If you want something done right... never assign it to a government bureaucrat.
In reviewing a new book, "Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan," the Washington Post's Al Kamen highlights some of the U.S. State Department's more interesting accomplishments in assisting with reconstruction:
Two-thirds of the supposed nation-building civilians are camped out in Kabul and not out in the field;
Eleven Bolivian engineers were brought in to show how a U.S.-backed program there to build cobblestone roads could be repeated in Afghanistan. A short demonstration stretch was built. But the Afghans objected. They wanted gravel and asphalt. The cobblestones, they claimed, hurt their camels’ hooves.
Huge amounts of money were dumped into one district to employ lots of day laborers at good wages. Then the schools “suddenly closed.” The “teachers had become day laborers because the pay was better.”
There was the State Department official who had worked anti-narcotics in Bogota. He brought in two Colombian women for a 12-day visit to talk about their country’s reintegration of FARC rebels. “But they spoke no English,” Chandrasekaran writes, “and no Marine battalion wanted to host them.” So they were dispatched to meet with Afghan officials. A senior official listened to them talk through an interpreter for an hour. “’Our problems are very different,’ he said as he got up to leave. ’But I love to hear the sound of Spanish.’” ...
This book should be required reading for any diplomat or AID official going to work in any developing country.
We hear that the book has sparked a scramble in the Kabul embassy compound to compile “success stories” for publication to counter the book’s analysis.
Please. Haven’t we wasted enough money already?