Well, the numbers are in on aid pledges for Afghanistan. The US pledged $300 million for the current fiscal year and “more later”. That’s pathetic. We pledged less than 20% of what the UN says Afghanistan needs this year (I’m sure the Afghan government will claim it needs more), and provided no hard numbers on how we plan to follow up. What happens in the years to come when Afghanistan slips back into obscurity? Can we expect the government to dole out serious money to the Afghans in between building new ships in Pascagoula on behalf of Trent Lott and providing tax breaks for corporations that dump campaign contributions on Congress? If Hamid Karzai were really smart, he’d spend a good sized chunk of his aid money on buying off US Congressmen. No matter how corrupt Afghan’s government is, they’ll still get as much help as possible from our government — just ask Ken Lay.
Update: a reader pointed out that at least some of the money we pledged is coming out of the money that we had already allocated for refugee aid to Afghanistan, so it’s not even like we’re coming through with as much as you might have originally thought. The New York Times has the details:
Bush administration officials said that the $296 million that Secretary Powell announced today would come from a reallocation of funds already appropriated and so could be delivered quickly. About $111 million is left from $320 million in aid that was not needed for Afghan refugees.
The proportion of the American contribution is somewhat below the typical pattern of the United States’ contributions