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U.S. has ‘failed’ narcotics fight in Afghanistan, says inspector general

February 3rd, 2014
04:11 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Despite spending $10 billion in reconstruction money fighting narcotics in Afghanistan, the U.S. has “failed,” the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, John Sopko, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“If you look at production, if you look at cultivation, if you look at breaking the tie between the drug culture, the drug production, and the insurgency – if you look at all three of those indicators, we failed.”

Sopko is behind a damning new report alleging that corruption and incompetence in Afghanistan is putting a billion dollars in government assistance at risk.

Of the 16 Afghan ministries that the Inspector General examined, not a single one could be counted on to properly secure funds, the report says.

He alleged that of the litany of fixes to the aid program that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) proposed, 90% were ignored.

Indeed, he said, in Afghanistan’s case USAID waved most of its normal good governance requirements for aid.

“Our fear is that this money is at risk because of the waiver of their requirements.”

“We’re not saying cut off assistance. We’re not saying cut off direct assistance. We actually think that’s a good program,” Sopko said. “But just do it smartly.”

Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, hit back at the report last Thursday, saying that it “suggests that we should attempt to fix every problem in each ministry before we set up programs regardless of whether the deficiencies in question have any bearing on the program we envision.”

Sopko said that he and has his team “totally disagree.”

They are encouraging “very simple recommendations,” he said. “Basic accounting principles: paying people not in cash, but paying them by check.”

Aid groups, he told Amanpour, claim education and health as two success stories in Afghan aid.

“Obviously there have been successes,” he said. “But we’ve spent so much money there, you would assume there were successes.”

“We’ve spent more money on reconstruction in Afghanistan – over a hundred billion dollars – than we have spent for any other single country in the history of our republic.”

The concern when it comes particularly to narcotics, he said, is that the “criminal enterprise” operating in opposition to the Afghan government will grow too powerful.

“Those people don’t care about women’s rights, they don’t care about education, they don’t care about healthcare,” he said. “They care about making a profit.”

“If we don’t do something about them, if that isn’t a priority as we go forward, we could be risking every success that we’ve had over the last 12 years.”


Filed under:  Afghanistan • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Cricket666

    Maybe the best option is to allow the losers that use drugs to do so without recourse. Soon they'll be dead and only non-users to enjoy life without having to deal with the trash of the world.

    February 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  2. Nimet Onsuomalainen

    Look at Portugal. Drug decriminalization has enabled tackling real problems, instead of empty drug-war rhetoric.

    February 3, 2014 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  3. zonker

    “Those people don’t care about women’s rights, they don’t care about education, they don’t care about healthcare,” he said. “They care about making a profit.”

    Evidently, we switched gears to talking about corporate America.

    February 3, 2014 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  4. Engineer Farid Muti

    Afghanistan is poor country Since Us help the economy is Better than Taliban time the taliban and Al qahida sport opeam in Afghanistan ,When I lift Afghanistan on 1985 I went to Pakistan as refugee than I come In the USA as Refugee ,When I was in Pakistan One Pakistani Rupess was 50 Afghaniessussian was in Afganistan today USA is with Afghanistan One Afghani is Two pakistani rupee why Because USA is with us afghanistan is not alone today thanks for Us Govarnament help afghanistan for education economy and better life for afghanistan People

    February 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm | Reply
  5. crinnnge

    It should be :
    U.S. has deliberately ‘failed’ narcotics fight in Afghanistan, says inspector general.
    Who knows and at the same time , narcotics are flowing in America , even McDonalds are selling it now.
    Tali;ban thrives on narcotics money . Narcotic crops are easily identifiable from satellites , why America has not destroyed narcotic crops when it has all the technology to do so? If it had then Taliban's funding would have dried up and they would have been eliminated long time ago.
    No America wants the smoke to billow forever because that makes some ppl rich .

    February 4, 2014 at 2:15 am | Reply
    • TL

      Fact: Under the Taliban government, the production of narcotics in Afghanistan had virtually reached zero. Under the US, it is at its peak, three times the pre-Taliban era and increasing every year.

      February 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • TL

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24919056

      February 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  6. ashok

    The Marshall Plan was a better investment.

    February 4, 2014 at 7:05 am | Reply
  7. Asadullah khan

    US has failed in Afghanistan

    February 4, 2014 at 11:37 am | Reply
  8. Jerry Okamura

    if you were a farmer in that country, what crop would you grow?

    February 4, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  9. truthstingz

    got news for you, the US has failed on a domestic level as well... in general, their war on drugs is BS.

    February 5, 2014 at 6:17 am | Reply
  10. TL

    Fact: Under the Taliban government, the production of narcotics in Afghanistan had virtually reached zero. Under the US, it is at its peak, three times the pre-Taliban era and increasing every year.

    Conjecture: The narcotics trade is fueled and backed by Taliban and they are the beneficiaries of it. How are we to believe this after so many lies by the British and the US govt.

    Fact: The opium production increased by more than 30 times since the US and British take over of Afghanistan.

    February 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  11. Faraz Khan

    Afghan should be for Afghans. No peace should dominate there.

    February 22, 2014 at 10:13 am | Reply
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