How much money is a human life worth? In Afghanistan it can range from $1500-$2500, the value of a few paychecks for the average worker here in the United States.
According to The Washington Post, US Army units now fighting in the Helmand province have instituted a "compensation" system that callously tries to make up for the continuing bloodshed and occupation of Afghanistan by throwing money, (what amounts to very little when compared to most wrongful death lawsuit settlements in the US) at local family members of civilian victims of NATO strikes and to owners of damaged property.
The article states:
The death of a child or adult is worth $1,500-$2,500, loss of limb and other injuries $600-$1,500, a damaged or destroyed vehicle $500-$2,500, and damage to a farmer's fields $50-$250.- Advertisement -
The system is also useful for gathering intelligence on insurgents, says 1st Sgt. Gene Hicks of Tacoma, Washington.
The military pays villagers in local currency for information about the location of roadside bombs as well as "where they've seen people at, where they've seen people moving, where they've seen people shooting from," Hicks said.
What's remarkable, other than the amounts paid and the fact that a vehicle could be priced the same as a human life, is how ripe for abuse such a strategy is.The article mentions very little of what safeguards are put in place to keep locals with personal axes to grind against their own enemies, or just for financial gain, from falsely turning each other in for "aiding the Taliban." Nor does it explain how claims are investigated to prevent locals from committing fraud by destroying their own property for profit or placing bombs themselves on roadsides in order to report the location to the military and collect the money.
The article continues...
"It's not an exact science, but some Afghan civilians in the area of Badula Qulp, northeast of the contested Taliban stronghold of Marjah, have been quick to exploit it. In any casualty case, the Americans are mindful that they might be asked to compensate for the death of an insurgent, rather than a civilian."
Another article from The Nation in November of 2009 titled, "How the US Funds the Taliban," revealed how the US Military pays money to former Taliban members to "protect" American supply routes:
"In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban.