Winston Churchill famously said that the only thing worse than fighting a war with allies is fighting one without allies. How true; but like many truths, the full meaning of the insight only becomes clear when one masters the details. It is both good and necessary to talk about allies and alliances in theoretical and strategic terms. But we need to keep in mind that alliances are not self-executing relationships, that below the lofty peaks of policy and theory is the nitty-gritty of actually getting these relationships to work.The wars during the Bush Administration in Afghanistan and Iraq furnish illuminating examples of this task. In addition to my duties as the Pentagon’s Comptroller, the Secretary of Defense made me the lead in efforts to acquire allied support for the stabilization, reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. In this role I not only had to navigate relationships with a diverse set of American friends and allies but, just as daunting if not more so, I had to contend with difficult and often dysfunctional relationships within the U.S. government. While I was not watching my back in Washington, then, I was America’s well-dressed supplicant to the allies, the traveling man with the tin cup. On January 19, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued a detailed memo to senior DoD staff outlining his views on the direction of the War on Terror. As part of that memo, Rumsfeld focused on his views about coalitions and the kind of support he expected from allies and friends. “The mission must determine the coalition; coalitions must not determine the mission”, he famously wrote; “missions must not be dumbed down to the lowest common denominator by coalition pressure.” On the other hand, he added, “the U.S. wants help from all countries, in every way they consider appropriate; we recognize that to get maximum support, it is best for each country, rather than the U.S., to characterize how and in what ways they are assisting the overall effort.” Finding that help—and, despite Rumsfeld’s disclaimer, ensuring that help was indeed supportive of the mission—became one of my major tasks for the remainder of my time in the Bush Administration. A few days after Rumsfeld circulated his January 19 memo, I joined him in a meeting that the President convened concerning Rumsfeld’s agenda for Pentagon “transformation.” That agenda that had been accelerated both by 9/11 and by the campaign in Afghanistan that had demonstrated the importance of special forces as a key element in U.S. military strategy. While Afghanistan appeared to validate a major part of Rumsfeld’s “transformation” agenda, I noted that Rumsfeld’s January 19 memo said surprisingly little about Afghanistan despite on-going U.S. operations there, and that nothing in the President’s remarks a few days later indicated that he was contemplating employing large numbers of land forces for the stabilization or reconstruction of Afghanistan, or of any country in the near future or, for that matter, any time at all. Nonetheless, by the time we met with the President, I had become preoccupied with finding additional material support for U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the Gulf region. This aspect of my job had begun at the end of October 2001, when I led a group of officials to London for meetings with our senior British defense colleagues. Our purpose was not to ask the British to contribute more than they already were, but to sound them out about joining with us to approach other countries for assistance in kind—that is, military equipment and logistical support. My group put on the table a full-blown proposal for a joint effort. We hoped that just as the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff were developing a system for identifying its weapons system and logistical requirements, the U.K. Ministry of Defense would do the same. Once both sets of requirements were identified, a joint U.S.-U.K. team would consolidate the requirements, and the two governments would then develop a methodology for allocating in-kind contributions between the two countries. The next step would be to approach other states for support. I proposed a two-tiered system. Tier 1 countries would be those expected to make a significant contribution of assistance in kind or countries that had already offered to assist. This group included Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Singapore and Brunei. We knew that the British government had excellent contacts in Brunei and hoped it would add other countries with which it had similar close ties to the Tier 1 list. Once the list was formulated, joint U.S.-U.K. teams would visit these countries in late November and December to seek assistance. Tier 2 countries would be identified in December and they, too, would be visited by the joint teams. The British certainly were engaged fully in Afghanistan. They had launched aerial attacks against the Taliban and al-Qaeda alongside those of the United States, and their special forces continued to operate alongside our own. Nevertheless, nothing came of my efforts. London made some half-hearted attempts to find resources to support the operation, but the British were too preoccupied with the joint arrangements they had already established with us to be willing to set up yet another channel of communications and coordination. (I did not give up on the idea of working with another country to get support from third countries, but it did not come to fruition until two years later, and then not in support of operations in Afghanistan but of those in Iraq, and not with Britain’s Ministry of Defense but instead with Spain’s.) I had been authorized to tell the British that I was the single U.S. point of contact for material