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Stop! Tom Friedman said something smart, about Arab world, Afghanistan, Pakistan

This blog and this author have given poor Mr. Friedman grief in the past for babbling nonsense. So it’s only fair that we give America’s favorite random idea generator credit when he comes up with a surprisingly cogent paragraph: When one looks across the Arab world today at the stunning spontaneous democracy uprisings, it is[…..]

Posted in Aid debates, In the news, Military aid | Tagged | 14 Comments

In memoriam, Linda Norgrove, humanitarian in Afghanistan

The New York Times reports: A Scottish aid worker who was taken hostage two weeks ago by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan was killed by her captors early Saturday during an unsuccessful rescue raid, according to the British Foreign Office. The aid worker, Linda Norgrove, 36, was regional director of a jobs program financed by[…..]

Posted in In the news | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Aid workers murdered in Afghanistan

UPDATE: response to criticisms about mentioning humanitarian neutrality issue (see end of post) The New York Times reports today Returning home from a three-week trek on foot to deliver free medical care to the remotest regions of the country, the aid workers — six Americans, a Briton, a German and four Afghans — had just finished[…..]

Posted in In the news | 5 Comments

At least there’s one good nation-builder for Afghanistan

As readers of this blog know, I am deeply opposed to the military escalation and deluded attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan. Yet some individuals can do good even in the middle of an overall bad policy, and if there is any one such individual from the outside I would bet on, it would probably be Clare[…..]

Posted in Grand plans and aid targets | 13 Comments

Will Aid Escalation Finally Crash in the Mountains of Afghanistan?

There has been a remarkable escalation in the scale and intrusiveness of aid interventions over the years (this was one of the major conclusions of my survey paper on aid to Africa).

It seems to be reaching the reductio al absurdum in the current debate on whether to escalate US intervention in Afghanistan.

Let’s review the record:

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Grand plans and aid targets, Military aid | Tagged | 9 Comments

Won’t shut up about Afghanistan

Transitionland had a thoughtful response to my cri de coeur on Afghanistan yesterday. Among her recommendations for improving things: (1) Stop the air strikes that are killing civilians, (2) Crack down on corrupt contractors to USAID, (3) Stop supporting Afghan warlords who are homicidal and/or corrupt. So, after years of experimentation, we can now start[…..]

Posted in In the news | 17 Comments


Maybe I have a biased selection, but it seems like every sensible economist, political scientist, development worker, and journalist that I know thinks our current course in Afghanistan can have only one outcome — disaster. Disaster for Americans, for our NATO allies, AND for Afghans.

Why is nobody listening?

Posted in In the news | 12 Comments

Is there any way that our efforts will end well in Afghanistan?

Great FT column by Clive Crook The forthcoming civilian surge …. Most westerners in Afghanistan live inside a security bubble. If they leave their compounds at all – and many never do – they drive around in armoured Toyota Land Cruisers from one fortified location to the next. Again, the perception is that the foreigners’[…..]

Posted in In the news | Comments Off on Is there any way that our efforts will end well in Afghanistan?

Development before security…is a killer

In an article that just might have been overshadowed by bigger news out of the “AfPak” region Sunday night, the New York Times reported on USAID’s project to build the Gardez-Khost Highway in Afghanistan. This 64-mile stretch of road meant to connect the two mountainous southeastern provinces of Paktia and Khost is shoddily constructed and[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, In the news, Military aid | 21 Comments

All Cups, No Tea

Another humanitarian hero has tumbled off his pedestal.

It remains to be seen whether Greg Mortenson, author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” will be able to avert a total reputation meltdown. But last Sunday’s 60 Minutes broadcast and a thorough exposé by Jon Krakauer provide convincing evidence for some serious allegations…

Posted in Accountability and transparency, Aid policies and approaches, In the news | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments
  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

    "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken

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