The job of rebuilding Afghanistan is shaping up as an ominous sequel to the massive, mistake-riddled U.S. effort to get Iraq back on its feet.

Since 2001, the U.S. has committed nearly $33 billion for reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Yet as President Barack Obama sends more troops and aid to quell a growing insurgency, there''s been no detailed public accounting of where the money has gone and how effectively it''s being spent.

As in Iraq, where the U.S. has contributed $50 billion for rebuilding, the flow of money to Afghanistan outpaces the ability to track it. Already, an inspector general looking into the U.S. handling of Afghanistan reconstruction has found worrisome evidence of lax oversight and costly projects left foundering.

Afghanistan presents difficult challenges. It lacks Iraq''s modern infrastructure and oil to generate revenue. Work sites are often in remote and primitive locations, making it hard for investigators to keep tabs on progress and ensure contract terms are being met.

Even when projects are initially successful, there are no guarantees they''ll stay that way. Afghanistan is one of the world''s poorest countries and can''t sustain improvements without heavy international aid. It is hamstrung by a government rife with corruption, by a thriving drug trade, by weak procurement rules and by lax enforcement.

A U.S. government watchdog to oversee the American tax dollars pouring into projects throughout Afghanistan wasn''t even created until 2008 — seven years after U.S. troops invaded the country to hunt down al-Qaida members and oust the Taliban.