownership of your house? About $25,000, depending on the judge.

No doubt we fund those police. Given Afghanistan's fertility rate of 6.58 we are funding the development of a much larger corrupt state.

Hey, look at it on the libertarian free market bright side: Afghanistan has privatized everything, even the airport.

People pay bribes for large things, and for small things, too: to get electricity for their homes, to get out of jail, even to enter the airport.

A high rate of consanguineous (cousin) marriage with tribal loyalties over loyalties to the state, a high fertility rate, and an estimated average IQ of 84 all tell us that Afghanistan isn't on the road toward modern industrial society.

The US under the Obama Administration is going to get more involved with Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have a few advantages. First off, we can afford to bribe to rent loyalty. Though verifying performance will be difficult. Also, not too many countries care what happens in Afghanistan. So we probably won't be playing a Great Game for influence over Afghanistan. But our policy makers will continue to be blinded by politically correct ideology. Plus, the Pakistani government exercises limited control over Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas and some substantial portion of Pakistan's intelligence service is sympathetic to the Taliban on both tribal and religious grounds.

US policy makers are in way over their heads in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. We can't expect much from their performance.

Update Obama team adviser and former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel says Pakistan's government played us for suckers. Geez, are we really such Rubes? After all we've got foreign policy experts calling the shots in Washington DC. Surely experts know what they are doing? (okay, I'm being sarcastic)

Mr. Riedel is one of a chorus of terrorism experts who see the terrorist network’s base in the mountains of Pakistan as America’s greatest threat, and perhaps the biggest problem facing Mr. Obama’s new team.

He speaks angrily about what he calls a savvy campaign by Pakistan’s government under President Pervez Musharraf to fleece Washington for billions of dollars even as it allowed Al Qaeda to regroup in Pakistan’s tribal lands.

“We had a partner that was double-dealing us,” he said during an interview in his house in a Washington suburb. “Anyone can be snookered and double-dealt. But after six years you have to start to figure it out.”

It takes 6 years to figure out that we are being snookered? Me thinks sufficiently talented people do not go into government service.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 January 01 01:17 PM  MidEast Afghanistan

gcochran said at January 1, 2009 3:49 PM:

"not too many countries care what happens in Afghanistan"

Boy, are _they_ ever missing out.

Kenelm Digby said at January 2, 2009 3:01 AM:

I'll let you in to a dirty little secret Randall, ALL East Indian types are corrupt.
As are most Asiatics in general.
This is something the English (in olden days, at any rate) have always known.
If more americans knew this, then perhaps you would never have got so bogged down in Vietnam and Iraq.

Ned said at January 2, 2009 5:41 AM:

Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.

- from "The Naulahka" by Rudyard Kipling

averros said at January 6, 2009 11:15 PM:

...and, of course, situation in Afganistan has nothing to do with libertarianism.

"Privatizing" government functions of pillage and taxation is not libertarian. Abolishing these functions, and having those who try it shot, is.

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