The pathetic character of journalism covering the US war in Afghanistan

Mary Scully's photo.


This is the pathetic character of journalism covering the US war in Afghanistan. The caption to this photo identified this as Kandahar, Afghanistan & said “Families receive winter aid from the Islamic charity Ummah Welfare Trust. The country relies on foreign aid for more than 90% of national income.” Once again, you’re not writing a book when you caption a photo but there ought to be some minimal coherence because nothing but questions get raised from this caption.

The first question is, what is the Ummah Welfare Trust? All one learns from their website is that they are a UK-based “international relief & development charity established in 2001.” Good to know; better to know who the principals are in the organization. Is it another front group like the International Rescue Committee, the “charity” of Kissinger, Madeline Albright, & Elie Wiesel that also operates in Afghanistan? Why the discretion about who runs the operation?

The second question about that 90% of national income is a whopper because when you investigate that territory you uncover a labyrinth of treachery toward the people of Afghanistan. What about Afghanistan’s opium economy which the US military is in up to its eyeballs? A conservative estimate of its value is US$2.5 billion a year. Is that what makes up the other 10% of national income? Who’s raking in the profits? What happened to that trickle-down theory so in vogue among capitalist economists? Because it’s crystal clear the working people of Afghanistan are deriving none of the financial benefits of drug trafficking & all of the problems in massive addiction.

Dozens of countries pledged millions in aid to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Most of those pledges were never delivered & there was massive theft of what was delivered by the Clinton Foundation, International Red Cross, & other NGOs in Haiti. We saw a similar situation when nations pledged millions to rebuild Gaza in 2014 but put Israel in control of the process so that Gaza is now nearly uninhabitable. This is an old international aid scam that enriches a lot of people but not the victims of war & disaster.

In 2012, 70 nations held a donors conference in Tokyo to come up with development aid for Afghanistan. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the US delegation. The conference pledged US$16 billion (£10bn) over four years contingent on the Afghan government reducing corruption & increasing accountability for expenditures. Clinton refused to acknowledge how much the US would pledge but claims it’s the biggest donor. USAID is the agency most involved in dispensing US aid to Afghanistan but there are reports that CIA agents associated with USAID wheeled in suitcases packed full of that aid money to bribe Afghan officials. So that accountability condition for the funds becomes a giant problematic for any Afghan officials wanting to come clean.

Media, always playing chump to the US Pentagon, reports that foreign aid to Afghanistan has led to more girls in school, improved health facilities, lower child mortality. We would like to see some documentation for that claim. They make no accounting for the millions of Afghan refugees in Iran, Pakistan, & now Europe. They make no accounting for widespread child labor, massive homelessness, widespread drug addiction.

Let’s get the figures straight about money pouring into Afghanistan. It’s to maintain the prisons & torture centers run by the CIA; it’s to bribe Afghan officials; & it’s to facilitate drug trafficking likely operated by the CIA & local drug merchants.

Let’s get some more figures straight: Every hour, US taxpayers dish out $4 million for the war in Afghanistan–in 14 years of war that now totals nearly $730 trillion. That doesn’t include the $3.42 million per hour paid to the Pentagon Slush Fund which now totals $113 trillion for unspecified military purposes–like drug trafficking & torture prisons. The reason the US muscles other nations to pledge development to Afghanistan is because it wants them to shoulder the financial burden of US-NATO wars so the Pentagon can spend money on bombs.

There’s no way of knowing how much of the $16 billion was actually delivered but we can be quite certain it was a thimbleful. Or less. But there’s always enough money for bombs.

The historic imperative remains: rebuild the international antiwar movement.
US out of Afghanistan!

(Photo by Muhammad Sadiq/EPA)