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Reply #110: Re-invading Afghanistan will be necessary soon. Today's NY Times: [View All]

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Dems Will Win Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-17-03 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #107
110. Re-invading Afghanistan will be necessary soon. Today's NY Times:
Edited on Mon Nov-17-03 03:43 PM by Dems Will Win
While the failure of American policy in Iraq in recent months has been painfully visible and at the forefront of public debate, the Bush administration's failures in Afghanistan have been as serious, and the risks are also great. It was Afghanistan, not Iraq, that was the spawning ground for the Sept. 11 attacks. And now, less than two years after President Bush celebrated his first military victory, Afghanistan is in danger of reverting to a deadly combination of rule by warlords and the Taliban, the allies and protectors of Osama bin Laden.

A revived Taliban army, flush with new recruits from Pakistan, is staging a frightening comeback. Major cities remain in the hands of the corrupt and brutal warlords. Much of the countryside is too dangerous for aid workers. The postwar pro-American government led by Hamid Karzai rules Kabul and little else. Opium poppies are once again a major export crop. And Osama bin Laden remains at large.

This alarming state of affairs is not mainly the result of hidden conspiracies or bad luck. It flows from a succession of bad American policy decisions. These began with the Bush administration's reluctance to commit enough American troops to Afghanistan. Then it prematurely declared victory in its rush to a war of choice with Iraq.

The reliance on a relatively small American force in Afghanistan was hailed at the time as a new model for low-casualty, high-impact warfare. But it forced Washington to rely on Tajik and Uzbek warlords and their followers to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan's cities. Many of those same cities are still controlled by those warlords.

The limited size of United States forces may also have contributed to Osama bin Laden's escape by leaving much of the early searching to poorly equipped Afghan militias and Pakistani border forces with no strong motive to succeed. The hunt for America's Public Enemy No. 1 should have been the Pentagon's No. 1 priority.

Another costly mistake was the administration's failure to press for a robust international peacekeeping force that could displace the warlords and strengthen the central government. NATO recently took over the leadership of the 5,500-member international force and is now preparing to send some peacekeepers outside Kabul for the first time. The numbers being considered, fewer than 500, are still far too small.

Washington also did not spend enough on postwar aid, slowing down such vital projects as repairing the main highway from Kabul to Kandahar. American reconstruction aid has now been increased by $1.2 billion for the next year. That is not yet enough.

The drafting of a new constitution is also a hopeful development. But as things stand now, it is no more than the Kabul City Charter. Unless far more is done to establish security in the many areas where it is still lacking and to reinforce the authority of the Karzai government, there can be no economic and political revival. There is a very real risk that soon, Afghanistan may once again turn into a sanctuary and training ground for Al Qaeda and other international terrorists.
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