SIGAR, on the job since 2008, has produced 118 audits and inspection reports, and made 23 quarterly reports to Congress. Nothing seems to penetrate the Capitol dome, however. This would account for the remedially surreal and Mr. Rogers-like sound of the lessons Sopko offers for next time -- if, heaven forfend, there is a next time.
"First, we must consider a country's ability to sustain the assistance we provide."
Just think about the fact that the inspector general even has to articulate such a basic premise in the first place. It suggests that the U.S. government did not consider the ability of Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest countries, to sustain the gargantuan projects and programs Uncle Sam was using -- let's be real -- to bribe Afghans out of supporting the "insurgency." Thus, Afghanistan becomes U.S. taxpayers' latest federal entitlement program.
"Second," he says, "reconstruction in a conflict zone is inherently risky."
Really? You mean it's not like building a skyscraper in Manhattan -- as the Bush and Obama administrations appear to have believed? The U.S. "reconstruction" strategy (and I use quotation marks because in Afghanistan's case, "reconstruction" was usually first-time construction) was this: On seeing the infidel's generous and fabulous "nation-building" intentions, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan would instantly and overwhelmingly turn against and work against the local Islamic "insurgency."
For many reasons, a significant number of which are Islamic, this didn't happen -- no matter how much infrastructure, programs and stacks of cash Uncle Sam passed around. Meanwhile, we also believed if we ignored or, worse, accommodated and submitted to the role Islam plays in shaping, guiding, characterizing Afghan culture -- if we just turned a blind eye to Islamic laws against freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to culturally permitted pederasty, to Islamically correct child marriage and abuse of women -- then the Afghans would, too.
Keep the money flowing -- and never mind the endemic corruption in Afghanistan that SIGAR John Sopko has been uncovering. Congressional oversight will get to the bottom of this reckless mess.
Oops, I forgot -- only real democracies have that.