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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.


Could the West have ever won in Afghanistan?

Nation-building is difficult. Some say the country was too tribal, too traditional to become a functioning democracy. One Man One Vote Was Never a Starter. But building a functioning state + economy was never attempted – says Sarah Chayes who spent 10 years as an Adviser to the US military leadership. She agrees that the Taliban regime was authoritarian but it was never corrupt. According to a survey in Integrity, Watch corruption was worse in Government Controlled Areas than in Taliban areas.

Chayes blames the US-led coalition. “We had all the power + enforced + enabled the corruption in the Afghan Government.” The US Congress’s own Special Inspector General says the US Government made “choices that increased corruption + reduced the effectiveness of programmes.”

But, as an FT article today states, building a functioning state was not doomed to failure. “The US + its allies could have acted differently. They could have distributed money as individual cash payments rather than installing local gatekeepers to the resources. They could have introduced strong transparency, monitoring + supervision mechanisms. They could have swiftly imposed sanctions on corrupt officials at all levels.” The West didn’t. The West’s efforts were bound to fail and we have seen the consequences in nightly television bulletins of chaos at Kabul Airport

Why did corruption flourish? Here there is a lesson from China’s daily campaign against corruption at all levels of government. It has to be relentless, across the board, everywhere, all the time. Corruption saps the spirit of the people as they see the Corrupt enjoying their amassed funds. The Corrupt have to be arrested, tried in a court of law and punished without fear or favour.

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