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  • The Tani Dam

    Afghanistan: A little story that illustrates its endemic ineptness and corruption, and that of its benefactors.

    Khost Province/2009. In a rare venture beyond his mansion in the provincial capital, the governor of Khost province is here in the district of Tani. So are many other Afghan dignitaries, a gaggle of representatives from the US military, and a few dozen USAID/NGO power-players who specialize in disbursing "burn money". The occasion? A ribbon cutting ceremony at the recently completed Tani Dam, a WHAM (Winning Hearts and Minds) project that would benefit the impoverished Afghan local population.

    The governor is standing on top of the dam, scissors in hand. Behind him is an Afghan soldier clutching his assault rifle, scanning this way and that for any imminent insurgent threat to the Guv. To a round of tepid applause, the governor cuts the ceremonial ribbon. Seconds later... Bam! What the hell? Everyone half-crouches in expectation of insurgent activity, but no. Nothing on that order of threat. The ANA soldier standing behind the governor has simply shot himself in the foot. A small crowd gathers around the inept and now bleeding trooper. Did the bullet ricochet? Is anyone else injured? Upon further inspection the hoi-polloi is stupefied. No ricochet at all, the bullet has penetrated the crown of the dam to a depth of three inches. Huh? Well now.

    As always in Afghanistan, the dam is laced with corruption. Some enterprising ministry minion has collected a nice tidy profit by using substandard material... elephant cement from Pakistan. Stamped on the empty cement bags "For Export Only - Not For Sale In Pakistan". As always in Afghanistan, the magnanimous deed is done and the dignitaries shrug at the Tani Toilet inevitable. After all, nothing escapes corruption in Afghanistan. Departing the pomp and ceremony in the Land Rover he purchased from a drug lord, the US hydrology expert glances back at the Tani Dam in dumbfounded amazement... "The intent was good, but thank God I don't live downstream." And so it goes.
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  • #2
    You're too correct. That story capture the entire picture-lurking insurgent threat, inept security forces, incompetent professional engineers and corrupt governmental management. Voila! Government In A Box...gone rotten.

    If you wrote that, beautifully done. If not, you need to credit the author.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

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    • #3
      Originally posted by S2 View Post
      If you wrote that, beautifully done. If not, you need to credit the author.
      Indeed. My bad. The story above is my own rendition, but it is based on a factual event originally recounted here:

      Funding The Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll The Taliban [Chapter Four]
      Douglas A. Wissing / Prometheus Books / 2012 / 396pp
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      • #4
        Life cannot be all good and nice in a place like Afghanistan.

        This is how things happen, and evolve towards improvement. If you give money control to any local govt official in a war ravaged nation, such types of contractual frauds are common. There is nothing the US or anyone can do.

        Any type of serious controls will be responded with "insurgent" attacks on the work crews.
        It is better to go with the flow and avoid expecting black and white fisical honesty that you get in the west.

        I have seen enough of it happen in my own country, inspite of us being a resurgent economy, so controls will be even worse in a war ravaged Afghanistan.
        Last edited by lemontree; 25 Sep 12,, 12:40.

        Cheers!...on the rocks!!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by lemontree View Post
          Life cannot be all good and nice in a place like Afghanistan.

          This is how things happen, and evolve towards improvement. If you give a money control to any local govt official in a war ravaged nation, such types of contractual frauds are common. There is nothing the US or anyone can do.

          Any type of serious controls will be responded with "insurgent" attacks on the work crews.
          It is better to go with the flow and avoid expecting black and white fisical honesty that you get in the west.

          I have seen enough of it happen in my own country, inspite of us being a resurgent economy, so controls will be even worse in a war ravaged Afghanistan.

          Totally agree. The West is simply looking for a quick solution, and that is just not going to happen. I mean, India's democratic institutions are 65 years old, yet they are still in the process of maturing. Corruption has been rampant in India, and only now are we starting to see this awareness spread among the people and become a grassroots issue. India's first biggest grassroots anti-corruption movement happened only last year! Afghanistan's institutions are far too primitive, and it is futile to expect them to function as first world institutions. All this will take decades to mature, especially for a very primitive country like Afghanistan. There are no quick solutions here. I think we should find comfort in the fact that Afghanistan has been put on the right path. It will be an ugly and corrupt democracy, but it will eventually start to mature, as Afghans start becoming accustomed to it; providing this system is not allowed to be toppled, either by the Taliban, or by the ANA's potentially ambitious future Generals.
          Cow is the only animal that not only inhales oxygen, but also exhales it.
          -Rekha Arya, Former Minister of Animal Husbandry

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          • #6
            My daughter returned from her tour with at least a dozen stories of the mind-boggling corruption and ineptitude that is costing the taxpayers billions upon billions of $$ because of the total lack of oversight and accountability of the disbursed funds and goods.

            A farmer has an animal die - he approaches whoever is the local ISAF liason, claims ISAF is responsible for the death of the animal, and is given a cash payment that is 10X the value of the animal... no questions asked.

            Medical supplies destined for a clinic, offloaded yesterday from trucks or C-17's, can be found today being openly sold in bazaars.

            Afghanis view the aid as an unimaginably rich money tree planted by the stupid Americans and their allies that they frantically pluck, attempting to "get their share" before it disappears.

            VERY depressing.

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            • #7
              And yet they blow up the ISAF forces.

              That's depressing.
              No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

              To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

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