contributions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, but in fact no formal action had yet been taken to back up that claim. Early in December 2001, however, Secretary Rumsfeld formally designated me as “the single point of contact with respect to all matters involving solicitation, receipt and administration of assistance-in-kind defense related contributions.” The Deputies’ Committee, which consisted of the Deputy Secretaries of all the agencies represented on the National Security Council, ratified Rumsfeld’s decision, naming me coordinator for all government-wide efforts to obtain assistance in kind in support of our military operations. At the same time, the deputies formally assigned the Pentagon’s Joint Staff Planning Office, the J-5, as the lead for coordination of combat forces and the State Department as the lead coordinator for humanitarian assistance. Formal designation is everything in government. Without it, one cannot assign tasks to other offices, one can only ask for favors. Once named, however, I was in a position to work on an official basis with other parts of the Defense Department as well as with other Executive Branch agencies to invigorate the search for international material support for our efforts. Of course, having a formal designation is no guarantee of success. I needed to maintain good relations with my counterparts elsewhere inside and outside the Pentagon; it was precisely the absence of such good relations that flawed the Iraq operation two years later. I was fortunate that I did get along with others in the department, and it did not hurt that they needed me as Comptroller to fund their own programmed budgets. My office’s initial actions were to set up a mechanism whereby formal authorization, acceptance and reporting of a foreign contribution all could take place quickly, in accordance with the CENTCOM commander’s needs. As a result we were able to grant official approval to CENTCOM’s first two requests—to accept $64 million in assistance from Japan, and $1.3 million from Norway—within 24 hours of receiving them. My office also began to develop a list of the kinds of support DoD needed from friends and allies in the coalition. The lengthy list reflected the lengthy logistics train that stretched thousands of miles between the United States and the troops involved in the operation. Topping the list was access—in addition to permission to use foreign airports and seaports for moving troops, equipment and supplies, the U.S. military also needed overflight rights and waivers of port, customs, landing and other fees, among other things. The Pentagon also needed the wherewithal to operate in those ports to which access had been granted. That meant obtaining strategic lift to supplement U.S. airlift and sealift forces. It meant asking host states to provide and operate cargo-handling equipment as well as cargo-holding facilities for materiel delivered both by air and by sea. Host states also were asked to provide parking and servicing of aircraft; security at all facilities; bus, truck, rail and other ground carrier services; containers and pallets; and the use of their roads. The Defense Department also required base-logistics support, which included aviation fuel, other fuels and lubricants (commonly termed POL, for petroleum, oil, and lubricants). It needed help with fuel storage and delivery; vehicle maintenance; base security (as opposed to security at dockside or on runways); and nuclear, biological and chemical detection and decontamination equipment. On an even more mundane but equally important level, it needed office supplies, food, dining facilities, potable water, showers and other hygienic facilities, housing, medical services, even veterinary facilities for our K-9 corps dogs. The list was not sexy; it was merely essential. It is the sort of list that senior civilian decision-makers often overlook, but without which their designs and aims will come to nothing. Many governments were prepared to offer something, but these offers tended to be what they wished to contribute rather than what the command needed. When faced with a request for needed support or materiel, some governments were inclined to respond with relatively small contributions, closer to that of Norway than to that of Japan (and $64 million was not a large sum for that wealthy country). The strategy, therefore, was to focus on those countries with the kind of capabilities and materiel resources CENTCOM and the command in Afghanistan required but that, for whatever reason, had not yet come forward with a contribution. Among the primary targets were several NATO allies, East Asian states such as Singapore and South Korea, and those Gulf states that, if they had contributed anything at all, had made only small contributions of petroleum and related products. My writ also included the ability to decline contributions. Many such offers had come to the State Department from NATO countries. However well intentioned, they did not fill the bill for CENTCOM, and it was my office’s responsibility to tell these states “thanks, but no thanks.” Having laid the groundwork for cooperation at the staff level between my small assistance-in-kind team and its counterpart at Central Command, I led a delegation to Tampa on December 17, 2001 to brief Tommy Franks and the rest of the CENTCOM leadership on what we had thus far accomplished and what we hoped to do next. After meeting with his chief of logistics, chief of staff and his deputy commander, I sat down with Tommy to review the bidding. The rangy Texan was in an expansive mood. Things were going well in Afghanistan, he said, but materiel demands were mounting daily, and it was imperative that friendly nations come forward with more assistance. I briefed him on my planned trip to the Gulf, notably to the United Arab Emirates, and informed him that our two staffs were working to develop a short, prioritized list of CENTCOM needs that the UAE might fulfill. The Emirates were already contributing in a variety of ways, including waiving a host of airport and seaport fees. But we both knew they could do more. My team arrived in Abu Dhabi on January 6, 2002, having finalized the details of the fiscal year 2003 DoD budget request. The following day we met with two sons of UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan: Sheikh Hamdan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and Sheikh Mohammed, the UAE’s Chief of Staff of the armed forces. I had met both of them in the past: Sheikh Hamdan had visited my Pentagon office, causing much surprise among my staff members, who were unused to foreign leaders meeting with the Comptroller. A soft-spoken man often reluctant to use his English, which was actually quite good, Sheikh Hamdan reiterated what I already knew: The UAE was prepared to play, indeed was playing, a crucial role in support of the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. Sheikh Mohammed, far more talkative in English, went into considerable detail about his country’s efforts and offered to help persuade other Gulf states to contribute. I sensed that he would be ready to be even more supportive if he was approached discreetly. The UAE, like the other Arab governments, did not want the extent to which it was helping the United States to become widely known. Abu Dhabi was already a major staging point for U.S. air forces and was continuing to waive various port and related fees. While there, we toured al-Dhafra air base, from which U.S. forces flew a variety of missions throughout the Gulf and into Afghanistan. The base was a sprawling facility. Abu Dhabi did not skimp on the space that it provided American forces. The following day we drove to Dubai to meet with the Crown Prince (and UAE Defense Minister) Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. MBR, as he is universally nicknamed, is the visionary who transformed Dubai into a supercity (until it ran into financial troubles in 2009). He was an outspoken advocate of reaching an understanding with Israel, at least until the killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January 2010, allegedly by Mossad agents, ruptured informal ties between the two states. He is also a staunch supporter of the United States. Not surprisingly, the Dubai port of Jebel Ali, like al-Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, became (and remains) a major support locale for coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Later in the afternoon we flew to one of the lesser known of the seven emirates, Fujeirah, where we met with the intensely pro-American Sheikh Saleh al-Sharqi, brother of the Emirate’s ruler. At that point I expected to fly back to Dubai to catch a flight to Islamabad. Instead, after being treated to a heart-stopping helicopter ride through Fujeirah’s hills, I received a call from Sheikh Mohammed’s office. He was inviting me and a few members of my team to dine with a mutual friend, King Abdullah of Jordan. It seems that Sheikh Mohammed, who is close not only to King Abdullah but also to the other young Middle Eastern monarch, King Mohammed of Morocco, learned that I was also friendly with the Jordanian ruler. So he sent a helicopter to bring me back to Abu Dhabi. I thus found myself dining with two of the leading pro-American figures of the younger generation of Middle Eastern rulers. Like the UAE, Jordan was also providing support to the American efforts in Afghanistan. Its special forces were being helpful, although what they actually did was being “closely held.” In addition, Jordan had agreed to furnish Afghanistan with a combat hospital. That facility later proved to be extremely popular among Afghan civilians, many of whom traveled long distances to receive medical help there. Upon our return home, one of my assistants, Josh Boehm, who had accompanied me on the trip and whom I had asked to follow the progress of our assistance-in-kind effort, recommended that I summarize for Tommy Franks the details of my conversations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and that I specifically ask him to directly request additional fuel from Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed. This was a matter that had already been discussed at lower levels between the militaries of the two countries. A direct approach to MBZ, as we called him, would underscore my discussions with him and settle the matter. The approach was made; the fuel was provided. Support from other countries for the U.S. efforts in Afghanistan continued but slowed to a trickle with the passage of time. Smaller countries sometimes surprised us with their generosity. Singapore, for example, pledged $10 million early in April 2002. Other donations tended to be for much smaller dollar amounts. For example, in June, Norway made a second donation, this time of equipment valued at about $800,000. Every donation was welcome, of course, but there was no denying that we expected more, especially from the wealthier allied nations. One offer of help came from an unexpected source. In late 2001, the Taiwanese government signaled that it was prepared to help fund U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. It clearly wanted to demonstrate that it adhered to the traditional value that friendship and support are a two-way street. During the first half of 2002, I met informally with Michael Tsai, a brilliant academic who was Deputy Director of Taiwan’s unofficial embassy in Washington, the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Relations Office, and who would later become Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Defense, to discuss the initial parameters of the Taiwanese offer. In June 2002 a combined team of mid-level civilian and military officials, led by Josh Boehm, traveled to Taiwan bearing a list of CENTCOM needs, which included computers, vehicles and, most important, engineering and construction support for training facilities and barracks for the fledgling Afghan National Army. The Taiwanese responded positively to these requests, especially for engineering and construction. In addition, they immediately gave Josh a check for $5 million, which he deposited in the appropriate account when he landed in Hawaii on his way back to Washington. That check alone put Taiwan ahead of several other donors. Indeed, as Afghanistan’s Deputy Defense Minister Rahim Wardak wrote to an official in Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s office on January 20, 2004, the Taiwanese donation was “one of the largest for rebuilding our Army.” In early 2002, I began to travel to both Europe and Asia, often with colleagues from the State Department such as Bill Taylor, who was then State’s Kabul-based coordinator for international assistance to Afghanistan, to encourage friendly governments to provide materiel or economic support to our Afghan operations. These efforts met with mixed results. Almost every country I visited made sympathetic noises, but some constraint always seemed to emerge just when it came time to fork over the loot. Perhaps my greatest frustration was with some of the wealthier Gulf states. They did help, but nowhere near to the degree they might have. On the other hand, South Korea responded to a specific request from Don Rumsfeld in November 2001 by dispatching a ninety-member medical unit to Kyrgyzstan in February, while Korean cargo aircraft transported supplies to the region. This support was by any reasonable measure very generous, and we in DoD in particular appreciated the spirit with which it was offered. Even as my team worked with the Joint Staff to obtain support from other states for U.S. military activities, it also played a tangential role in the search for American funds to provide development support to Afghanistan. This was by no means a simple matter. OMB did not seem disposed toward providing major chunks of development assistance. DoD had virtually no authority to provide support for key elements of reconstruction such as improving governance, drug eradication, reorganizing the justice system or providing police training. Neither the Europeans nor the Gulf Arabs were disposed to do much either, as I quickly learned. If it was hard to obtain material support for the coalition military efforts, it was going to be even harder to obtain cold cash to support rebuilding Afghanistan There was also the matter of creating, training and equipping an Afghan army that could supersede the various militias that held sway throughout the country’s provinces. With the seeming defeat of the Taliban, the so-called warlords who had fought them, and who commanded their own militias, were effectively in charge. For the most part they used their power and position to purloin taxes, customs and other revenues meant for the central government. While corruption is a relative phenomenon from culture to culture, this diversion of revenue was excessive even by local Afghan standards. A national army, organized by and reporting to the central government, was critical to ensuring the country’s stability once coalition forces were withdrawn. Not surprisingly, the warlords did not go out of their way to support the creation of the Afghan National Army, but neither did almost anyone else. DoD was hamstrung; the Foreign Assistance Act gave the State Department the authorities for training and equipping foreign military forces. Indeed, all security assistance authorities resided with the State Department. Traditionally, State Department personnel, in cooperation with their counterparts from the Defense Department, developed the rationale, goals and objectives for security assistance programs and determined funding priorities and allocations. DoD personnel then implemented the agreed-upon programs. Yet State had requested only $70 million in the fiscal year 2002 supplemental appropriations for training and equipping the Afghans. Moreover, the security assistance process was lengthy, cumbersome and entirely inappropriate for responding rapidly to the needs of fighting terrorism. And State always had far more trouble getting funding from Congress than did the Defense Department. For all of these reasons, the Pentagon leadership began to examine whether DoD, which would be conducting the actual training and equipping, should request its own budget authority and funding for that purpose. Having Defense enmeshed in financing a train-and-equip program had advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, with its own budget, the Department would have more control over how those funds were spent and how the training would be conducted. On the other hand, what was being considered was merely “drawdown authority”, that is, authority to spend money already in existing Defense accounts rather than new funding. That meant that the funds would have to be drawn away from other Defense programs, and the sums involved were not trivial. CENTCOM estimated that the start-up cost of a train-and-equip program would be about $130 million, twice as large as the amount State was prepared to allocate. Defense would likely have to find the entire amount if State bowed out of the program. In addition, CENTCOM estimated that about twice that amount, some $260 million, would be required in fiscal year 2003 to maintain the program. Admittedly, reducing already approved and budgeted DoD programs by well more than a quarter-billion dollars was asking a lot. Everyone understood, too, that even more funding would be needed further down the road. Any effort to train and equip an Afghan army was likely to stretch over many years. Once committed, Defense could not drop the program. Funds would have to be allocated to the Afghan army each year, and they would most likely be drawn from the operations and maintenance (O&M) accounts, which could have a major impact on the readiness of the U.S. forces. Finally, Defense was already funding a train-and-equip program for the troubled country of Georgia; that program had been approved on the grounds that it would not be replicated for other countries. If DoD now also won approval for a similar program in Afghanistan, there was no way to ensure that other train-and-equip efforts would not also migrate to the department. If so, an even greater share of O&M funds would be diverted from American troops and equipment. For its part, the State Department was not enthusiastic about transferring responsibility for funding and managing the program to DoD. Although it turned to Defense to implement train and equip programs because it did not have the trained manpower and infrastructure to conduct the programs itself, State viewed “train and equip” as a security assistance program, which came under its authority. State was prepared to provide security assistance to the Afghans and was planning a conference in Geneva to obtain international funding for the effort. Moreover, even if State had been willing to cede the Afghan training mission entirely to Defense, the four congressional oversight committees that controlled State’s budget would not have allowed it. Congressional committees jealously guard their turf, as do the appropriations subcommittees linked to them. The committees were likely to regard the creation of a DoD-managed train-and-equip program as the first step toward dismantling the entire security assistance structure, and this they simply would not countenance. In light of all these complications, I recommended to Secretary Rumsfeld and others that Defense not seek the authority, especially since it already had responsibility for implementing the program. Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, on the other hand, was a strong supporter of the idea. I was overruled. I had by then also been diminished in another manner. While Secretary Rumsfeld had wanted me to be the Administration’s coordinator for Afghan reconstruction, the State Department, then at odds with DoD over Iraq planning, was not about to agree. At a meeting at the State Department a few days after Rumsfeld “appointed” me, my friend and fellow Vulcan Deputy Secretary of State Rich Armitage told me “nothing doing.” It wasn’t personal. Rich reasoned, quite sensibly, that State had to lead reconstruction work because it oversaw the activities of the Agency for International Development. He was perfectly comfortable, however, with my leading the government’s efforts to raise money and materiel for Afghanistan. There was one other fact that Rich never mentioned to me: There already was a government-wide coordinator for Afghanistan. That coordinator was Richard Haass, the Director of the Policy Planning office at State. I suspect that Rich never mentioned this fact because he assumed I knew it, and I certainly should have known. In government service one should never assume anything, however. The reality was that I had no idea that Richard was also pulling double duty and that he was, at a minimum, State’s coordinator, if not the Administration’s overall designee, for Afghan reconstruction. I wish I had known about Richard’s assignment. I would have been delighted to work with him. I think we would have made an effective team. My initial State Department counterpart was Bill Taylor, who played a major coordinating role for Afghanistan. It simply did not occur to me that the missions of two senior State Department officials might overlap so much. Indeed, I did not learn about Richard Haass’s role until quite some time after he left the State Department in mid-2003 to become President of the Council on Foreign Relations. And to this day I do not know who appointed him, or exactly when he was appointed. That I did not know about Richard’s activities despite constant interface with other officials, both at State and other agencies, who dealt with Afghanistan was sorry testimony to the state of disarray that governed our approach to Afghanistan once the military mission seemed to be under control. In retrospect, it was not a mistake to appoint a single coordinator for Afghanistan; the mistake was to fail to ensure that this person truly had authority—and recognition—across the government. On another level, given the shift of energy and attention away from Afghanistan to Iraq, the U.S. government failed in the end to implement in practical terms the role for which Rumsfeld intended me and for which Richard Haass was named. This compounded the problems we faced and continue to face today in Afghanistan. We have never truly had unity of command in the non-military aspects of our policy in Afghanistan, and it shows. So I did not become the Administration’s point man for Afghan reconstruction, only DoD’s. That was more than enough for me, however, as I continued to travel, tin cup in hand. I needed to know better, however, what I was raising money for, so in October 2002 I made my first trip to Afghanistan. There I found our point man for training the Afghan Army, General Karl Eikenberry, optimistic about the prospects. So were the French trainers who had signed on to help. I met with Hamid Karzai and his energetic Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, among many others. I began to get a feel for the scope and nature of the problem, and its financial dimensions. Ghani