Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Nadejda Marinova






May 2018

Advisor: Dr. Nadejda Marinova

Major: Department of Political Science

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Afghanistan is currently foreign aid dependent. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has allocated over 100 billion US dollars since 2001 for the development and modernization of Afghanistan. The United States has invested over 700 billion US dollars overall. There is a breakdown or a problem in USAID funding for Afghanistan, whereas not all the money allocated was utilized for intended purposes. Today Afghanistan remains a LDC, a least developed country, with extensive poverty, limited energy, poor infrastructure, and low literacy rates despite USAID and US spending and aid projects.

This study examines examples of disconnects or the breakdown between funding and the fruition of intended modernization goals for Afghanistan. This qualitative dissertation utilizes primary reports from funding agencies including USAID, audits of projects, and formal inquiries. Additionally, the study utilizes respondent data completed by a diverse group of Afghan-born and American-born trained experts offering key information. These 28 individuals have insight into the political and economic impact of USAID funding in Afghanistan, focusing on examples in the energy and education sectors. The energy-sector case study is of the 335 million-dollar Tarakhil Power Plant (TPP), a project funded by USAID, but considered a failure. The dissertation also includes a case study on the education sector in Afghanistan. I incorporate my own eyewitness accounts from serving as a social scientist for 8 months in 2011-2012 with the US Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Therefore, the final analysis triangulates data drawing on: 1) USAID and SIGAR official reports; 2) original qualitative research data from respondents; 3) HTS observations, and 4) media and academic reports.

The theoretical framework for the improvement of a nation, or nation building, relies on modernization and human capital theories. The analyses of the data within modernization and human capital theories to form conclusions and recommendations. The conclusions will show a combination of a lack of communications, accountability, security risks, systemic corruption, and misguided planning and implementation. Top-down planning for development projects, like the Tarakhil Power Point and educational aid, did not succeed.

(Key Words: USAID, Afghanistan, foreign aid, modernization, human capital, security, corruption, energy, education)


Abdullah Bataineh has a B.A. in History with a focus on Arabic, Islamic and Western Studies, and Political Science from Yarmouk University in Irbed, Jordan. His Master’s degree in Political Science is from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Mr. Bataineh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science (Major: Urban Politics; Minors: Public Policy and Public Administration) at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan USA.

Mr. Bataineh has extensive field research training and work experience as a social scientist and cultural and political advisor for the US Department of Defense. He spent eight months as a Federal employee doing social scientist research, and as a certified combat advisor in Afghanistan with the Human Terrain System (HTS) attached to the US Army. In a previous deployment, he worked as a cultural and political advisor representing the US Department of Defense at a multi-national allied US Army Division headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. Bataineh previously served two years as a regional media analyst with US Army Central Command’s Digital Engagement Team in Tampa, Florida.