New York Times columnist David Brooks not too long ago wrote a column titled Smart Power Setback, criticizing the way the international aid system functions in Afghanistan. While acknowledging a few significant achievements in education and healthcare, he argued that “the influx of aid has, in many cases, created dependency, fed corruption, contributed to insecurity and undermined the host government’s capacity to oversee sustainable programs.”
He’s absolutely right. These unintended consequences of pumping large amounts of aid into Afghanistan could have been avoided, if only the country’s nation-partners had listened to the Afghan people. In conference after conference since 2002, President Hamid Karzai appealed to the international community to help build the capacity of the country’s post-war state institutions. The idea was that, over time, these institutions would gradually gain the needed capacity to absorb international aid, and be able to design and implement their own aid programs. This concept continues to be overwhelmingly supported by the Afghan people.
To read the full story
M. Ashraf Haidari is the Deputy Assistant National Security Advisor and Senior Policy Advisor of Afghanistan’s National Security Council.