New efforts to stamp out corruption among Afghan government officials and extricate the U.S. military from Afghanistan are going, well, terribly, according to a new report to Congress from the Special Inspector General Report for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
- Afghan officials are behind. As of a February 2018 draft report, Afghan officials had only met 10% (or 2 of 20) of their major benchmarks for that year. However, 10 weeks later, that figure had jumped to 70%; SIGAR praised government officials for their "responsiveness to the draft report" in the final version released at the end of May.
- That's a suspect turnaround. Well, of the 66 major anti-corruption goals released in October 2017, a whopping 58% "lacked corresponding benchmarks to evaluate implementation progress" — which means that the DoD and Afghan officials don't even have the right means to measure success or failure. In addition, another 37% of benchmarks "are without corresponding goals, making it unclear how the completion of these benchmarks will advance the government's anti-corruption goals."
- What's the problem? There are five problems, and they're all bureaucratic garbage! The SIGAR report cited a lack of capacity and resources for key anti-corruption institutions; "differing opinions" among Afghan officials on jurisdiction between government agencies; and a lack of aggressive prosecution. The biggest problem, however: "Unqualified and potentially corrupt actors continue to operate in key Afghan anti-corruption institutions." No shit!
- Things don't look good in the long run: "It is unlikely that lasting change will be realized until the Afghan government commits to fighting corruption without reservations," SIGAR wrote in a statement accompanying the full report. "If the Afghan government continues not to take action against public officials who violate internal codes of ethics, while simultaneously failing to protect reformers and whistleblowers from reprisal, a climate of corruption will endure."
According to the global corruption index maintained by Transparency International, Afghanistan ranks 177 out of 180 in terms of public perceptions of corruption — just above war-torn Syria, war-torn South Sudan, and war-torn Somalia. Something tells me another trillion bucks over another 17 years probably won't help fix that problem.
Read the whole SIGAR report below: