“There’s an odor of mendacity throughout the Afghanistan issue. . . mendacity and hubris,” Sopko said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The problem is there is a disincentive, really, to tell the truth. We have created an incentive to almost require people to lie.”
As an example, he said that US officials have lied in the past about the number of Afghan children enrolled in schools — a key marker of progress touted by the Obama administration — even though they “knew the data was bad.”
Sopko cited a 2014 agency newsletter, where the then-USAID administrator stated: “Today, 3 million girls and 5 million boys are enrolled in school—compared to just 900,000 when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan,” he said.
The US sent personnel into Afghanistan who did not know the difference between al-Qaeda and Taliban and who lacked any substantive knowledge of Afghan society, Sopko said.
He also said that the abuses committed by coalition-aligned warlords drove many Afghans into the arms of the resurgent Taliban.
“For all the lives and treasure the US and coalition partners have expended in Afghanistan, and for Afghans themselves who have suffered the most from decades of violence, the very least we can do is to learn from our successes and failures,” he said.
“Oversight is mission-critical to any successful reconstruction and development program in Afghanistan,” he added.
He said that in the future, “we need to recognize vital importance of addressing corruption from outset. This means taking into account the amount of assistance the host country can absorb and ensuring that agencies can more effectively monitor assistance.”
“While honesty and transparency are always important, when government agencies overstate the positive and overlook flaws in their methodologies or accountability mechanisms, it has real public policy implications,” he said.
On peace, Spoko said: “We know that a stronger Afghan economy is necessary to last peace and stability, and, without it, US reconstruction efforts are largely unsustainable.”
This comes as according to the reports, Taliban Chief, Mullah Haibadullah Akhund has recently agreed to a 7 to 10 days ‘ceasefire’ to end the deadlock of the peace talks between Taliban and the US delegation.