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Report: Corruption Substantially Undermined US Mission in Afghanistan

FILE - Workers are seen at an area under construction at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 4, 2012.
FILE - Workers are seen at an area under construction at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 4, 2012.

Widespread corruption in Afghanistan has substantially undermined U.S. efforts to rebuild the county, according to a report released Wednesday

The U.S. government's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko said corruption has fueled grievances against the Afghan government and channeled material support to the insurgency from the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sopko's report says corruption remains an enormous challenge to security, political stability, and development, and urges the U.S. mission to make anticorruption efforts a top priority.

The report offers a number of recommendations for implementing a U.S. interagency anticorruption strategy in Afghanistan.

Although the United States injected tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy, it contributed to the growth of corruption by being slow to recognize the magnitude of the problem, the role of corrupt patronage networks, and the ways in which corruption threatened core U.S. goals. It said certain U.S. policies and practices exacerbated the problem.

‘Endemic’ problem

The report titled, "Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan,'' quoted Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who re-opened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul soon after the September 11, 2001, attacks and served again as ambassador in 2011-2012 (and who is a member of Broadcasting Board of Governors which oversees U.S. international broadcasting, including the Voice of America) 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 said.