Thursday, June 17, 2004

The administration is failing in Afghanistan

Why you're right:

1. The administration has failed to provide the resources necessary to secure Afghanistan. There are just 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan – just about the size of the public-safety force during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The force is about 1/10 of the size as in Iraq even though Afghanistan has more people and a larger geographic area. The failure to provide adequate security allowed the country to spiral into violence, resulting in more than 2,000 death since the end of the 2001 war and threatening the elections scheduled for this fall. (Salt Lake City Tribune, CIA Factbook, San Francisco Chronicle,Washington Post)

2. The administration has no strategy for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. According to a June 2004 General Accounting Office report the administration has "lacked a comprehensive reconstruction strategy." Key components of plans necessary to guide reconstruction "were incomplete or were not drafted until the latter half of fiscal 2003." As a result the U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID) received very little money and was "unable to develop and plan for long-term resource-intensive reconstruction projects." (GAO)

3. The administration has not controlled opium production within Afghanistan. 3600 tons of opium was produced in Afghanistan last year – 2/3 of the world’s supply. Opium production brought in $2.3 billion dollars of Afghanistan last year, half of its gross domestic product. As long as there is an opium problem in Afghanistan there will be a terrorism problem. A significant portion of the drug money is funneled to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. (U.N. Press Release, Guardian)

Why they’re wrong:

1. Defenders of the administration’s Afghanistan policies boast that Bush freed 25 million people from the oppressive regime of the Taliban. But in the current environment many Afghans aren’t free in any meaningful sense of the word. Many Afghans do not feel free to let their children play outdoors, to travel within their own country or even to vote because of fears of violence. We should not be satisfied to deliver the Afghan people from the tyranny of the Taliban to the tyranny of anarchy.

2. Some simply dismiss any problems in Afghanistan because “it is better now than when the Taliban was in power.” This is true. But is this an appropriate standard for success? American has an obligation to Afghanistan to set its goals higher.

A better idea:

It is imperative we dedicate the resources necessary to solve the problems in Afghanistan. Otherwise, Afghanistan could reemerge as a breeding ground for terrorists.