Monday, January 08, 2007

McKay Gets It Right, Sort Of

Today's announcement by Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter McKay is objectively a good one:
He announced Canada would contribute $10 million toward regular weekly salaries of Afghan police officers in an effort to stop corruption and co-operation with the Taliban within the force.

"[P]roviding a national civilian police force with an adequate and regular salary is critical to helping restore security and the rule of law in Afghanistan," said MacKay in a news release.

"Our contribution will help further this objective, resulting in a more professional police force to better serve the people of Afghanistan."

A leaked U.S. government report in December said the U.S.-trained Afghan police force was riddled with corruption and incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement. Washington, which contributes $1 billion US to train the force, says the force has about 50,000 members, although the report said 70,000 were on its payroll.

In my mind, this sort of commitment should be the principle Canadian strategy as we move forward. If you can't provide Afghans with a domestic force that is credible, then you have failed. If you don't provide the funding to counter the lure of drug money, then the mission goes nowhere. Afghanistan will only succeed if the Afghan army and police force succeed, foreign occupation is only a temporary bandaid.

McKay's announcement is much more substantial than his earlier paltry commitment. My only criticism, this new expenditure is still small, when compared with the money allocated for security. The government had no problem recently committing an extra 189 million for 15 tanks and a anti-mortar unit. I would like to see the same expenditures allocated for domestic security and training. Imagine the impact if Canada dropped an additional 200 million into the police forces?

If success is really the goal, then the government should offer a bold re-construction and domestic security package. I think Canadians would support a further commitment, in the order of billions, if there was a sense the money lead somewhere. Today's announcement is hopefully one of many along the same lines, the situation demands it, unless we are content with the sadistic reality of whack a mole. Gentle applause for McKay today.


ottlib said...

Although I agree that this is a good announcement I cannot even say that it is a step in the right direction. It is more like a glance in the right direction.

As well, I do wonder about its effectiveness. One little tidbit that stuck out in the excerpt you quoted was the Aghan police force is estimated to number 50,000 but has a payroll of 70,000.

That discrepancy is probably not an honest mistake. Someone is probably siphoning off the funds for the missing 20,000 for themselves. It appears the practice is no secret either but it is not being stopped.

That kind of behaviour is what ultimately needs to be addressed or all of the money in the world will not make the Afghan mission a success.

Steve V said...

"It is more like a glance in the right direction."


Karen said...

I think "sort of" is the right term.

I think the direction is correct, but I want to know that they have done their/our homework.

I read not too long ago, that once we trained these men, (women?), when they were paid, they had to trek home to their village to give the money to their families, so they went missing for weeks.

Have we solved that?

Also, how is it being delivered? If there is a middle man/company, are they free of corruption? Will the funds go where they should?

My hope is that they will.

As it relates to this subject, I care not who is in gov't here. I want Afghani's to receive what they need. I want to know that Canada is doing something to achieve that.

Steve V said...

"Also, how is it being delivered? If there is a middle man/company, are they free of corruption? Will the funds go where they should?"

Hi knb, those are good points. I hope that we aren't simply dumping money, without some accountability. I don't think it is over-stepping our bounds if we demand to oversee how the money is actually spent. If corruption is rampant, it is our responsibility to ensure all allocations are as designed.

Anonymous said...

OK. How about this: Steve gets this one more shovelful deeper into the hole that is Afganisnam and if it doesn't produce results we demand he resigns rather than pulling more Repug solutions.

bigcitylib said...

I'd feel better if I didn't suspect some of this money was going to end up helping the Taliban purchase grenade launchers.

ottlib said...

"Hi knb, those are good points. I hope that we aren't simply dumping money, without some accountability."

Well if the money is distributed to the 70,000 on the payroll but there are only 50,000 really in the police force you can already begin to ask where the money for the missing 20,000 is going to wind up.

That is between 20 and 25%. So there are questions of where 2 to 2.5 million dollars of the 10 million will wind up right out of the gate.

Karen said...

ottlib, point taken and that it where I would hope that we've done our homework.

If it turns out otherwise, I'll get partisan again. If we've studied and found a way to direct, directly, then I'm proud of Canada.

We need balance. That is not to say that there will be no combat, but I want to see balance in our approach, that goes far beyond MacKay and the occasional visit.