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There has been a lull in my posts due to an emergency in India. My heart grieves for that family and their loss; I wish them strength in all things to come. In the meantime, I am lucky to be able to spend this time with my own family, since I am often quite far away from them.

This congressional investigation to be released today includes most of the information that I would provide if someone, like Obama, asked me about US programs in Afghanistan.

  • Aid money to stabilize areas is a short-term fix
  • There is little evidence that any positive results are sustainable
  • Enormous cash flows overwhelm and distort local culture and economies
  • There is little oversight, particularly more so in Afghan-run projects, which encourages corruption and mis-use of funds
  • The “single most important step” is to stop paying Afghans “inflated salaries” — often 10 or more times the going rate — to work for foreign governments and contractors

It’s good to see that this information is making it’s way to US policy makers and the public. I just hope they will listen and make changes accordingly.

I learned recently that the top of the Afghan government is structured in an interesting way. I knew that the government consisted of the same 3 branches (executive, legislative, and judicial). And based on that, I figured that it was set up much like the U.S. system. But in fact there are some interesting nuances.

President Hamid KARZAI (since 7 December 2004)

First Vice President Mohammad FAHIM Khan (since 19 November 2009)

Second Vice President Abdul Karim KHALILI (since 7 December 2004).

Executive branch:

Notice that – Second Vice President? Afghanistan has 2 VPs! And they do not run with the President in the elections (like U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents). Instead, they are appointed by the President, and that appointment can be withdrawn at anytime.

Another interesting thing is that Karzai is Pashtu, Fahim is Tajik, and Khalili is Hazara. While this gives 3 major ethnic groups some sense of representation in the government, in the extremely unlikely event that something would happen to Karzai, there’s a high chance that the country would end up in civil war, again. Neither VP (or ethic group) is going to let the other take power. The various ethnic groups would never be happy with their representation.

It’s very difficult to appease all of the various parties involved in politics here. It’s debatable whether the current system works.

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