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‘US has no clue what Afghan people want’

Published time: April 02, 2014 10:55

AFP Photo / Farshad Usyan

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Maybe the Taliban is not what the Afghan people want, but the US is not in touch with Afghans and it is not in any type of position of special knowledge to understand them, Karen Kitkowski, retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, told RT.

RT: You’ve got a military background... what do you make of the Afghan army's chances against the Taliban?

Karen Kitkowski: From what we hear and understand, not very good. It is not really clear what the Afghan army itself would be fighting for once the American money is withdrawn, which is going to happen. Countries have to decide for themselves how they want to be. The Taliban has an objective, whether we agree with it or not, they have an objective. And if you have an objective that is a big start on winning the battle.

RT: The Taliban will have that overwhelming decision, dimly by force how the country should be. Does that necessarily represent what the general population of Afghanistan wants?

KW: It is not clear. Most people in this country and certainly people in the State Department and the US military have no clue what the Afghan people want. I don’t think we are in touch with Afghan people. While it may be unfortunate, it may be that the Taliban is not what they want and maybe that is what they are going to get anyway. It is not something that we are in any type of position of special knowledge to understand what the people want. When we withdraw the house of cards will fall, it is already falling. The remaining force - Taliban, political forces, whatever they may be, clans forces - that understand what they want will take what is left and build what they want with it and that is just how it is going to be.

RT: As for the billions lost in rebuilding Afghanistan. What could have been done differently?

KW: I worked in acquisition for some time in the middle part of my career in the air force and we had a saying: ‘What gets measured, gets done.’ And all of the money that the US government put out towards Afghanistan projects, what was being measured was contract awards, many of which were to US companies, many of which were to allied companies, not indigenous Afghan enterprises. And we were measuring awards of front-loaded dollars. And we did very well with that, $100 billion worth is put out mostly through that mechanism. That is what we measured. We did not measure and we do not measure, because nation-building is not something we have the slightest clue how to do in this country, the effective outcomes. We did not measure what is sustainable, what is lasting.

What in affect we are doing is building new targets. How many schools and roads have we built for how many times over? Once built, it becomes a new target for the Taliban or some other unhappy faction in Afghanistan. So we measured contract awards and that is what we did, hundreds of billions of dollars worth.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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