The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, in an interview with Breitbart News, said the U.S. has been “drowning” Afghanistan in money, wasting millions and creating conditions for corruption.
“You can drown somebody in goodness,” Sopko told Breitbart. “It’s the comedy of the absurd when it comes down to [American] assistance [to Afghanistan] and we are just drowning Afghans in money. And when you drown somebody in money, you can’t be surprised that some of it gets wasted.”
Sopko said the American people should care about the Afghan war as a natural security issue, but should also demand accountability for their government’s reckless use of tax dollars in the conflict.
The office of the SIGAR is charged with overseeing reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, conducting audits and investigations to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. To date, the U.S. has appropriated a total of some $700 billion for the war, including the $120 billion spent on “reconstruction” which Sopko’s office is tasked to track and account for.
More than anything, Sopko said he is most concerned by the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which puts limits on safe travel and hinders his office’s ability to carry out its duties. A SIGAR report published earlier this year found the U.S-backed Afghan government controlled less than 60 percent of the country (SIGAR’s most recent quarterly report, issued on Sunday, shows a similar figure), while the Taliban and other militant groups hold onto an ever-growing chunk of territory.
The inspector explained how his job often ruffles the feathers of U.S. officials, who are hesitant to rock the boat.
“Our job here is to highlight problems and try to fix them and, as a result, we break a lot of crockery and we’re not liked by some people,” Sopko said. “A lot of people like the status quo.”
Sopko put blame on both the American and Afghan governments for the egregious waste the Afghan war has brought, but said nobody in either government has faced consequences for their actions.
“The lack of accountability has shocked me the most,” Sopko said. “Nobody is [held] responsible for wasting taxpayer’s dollars.”
Indeed, earlier this year it was revealed that the Pentagon wasted up to $28 million on uniforms for the Afghan National Army. Though just 2.1 percent of Afghanistan is covered by forests, the Pentagon allowed the Afghan defense minister to pick out a dark, forest green camouflage pattern, potentially making the uniforms worse than useless. For a sniper, dark green contrasts nicely against the light tan backdrop present in most areas of the country.
The useless pattern, moreover, was purchased from a private firm at a cost much higher than other, more effective options, dumping yet more tax dollars into the black hole that is the Afghan war.
“My concern is what if the minister of defense liked purple, or liked pink?” Sopko indignantly asked in response to the decision.
In another incident, among many others, the SIGAR office found the DoD wasted nearly $500 million on transport aircraft for the Afghans, which were found “unfit for use” and scrapped for “pennies on the pound.”
Despite push back from those wary of challenging the status quo, Sopko said he has support.
“I do have a lot of support,” the inspector said. “A lot of the people who have served and a lot of people who have done policy issues realize somebody needs to save us and that’s what my job is.”
Sopko is, however, somewhat of a Pollyanna regarding American goals in Afghanistan, now America’s longest-running conflict, maintaining that victory is still possible even after more than 15 years of failure.
“Victory is when we can walk away and leave a government in place that can keep the terrorists out,” he said. “That’s the stated reason why we’re there.”
While the evidence doesn’t appear to favor that optimistic assessment, more work like Sopko’s is nonetheless sorely needed in Afghanistan and all of the other ongoing American conflicts, where waste and fraud have been rampant.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.