Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Mayor of Kabul 

Seymour Hersh on the status of the war in Afghanistan. It ain't pretty.

3 important paragraphs.

In retrospect, Clarke said, he believes that the President and his men did not respond for three reasons: “One, they did not want to get involved in Afghanistan like Russia did. Two, they were saving forces for the war in Iraq. And, three, Rumsfeld wanted to have a laboratory to prove his theory about the ability of small numbers of ground troops, coupled with airpower, to win decisive battles.” As of today, Clarke said, “the U.S. has succeeded in stabilizing only two or three cities. The President of Afghanistan is just the mayor of Kabul.”

The results of the postwar neglect are stark. A leading scholar on Afghanistan, Barnett R. Rubin, wrote, in this month’s Current History, that Afghanistan today “does not have functioning state institutions. It has no genuine army or effective police. Its ramshackle provincial administration is barely in contact with, let alone obedient to, the central government. Most of the country’s meager tax revenue has been illegally taken over by local officials who are little more than warlords with official titles.” The goal of American policy in Afghanistan “was not to set up a better regime for the Afghan people,” Rubin wrote. “The goal instead was to get rid of the terrorist threat against America.” The United States enlisted the warlords in its war against terrorism, and “the result was an Afghan government created at Bonn that rested on a power base of warlords.”

"Despite such statistics, the American military has, for the most part, looked the other way, essentially because of the belief that the warlords can deliver the Taliban and Al Qaeda. One senior N.G.O. official told me, “Everybody knows that the U.S. military has the drug lords on the payroll. We’ve put them back in power. It’s gone so terribly wrong.”

We can't afford to ignore Afghanistan as we did in the early 90's, when CIA cut off funding to the anti-Soviet rebels. We paid for it by allowing Al Qaeda to fester there, with the result of 9-11. Now, we're downplaying reality in order for a propoganda victory.


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