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Afghanistan has needed our assistance for more than 40 years. We participated in development at the University and craft development in the 1965-1977 period. We have deserted the Afghans in need three times. First when the Russians came in, second when the civil war followed, third with the Taliban take-over. Recently we have made military efforts. Afghanistan had a democracy, women's rights, education before all this. Let us help them return to those. The Afghan people are wonderful and have great capacity. Afghanistan is a keystone to the region and the fight against mad jihadism.
Pratap Chatterjee is fantastic. You could have used about twice his incisive, informed insight and about half of Mary Pipher, charming as she is.
What Chatterjee echoes what I heard from a USAID worker recently returned from Afghanistan: the country can be stabilized and can grow a functioning regional economy if transport routes and more major population centers are secure. This is not impossible, and it is in the long-term interest of the US. We don't need to rebuild the country from scratch, but neither can we focus only on the military solution.
As Chatterjee points out, though, it's more about quality of aid than quantity. Let's hope the Obama State Department gets this right.
The reason things went into the toilet in Iraq was because we focused only on our selfish targets... protect the oil industry, let the rest of Iraq go to hell. Not surprisingly, the Iraqis didn't appreciate this approach and let us know through car bombs and gunfights.
The reason that the surge worked as well as it did was because it took lessons from previous counterinsurgencies and applied them in Iraq. These lessons are now part of Army and Marine military doctrine and are being adapted to Afghanistan.
The most basic part of this change in strategy was recognizing that the center of gravity in a counter insurgency fight is development and competent govenance, NOT the military fight. Counter insurgencies are won, not by increasing troops on the ground to some magical number, such as 500,000, but by getting the population to support the government and eliminate support for the insurgents.
Obama's mistake as I see it is not putting enough emphasis on the non-military effort.
I think that helping the Afghan people and improving the quality of life, but if the American government is focused on totally rebuilding the Afghanistan and not strategically taking out Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden, would we not run the risk of Afghanistan turning into another mess like Iraq?
This Semester I am taking International Politics, and my professor gave the class a case study, in which the ratio of the foreign fighters to Afghan fighters it would take in order to successfully secure Afghanistan, and in total, the U.S. and its allies would need 500,000 troops. Afghanistan is just not "winnable"!
This guest needs to understand that the primary purpose of the USA is and needs to be to look after the security of the USA.
Our purpose for being there is not to pump money in to raise the Afghan people's standard of living- if that happens as a side-effect, fine.
If the goal was to build hospital and schools, I can think of many more deserving countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where the people are less hostile to the USA.
A country shouldn't be able to jump the foreign aid line by virtue of harboring terrorists.
Why can't the US get it right?
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