Taliban Pay-Day

It appears contractors hired by the U.S. for work in Afghanistan have been buying off the Taliban for the safety of their employees as well as their projects. At the same time, it has been reported that U.S. lawmakers are buying off other U.S. lawmakers for safe passage of the Defense Appropriations bill and other important legislation.

Lawmakers call their actions compromise. Contractors call theirs lifesaving.

Contractor money may be funding the Taliban’s war against the U.S., killing U.S. Marines and soldiers.

Not even lawmakers can trump that one.

U.S. and international firms have been hired for transportation projects and road and bridge construction in Afghanistan. Gear has got to get to U.S. forces in a nation where roads (when you can find one) are a luxury. Contracts total in the billions of dollars, and the work can be dangerous. But it seems contractors and their private security chiefs have broken the “Welcome to Afghanistan” code: First, meet with the local guy in charge. If it seems Local Leader Guy is a gun-toting Taliban Bad Man, the next step is to pose this query: “So, how much for you to leave us alone so we can get this work done?”

A House subcommittee is looking into the allegations of “protection rackets.” Love it or hate it, the practice makes sense. Protection money may mean roads get built. The projects create jobs, all be they short-term. As any Afghan will tell you jobs are the nation’s number one issue. They are the one path out of Afghanistan’s mind-blowing poverty and away from Taliban enticements.

For all its creativity and daring, these pay-offs have had one lethal catch: Aside from posing long-term problems for non Afghans and future shake-downs, it appears the Taliban may be funding their operations against the U.S. with contractor (U.S.) dollars. Officials finally have a pretty good idea how the Taliban in the east has remained funded and so well-armed.

Afghanistan has been buying off the Taliban and other factions for years, including through seats at the national table. Great work if you can qualify and fabulous vantage from which to fund and direct thugs back in the ‘hood. What about those so-called “rape laws”?

Given the ways of Afghanistan, are the contractor pay-offs so unreasonable?

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