Every once in awhile, the news provides new information with relevant and insightful analysis. Normally, however, the news is a lot of regurgitation, scare mongering, and validation of public opinion.

This article I saw recently fits squarely in the last category for me. It has been said before, it points to the half of aid projects with problems in one province, and it validates the public sentiment that money being spent here is a waste. I’m not disagreeing with their analysis. I know plenty of people who worked on projects (such as the Kabul River cleanup) only to return 6 or 9 months later to see things regressed back to their original state.

The problem is that the kind of large scale change that the US wants throughout the country (e.g. end corruption, provide a functional government and private sector, ensure security for citizens while limiting the ability of rogue/terrorists groups to organize, create gender equality, reduce poverty…) are all long-term, large-scale endeavors. The US hasn’t committed to really managing this type of change.

The assumption of the U.S. operating model is that you can fix a problem by throwing money at it. This is rarely the case. More likely, the sudden influx in money makes the situation worse in unanticipated ways.