clearly needed help. He needed Washington to lean on the warlords. He needed a viable border police to help with customs collection. He needed training for his own bureaucrats and those of other ministries. Most of all, he needed money—to pay civil servants, to disburse to ordinary Afghans, to finance economic projects. He was not getting much from us, certainly not what he thought he should be receiving. Nor was he getting much from others. The United States and others had organized a major donors’ conference in Tokyo in January 2002. Many countries had pledged reconstruction assistance; few were actually making good on those pledges. The Gulf states were a major source of frustration for Ashraf—and none worse than Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had pledged $220 million at the Tokyo conference. As of early October, they had disbursed only $27 million. The Kuwaitis had pledged $30 million and disbursed $2 million. Qatar had pledged just $12 million and had disbursed nothing. Ashraf’s gloom was not without foundation, and so on my way back to Washington I again took up my tin cup. We flew to Oman first. Oman is not an oil-rich state, and we expected little from our visit beyond sympathy. In the event, we discovered that the Omanis had intended to direct $3 million toward relief for Afghanistan, but were on the verge of erroneously applying the money to the wrong account. We were able, literally at the last minute, to divert the money to the Afghan relief fund. Had we not visited Muscat, we would only have learned of the Omani action after it had taken place and was no longer retrievable. I moved on to Abu Dhabi, where I had a midnight meeting in my hotel room with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. The next day we had a formal meeting with the Crown Prince, Sheikh Khalifa, who has since succeeded his late father to the Presidency of the UAE. The Emirates had delivered on their initial set of promises of support, and were now prepared to provide more. They were, in fact, the most reliable and consistent of our Gulf allies, and their low-key approach made doing business with them a pleasure. From Abu Dhabi we flew to Qatar. Our visit was geared to getting the Qataris to help the Afghans in a serious material way. The most we got out of it, however, were kind words and a trip to the sprawling American air base at al-Udeid, whose expansion I had negotiated with Sheikh Hamad. By the time I returned home, the coins in my tin cup were still few enough to echo loudly when I rattled them. Our real problem with regard to Afghanistan, however, was not our occasionally stingy allies but ourselves. As attention and prospective resources shifted toward Iraq, the Bush Administration, through the Office of Management and Budget, vastly underfunded the Afghan reconstruction effort. The Administration was requesting only $7 billion in assistance for Afghanistan in FY 2004, just a fraction of what we anticipated asking to support the Iraq operation. This was nothing new. The total value of American assistance to Afghanistan in the FY 2002 budget amounted to $942.1 million. This was probably $500 million short of what was needed that year, but analysts might have argued that the country could not absorb more money at that time. The initial FY 2003 allocation, however, totaled just $151 million, with Foreign Military Finance reduced to a laughable $1 million. An outraged Bill Taylor made his views clear in an October 26, 2002 email distributed widely throughout the government: Our request for FY 03 is $151 million. This is not serious. . . . FMF goes from $57 million to $1 million? On this we train the ANA next year?. . . [the] FY 03 OHDACA [overseas humanitarian and civic aid—a DoD program] request of $12 million had been reduced to $6 million. . . can this be right?. . . . Zal [Khalilzad] is here and I just showed him the chart [that listed the FY 03 request]. His response was the right one: ‘You’re not serious.’
In the event, the Office of Management and Budget eventually caved in to State’s protestations: the FY 2003 budget totaled $981.8 million, of which $191 million was for Foreign Military Financing. However, as in the previous fiscal year’s request, and the request for the year after, these amounts fell far short of what Afghanistan required. The budget allocated for the supposed aftermath of the Afghan war demonstrated that, as had been the case when the Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan, the United States simply could not maintain its focus on an area that no longer had “crisis” written all over it. And if we cannot maintain our focus, we clearly make the job of holding our allies close vastly more difficult. The Bush Administration’s lack of follow-up was not unique to Afghanistan or, for that matter, Iraq once Saddam was defeated. For far too long, and with far too few exceptions, American policymakers have been shackled to their “in-boxes.” Their focus is on the immediate, the must-do. They devote little time to considering the long-term consequences of their short-term policies, or creating mechanisms for dealing with them. The interconnectedness of the international environment, the speed with which information can be transmitted, has only reinforced the American predilection for the here-and-now. This is not an environment conducive to the nurturing of alliances, where the “gardening” phase of a relationship is, or ought to be, a constant. If we cannot show a constancy of policy, it makes it far more difficult to maintain the rhythm of allied assistance. If raising funds to assist post-Taliban Afghanistan was difficult, it was nothing compared to shaping an environment of allied cooperation over the funding of the Iraq War and its aftermath. But that is another story.