mandag 30. august 2021

Afghanistan collapsed because corruption had hollowed out the state

When the Taliban swept into Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, the militant group faced almost no resistance. The country’s now former president, Ashraf Ghani, fled to the United Arab Emirates, accused by one of his own ambassadors of stealing $169m (£123m) on his way out – and the Afghan military melted away without a fight. President Joe Biden blamed the Afghan people for the Taliban’s conquest. “We gave them every chance,” he said. “We couldn’t provide them the will to fight for their future.”

But blaming Afghan citizens, some of whom may be tortured or killed in the near future, for their country’s collapse is wrong and immoral. The Taliban victory is the product of the corruption and cronyism of elites – especially senior US military personnel and Afghan politicians.

Corruption in Afghanistan has long been an open secret among international observers and its own citizens. In 2020, Transparency Internationalranked Afghanistan among the top 20 most corrupt countries in the world. Reports of US government funds flowing into the pockets of warlords and criminal syndicates were common, while nepotism marred public trust in successive administrations. If the Afghan people – and its military – refused to fight for the state, it was, in part, because they had no faith in it.