The war in Iraq has overshadowed and undercut the United States’ efforts to secure Afghanistan. The Taliban is growing stronger, and the terrorism threat to the United States is increasing. But last week, Congress showed a renewed commitment to Afghanistan when the Senate adopted an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act to create an office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund advocated for this step in Afghanistan in its 100 Days’ Agenda. A Special Inspector General in Afghanistan is needed to provide increased oversight to American efforts there, weed out corruption, improve and accelerate reconstruction efforts, and secure Afghanistan in order to prevent it from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
Recent reports show that corruption in Afghanistan is rampant and 35 to 40 percent of international aid to the country is badly spent, severely undermining President Karzai’s legitimacy while, in the process, wasting millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. The oversight authority of a Special Inspector General who reports to Congress will ensure that hard-earned progress is not lost and will foster transparency in the spending of taxpayers’ dollars to ensure that American priorities are met.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan should assist in accomplishing the following objectives of the overall mission of the Afghan government and international community:
- Strengthen Afghanistan’s security services and judiciary.
- Foster economic and rural development.
- Support the Afghan government’s drug control strategy.
- Defeat the Afghan insurgency.
Many of the problems in Afghanistan, as in Iraq, will not be solved by military means alone. Greater investment in the Afghan economy and in reconstruction efforts is essential to creating a stable, democratic state.
The Afghan government should take the lead in driving its economic development, but the American oversight that a Special Inspector General would provide is essential in order to reduce corruption and restore the legitimacy of the government so that it can better take on the task of rebuilding.
Getting Afghanistan right is critical to preventing it from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. The United States must increase its own commitment and oversight to this troubled mission in order to shore up the strength of the Afghan state. Congress has taken the first step in approving the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.