KABUL, Afghanistan — A U.S. report released Wednesday said that widespread corruption in Afghanistan has undermined efforts to rebuild the country and urged the U.S. mission to make anticorruption efforts a top priority.
The U.S. government's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said corruption fueled grievances against the Afghan government and channeled material support to the insurgency.
The United States, meanwhile, contributed to the growth of corruption by being too slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem as it injected tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy, said SIGAR.
The report, entitled: "Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan," suggests the U.S. government should have viewed anticorruption as an essential part of its goals after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
SIGAR's report quoted Ryan Crocker, who re-opened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and served again as ambassador in 2011-2012 as saying that "the ultimate point of failure for our efforts wasn't an insurgency. It was the weight of endemic corruption."
"The corruption lens has got to be in place at the outset, and even before the outset, in the formulation of reconstruction and development strategy, because once it gets to the level I saw, it's somewhere between unbelievably hard and outright impossible to fix," Crocker added.
The report further noted that U.S. policies and practices were partly to blame for the growth of corruption. In 2009 and 2010, the emerging concern was that poor U.S. oversight, procurement, and contracting practices were enabling corrupt behavior, it said. Without sufficient controls on U.S. funds, millions of dollars in U.S. reconstruction funds for Afghanistan were being wasted.
"In Afghanistan today, corruption remains an enormous challenge to security, political stability, and development," SIGAR said.