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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Aid to Afghanistan... I'm sure Hillary is talking about attacking the symptoms rather than the disease...
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aid to Afghanistan... I'm sure Hillary is talking about attacking the symptoms rather than the disease...


i read this as i sit here in kabul, working for a "civilian" aid program...
The billions of dollars spent in U.S. aid to Afghanistan over the past seven years have been largely wasted, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday.

"For those of you who have been on the ground in Afghanistan, you have seen with your own eyes that a lot of these aid programs don't work," she said. "There are so many problems with them. There are problems of design, there are problems of staffing, there are problems of implementation, there are problems of accountability. You just go down the line."


Since 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $5 billion in Afghanistan, according to figures on the agency's Web site. Clinton oversees USAID, which has boasted a number of success stories, including building hundreds of schools, distributing 60 million textbooks and vaccinating 90 percent of children against polio. But a report by Oxfam last week charged that much of the U.S. aid in Afghanistan is wasted on consulting costs, subcontractor fees and duplication.

Clinton's blunt comments on past aid programs -- which appeared to also indict the broader international effort -- will probably raise the bar for the administration's aid programs. "We are scrubbing every single civilian program," she said. "This is part of my mission as secretary of state. We are looking at every single dollar as to how it's spent and where it's going and trying to track the outcomes. We want to see real results."

i would be the very last person to argue that aid programs in afghanistan have been a resounding success... far, far from it... however, i would also be the last one to voice one iota of confidence that those in washington have any ability whatsoever to discriminate between the aid programs that have added value and those that haven't... so, what hillary says means to me is that they're going to jump in and "scrub" programs wholesale in the time-honored tradition of attacking the symptoms rather than the disease...

also, it's definitely worth noting that she doesn't mention the much more staggering sums "wasted" on military expenditures...

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