February 13, 2012, - 2:48 pm
The United States spent gazillions of dollars and hundreds of American soldiers’ lives to build roads for unappreciative Afghans, who play both sides and mostly remain loyal to the Taliban. Most of the roads were never finished, and it was all a giant waste of time, money, and lives in order to build “goodwill” that never materialized among the Afghan Muslims. The uselessness and frustration over building these roads and the Americans’ lives lost or wounded are documented in two movies, “Restrepo,” and “Where Soldiers Come From,” both of which I saw but was remiss in not yet reviewing here (I will soon). The Wall Street Journal did an in-depth story on what a waste the program is, and it’s just as my jaded mind thought. But here’s the best part of where your money in Afghanistan is going, something like “Midnight Basketball for Muslim Chicks”: “flower literacy.”
I kid you not. We are spending money to teach Afghan Muslimas “floral literacy.” No, it’s not instructing Muslim women in the appreciation of roses and gardenias. Or even poppies, for something beyond their illicit drug value. It’s to teach the Afghan women how to make floral arrangements . . . which I’m sure is in high demand in the mountains and caves of the Korengal Valley. Attention, USAID, they live in Helmand Province, NOT Hollywood or La Jolla. And, anyway, I heard the pink jihad club of gay Afghan Muslims called. They don’t want the competition. Business is already so slow, as there aren’t enough goat and Bacha Bazi parties to go around. I’ve seen photos of some Afghan women trying to sell garish floral arrangements to Italian soldiers (who weren’t buying), but they’ve pulled out, and when all Western soldiers are gone, the flower biz will dry up. This isn’t exactly “teaching them to fish” or modernizing them.
U.S. taxpayers paid Afghan entrepreneur Ajmal Hasas millions of dollars as part of a plan to win over villages in the country’s insurgent heartlands. . . .
Mr. Hasas was a point man in a $400 million U.S. Agency for International Development campaign to build as much as 1,200 miles of roads in some of Afghanistan’s most remote and turbulent places.
Three years and nearly $270 million later, less than 100 miles of gravel road have been completed, according to American officials. More than 125 people were killed and 250 others were wounded in insurgent attacks aimed at derailing the project, USAID said. The agency shut down the road-building effort in December. . . .
A typical gravel road in Afghanistan is supposed to cost about $290,000 per mile, according to USAID. It cost American taxpayers about $2.8 million for each mile of gravel road completed by IRD [International Relief and Development, the American non-profit that ran the program], making them the most expensive miles of road ever built by the U.S. government in Afghanistan.
Less than half the $269 million spent on the project went to actual road construction, IRD officials say. A quarter of the funds were paid to IRD administration and staff. About 15% was spent on security, and 8% was allocated to the community-development projects IRD said were central to the success of the project.
As part of the Strategic Roads Project, USAID set aside millions of dollars in the contract to set up small soap factories, run reading programs for illiterate villagers, dig wells and teach sewing to Afghan women—all with the expectation that it would win American troops good will.
But the community program was hobbled when IRD put a halt to awarding grants in southeastern Afghanistan for eight months after discovering that IRD staff were falsifying reports and exaggerating the impact of the development projects, according to former IRD workers. After revamping the staff and project, IRD resumed handing out grants for things like “flower literacy” programs that taught Afghan women how to make flower arrangements.
Hey, maybe we should give ’em green cards and citizenship in the U.S. I hear Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and someone might need a flower arrangement handmade by the craftswomen of the mountains in Afghanistan.
So chic, so unique. Your tax dollars at work.
Tags: Afghanistan, Ajmal Hasas, American soldiers, Flower Literacy, International Relief and Development, IRD, Islam, Midnight Basketball for Muslim Chicks, roads projects, Strategic Roads Project, USAID