Last January when disaster struck in the form of a bombing at the Foroshgah-e-Borzorg Shopping Center in Afghanistan, the US government passed out grants to the store owners to restock their shelves. It was only around $300,000 for the eighty-one shopkeeper's inventory. Then they also gave a check to the shopping center's owner for another $280,000.
Kind of makes you wish that you were in Kabul instead of Panama City, Florida, where business owners on the Gulf will get even less compensation than New Orleans got after hurricane Katrina. I wonder what the name of the construction company in Afghanistan might be. A quick check revealed that all the major players are on the scene.
In January of 2008, Development Alternatives Inc. was given a contract for $43.4 million by USAID/Pakistan. The purpose of the contract was for "Capacity Building for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas Development Program." In May of the same year the contract was amended to add another $2.2 million to the contract.
In October of 2009 the Office of the Inspector General audited the program and reported the following: "Regarding the first main goal, the program has not yet achieved the goal of improving the capacity of FATA governmental institutions to govern. The audit found that little progress had been achieved to build the capacity of the FATA Secretariat and the FATA Development Authority, in part because the program got off to such a slow start.
"In October 2009, the mission asked DAI to consider preparing a 90-day demobilization plan. However, as of November 2009, no final decision had been made as to whether the DAI contract would be terminated."
It is at this point that I should mention that DAI is a subcontractor of Lockheed-Martin. DAI is busy at the behest of Lockheed Martin, aka the US government, in a number of projects. They are paying Afghan poppy farmers through USAID to grow vegetables and incentivising them by paying them in advance! They are preparing local veterinarians to treat avian flu but there are literally hundreds of contractors and subcontractors hard at work.
When the Pakistani government complained of crippling power shortages hurting their economy, the officials at USAID knew just what to do. Call GE. Deteriorating power plants have caused layoffs in Pakistan's textile industry, its largest export commodity. So USAID has an answer. Pakistanis out of work? Spend $145 million, and with the help of GE, update the Pakistani power grid.
In Nigeria DAI, through USAID, is training the military in counter terrorism. DAI is also heavily involved in financial and trade liberalization, all under the US foreign aid umbrella. While you thought we were sending baby formula and school books to needy people we were training military dictatorships to defend their oil wells from rebel groups.
Like the cozy relationship the oil companies had with the office of Mines and Minerals, USAID has become a political fund to pay off friendlies and a spigot for large American corporations to siphon off huge profits, and the best part is they don't even have to succeed. The Office of Inspector General advised DAI last year to either document the whereabouts of seventy-four laptop computers and four hundred and fifty desktop units or to reimburse USAID immediately. A year later they're still looking for them.
There was a time when America, as the largest creditor nation on Earth, had a moral obligation to provide aid to the poor and needy around the world. Even though we are no longer the world's largest creditor nation we still have a moral obligation to help struggling people with food and resources. But not to buy them power plants or mining equipment or to help them go into the insurance business.
The USAID funded a trip to Hamburg, Germany so that Afghan rug makers could show their wares at an international trade show. Of course no comment was made about child labor being used to manufacture the rugs or how debilitating the work is to the children's hands.
From the RugMark Foundation: