Degradation, Corruption Fester in Afghanistan under U.S. Occupation
July 9, 2010
One aspect of that war and the way it oppress the population of Afghanistan is the rampant corruption of the Karzai regime. A new survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), an anti-corruption watchdog, indicates the extent of that corruption has worsened.
The survey found pervasive corruption in the police, justice, health and education sectors. And despite claims of progress in fighting corruption by the U.S. and the Afghan puppet regimes, corruption has actually gotten worse. The survey results show that bribery has doubled since 2007 and puts the financial burden on the Afghan Gross Domestic Product at close to one billion U.S. dollars per year.
According to the survey twenty-eight percent of those polled had to pay at least one bribe to obtain a public service. Seventy-two percent of Afghans consider the public sphere to be the most corrupt sector and two thirds of respondents stated that their household was deprived of at least one public service due to corruption.
The survey indicated that the police, courts and administrative services demand the highest number of bribes. However, the sectors which require the largest bribes, with an average bribe size of $180 are education and health. Recently U.S. officials bragged about the number of students now attending school in Afghanistan as a sign of progress under the American occupation, but for some reason they did not disclose that bribes were often required to enroll students.
The survey shows that the highest corruption burden is carried by the poorest who primarily reside in rural areas. Seventy-five percent of Afghans live in the countryside. Many Afghans exist on one dollar a day or less so you can imagine how this corruption impacts them. Is it then a surprise that many in these areas also oppose the authority of the puppet government, including some who then support the Taliban? Not surprisingly, one third of the respondents said they had heard the Taliban were mobilizing against the puppet government on the basis of corruption allegations. Fifty percent of those surveyed consider that corruption fosters the expansion of the Taliban and one third reported it caused conflict at local level, primarily related to land issues.
This is the second corruption survey produced by IWA. The first was published in 2007 and it was conducted in 13 provinces. The National Corruption Survey 2010 was conducted in 32 provinces at the end of 2009 and covered 6,500 respondents.
Those who pay bribes have to spend a considerable part of their income on these bribes. In 2009, the average value of the bribes among those who paid them was $156. Average per capita income is only $502 per year. The survey shows that the Afghan population as a whole
paid twice as much in 2009 as it had paid in 2007 in bribes. In 2007, the amount of bribes paid by
the adult population was estimated at $466 million, while the current survey
indicates that it is close to one billion dollars. Thirty-four percent stated that the general
impact of corruption on their households was considerable or extremely high.
In the survey 70% reported that corruption is a common occurrence and a normal of way of doing business with the puppet state. The average number of bribery experiences was 3.4 times a year among those who were forced to pay a bribe in 2009.
The U.S. government claims that security and law and order are the keys of achieving U.S. goals in Afghanistan. But Afghan security and judiciary institutions, along with municipalities, are still perceived as the most corrupt institutions by those surveyed. The services provided by these
Institutions were implicated in the highest number of bribes paid by households in
2009. The bribes to these institutions affected close to 10% of the households surveyed.
As to which Afghan government agencies were the most corrupt it was quite a competition in the survey. Forty-two percent of the polled respondents consider the Ministry of Interior to be the most corrupt, while the Ministry of Justice and the Directorate of National Security are perceived as the most corrupt by 32% and 30%, respectively. Obviously "security and justice" are for sale in Afghanistan.
Millions of Afghans live in poverty because they are either unemployed or underemployed. But bribery does create jobs. It has created the professional commission-takers, who are paid a lump sum of money to obtain the relevant services after a bribe is paid. These middle-men now participate in 44% of all bribery transactions according to those polled.
While some U.S. apologists would like us to believe that bribery is just an Afghan thing and has nothing to do with the U.S. war of terror, they can not explain that one of the other most corrupt nations in the world is that of Iraq, which also just happens to be occupied by the U.S.
This is no coincidence. In its war of terror the U.S has had to create puppet governments in both countries. These governments are composed of some of the most reactionary elements of the Iraqi and Afghan people. War lords, drug lords, land lords, and feudal leaders compose these elements and are most likely willing to work for the U.S. imperialists as long as they get their share of the spoils.
Would the U.S. government prefer that the level of corruption not be as high as it is? Yes! This would make its job of suppressing insurgencies easier. But it is the nature of imperialism that it has to rely on those forces in these countries to help it rule and occupy them. Progressive forces are not going to work with the U.S. in its war of terror. Instead U.S. leaders must rely on these corrupt elements. At most the U.S. can only hope that the corruption stays within acceptable bounds to the imperialists.
Also keep in mind that the local corruption in Afghanistan is only a small part of the spoils of the U.S. war of terror. It is mainly U.S. corporations who have raked in hundred of billions in this war. Whether it is Halliburton or Blackwater or other partners of the U.S. government, corruption has been part and parcel of this war. Much of the corruption had even been legalized with no bid contracts, cost plus contracts, cost overruns, etc, making it easier to rip off the American people and the people of the world.
U.S. leader will continue to make a show of fighting corruption and even occasionally bring some low-level participants into a court, but the reality is that U.S. imperialism itself is rotten and corrupt by its very nature. Do not expect the godfather to reign in his local family members for just doing what he does on a smaller scale. As long as the war of terror goes on and as long as U.S. imperialism exists, so too will massive and systemic corruption.