The 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, published yesterday, finds Afghanistan at absolute rock bottom, sharing this dismal place with North Korea and Somalia. Despite the flow to Afghanistan over the last decade of hundreds of billions of dollars of Western—mostly American—economic and military aid, this country is a rotten cesspool of corruption.
There is a brutal message here for the architects of Western geo-political strategy in general and for those most responsible for the Afghan debacle in particular. It is a message that should have been learned in Iraq, which is a country that does only modestly better than Afghanistan in the graft rankings today. Despite all the diverse experiences of decades, the harsh fact is that Western powers have a zero success rate in establishing decent governance in poor countries embroiled in conflict that have no history of democratic institutions.