Friday, January 21, 2011

Republican Plan to Cut USAID Funding Would Hurt Taliban--IMHO, a Very Good Thing

According to The Hill blog, the Republican Study Committee has proposed cutting funding for the US Agency for International Development. I think that this is a very important step towards beating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. It has been reported that the "hearts and minds" campaign run by NGOs and USAID since 9/11 has funneled billions of dollars to the Taliban and allies of Al Qaeda--no doubt some of it ending up in the hands of Osama Bin Laden, despite denials, since dollars are fungible (as proven in the NEA and PBS debates of the 1990s).

For example, Jean MacKenzie has covered this problem for years in the Global Post. Her conclusion is that the Taliban is a business partner for USAID that cannot be dumped.
If major donors cannot hope to control their partners even in Kabul, they have very little possibility of being able to do much in war zones.

No matter how unpalatable the Talban’s more repressive practices might be to most Afghans, they are a reality that must be dealt with. A weak, corrupt government and a foreign presence whose commitment seems to be waning precipitously cannot provide much of a defense against an insurgency that shows few signs of flagging.

I wrote a series of pieces on Taliban funding a little over a year ago, and for a while I became a favorite interlocutor for USAID officials, Congressional staffers, and others involved in the process. With something close to desperation, they would all ask the same question: how can this be stopped?

I was unable to provide an answer.

We cannot expect those who risk their lives to bring development projects to some of the most insecure areas of the country to forego the small measure of safety they try to purchase by negotiating with the Taliban. Nor can we hope to catch it all — there are simply too many bureaucratic nooks and crannies where payments to the Taliban can be hidden.

One sure way to defund the Taliban, given the failure of USAID to stop paying protection or bribes to the enemy would be for Congress to defund USAID. Shut down the NGOs in Afghanistan who support them. End America's failed "hearts and minds" campaign, and its subsidies to Islamists, terrorists, mafias, warlords and Al Qaeda sympathizers, as well as misguided American charity workers.

If the US military wants to pay off a warlord, it will be their call, not disguised as a "humanitarian mission" -- IMHO, USAID has given humanitarian intervention a bad name in any case.

Ending funding for USAID may not win the war, but at least it would end a US taxpayer subsidy to our enemies. That alone would be a step in the right direction.