The government of Afghanistan and its armed forces are almost totally dependent on outside funding and could not survive without massive outside financial support from the United States and other donors. This was confirmed in a revealing report issued last week from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report was released quietly, but it should have aroused an uproar of debate. It casts further doubt on the viability of U.S. strategy in the region. It also exposes the fecklessness of supposed budget hawks in Congress who block the flow of a few billion dollars for disaster relief here at home while ignoring the flood of tens of billions into the sink hole of failed policy in Afghanistan.
The numbers. Over the past five years the United States and other donors have funded 90 percent of the Kabul government’s budget. Total spending by the Afghan government in 2010 was $14.3 billion. Domestic revenues for the government that year were just $1.66 billion.
The GAO report notes laconically, “Customs duties and taxes such as income and property taxes provided the largest share of domestic revenues. However, domestic revenues funded only about 9 percent of Afghanistan’s estimated total public expenditures.”
Talk about deficit spending! Not to worry, though, Kabul has a permanent bailout fund, courtesy of Western taxpayers.
The United States and its allies are the paymasters of Kabul. The U.S. funds 62 percent of the total Afghan government budget and an estimated 90 percent of the costs of maintaining Kabul’s large security forces. The Afghan army and national police currently number nearly 300,000, and have expanded greatly in recent years at Washington’s insistence. The Obama administration has proposed expanding these forces even further, but has no suggestion for how such a force can be maintained without U.S. funding.
The toll. The Kabul regime is in effect a wholly owned subsidiary of the West. It is utterly incapable of being able to stand on its own. No government can be considered legitimate or sustainable if it is so completely dependent on outside funding.
Keep in mind that Kabul’s doleful financial condition comes after ten years of effort, and amidst claims of success for U.S. policy. After a decade of supposed nation building and the vast human and material sacrifice that has been poured into the country, the Kabul regime is able to fund only about 10 percent of its own budget.
In December dozens of nations will gather in Bonn to mark the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Kabul government. What have they wrought after all these years? How much longer and at what cost will Western taxpayers be expected to foot the bill?