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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

22/06/2009

I’m off early in the morning to NYC for a wedding, but wanted to quickly draw your attention to this piece on development gone wrong in Afghanistan.

Low point… USAID refusing to subsidize cotton as an alternative to poppy because, ‘U.S. law prevents the government from aiding foreign cotton producers because doing so could help them compete against American growers.’

But apparently helping the Taliban to compete against US soldiers is ok. Or at least what America was inadvertently doing according to Richard Holbrooke, who thankfully has more experience with development work than local Pashtun culture.

“In my experience of 40-plus years — I started out working for AID in Vietnam — this was the single most wasteful, most ineffective program that I had ever seen,” he said in a recent interview. “It wasn’t just a waste of money. . . . This was actually a benefit to the enemy. We were recruiting Taliban with our tax dollars.”

The rest of the article is equally devastating.