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November 20, 2006

Afghanistan Slipping Away

Christie at Firedoglake has a great post up about Afghanistan today, entitled "Breaking Our Word".  She says:

Afghanistan is sinking back into chaos and repression, especially in the Southern reaches where weak warlords and complicit officials have allowed the Taliban to retake power in exchange for some false sense of temporary stability as the repressive regime consolidates its stranglehold on the region and marches, ever onward, toward the prize of Kabul.

We gave our word when we invaded Afghanistan that the Taliban would be routed and that the repressive regime would be lifted so that young girls in the country would have a life outside layers and layers of forced cloth, so that they could have the hope of an education and some semblence of a potential future that allowed for them to make some choices about its course.  We gave our word.

As Christie says, we particularly gave our word to the Afghani women.  It looks like the women of Kabul are managing to rebuild their lives.  She points to a lovely set of video-clips that the WAPO has done about women in Kabul developing businesses, helping each other, creating lives for themselves and their families after decades of turmoil. 

BUT she also points to other stories in the WAPO discussing what it's like for women outside of Kabul and it's not pretty.  She quotes from women from the Taliban stronghold in the province of Helmand, who say:

"All of our lives are in danger now. Our schools are shut, and anyone who works for the government is branded as an infidel," said Ma Gul, 52, a teacher who traveled to the capital this week with 20 other women from Greshk, a town in Helmand 300 miles south, to demand better protection and the removal of weak regional officials.

Christie adds:

The Afghanistan that could have been, with its possibilities of hope and justice, is slipping away from us, and like sand grains scouring across the surface of a mirror, it leaves a reflection of our nation's soul — our lack of commitment, the breaking of our word…again…to these people who have lived under constant seige for decades with the promise that America would stand up for them — that has deeply marred flaws.

Afghanistan was cast aside by George Bush in his quest to topple Saddam Hussein…for whatever misguided, unsupported and unsubstantiated reasons, Iraq was the goal, and the land that had long served as a haven to al qaeda and Bin Laden's hatred of the West became a forgotten dusty relic for everyone but the troops we left behind there to clean up after our mess.  We caught Saddam Hussein well over a year ago, he was convicted last month in a messy show trial…and Iraq is still a mess.  Osama Bin Laden and his surrogates are still at large, and Pakistan is reportedly allowing the Taliban fighters who are injured in skirmishes with allied troops in Afghanistan to be treated in safe-houses across the border.

We have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the peoples of this region by our sheer neglect of the issues that matter to them:  decent roads, food, shelter, economic prospects…keeping our word.  Any of these things would have done wonders — both in Afghanistan and also in Iraq early on — but because George Bush's Administration failed to adequately plan for the aftermath of the boom-boom portion of the invasion (you know, that point where the really hard work sets in…), we are now reaping a whirlwind of grief in a whole lot of places.

We cannot continue to have a foreign policy that is so haphazard, so piecemeal…so lazy and personally driven.  We cannot wage war on the cheap, and we cannot continue this ignorant failure to reach out to experts in the State Department and elsewhere in the government for help on rebuilding and nation-sustaining actions because the civilians running the Pentagon desire their own personal feifdom.  These decisions — or the lack thereof — have long-term consequences, for our current world and for the future, as what we do, or undo, ripples outward into the generations to come.  And the utter lack of accountability up to now has dire consequences for us all.

I wrote about the resurgence of the Taliban three weeks ago, based on a great NYT Magazine article by Elizabeth Ruben.  If you can stand to read more, it's here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on November 20, 2006 at 08:53 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

Thanks Lynn, and Christie and all others who keep this topic on the front burners. I guess i should go write to my congresscritters now.

Posted by: Lisa | Nov 21, 2006 2:06:16 PM

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