Friday :: Oct 15, 2004

International Experts Say Bush Is Wrong About Afghan Successes

by Steve

As Bush blows smoke up the fannies of American voters and the media about how great he has done in Afghanistan, international experts who are closer to the real story in that country say that Bush has failed terribly.

Three years after the US-led invasion, Afghanistan is flooding the world with heroin, warlords reign in the provinces, women are scared and the new security forces are underarmed and undersized, analysts say.

"Bush has painted a rosier picture than exists on the ground... and expressed success prematurely," said Vikram Parekh, Afghan affairs analyst for the International Crisis Group.

"When Bush presents Afghanistan as a country which has made great strides towards democracy, those claims lack credibility," Riffat Hussein, head of strategic studies at Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam University, told AFP.

Hussein and others cite three yardsticks for improvement in the war-torn central Asian land in the last three years: the creation of a national security force; eradicating opium poppies; and disarming warlords' militias.

"If we take these three or four areas to measure success, you will get a very mixed result," Hussein said.

"Militarily the country is under the control of the warlords and Karzai's government does not run beyond Kabul. Right now it's virtual warlord rule whether you look east, west, north or south of Kabul.

"One litmus test is Afghanistan's progress in setting up its own army. Initial goals were for 90,000 and they've not been able to raise beyond 15,000.
"This lack of a national army is directly related to the failure of the government to reign in opium poppies."

Poppy cultivation is set to jump 40 percent this year, the CIA predicts, after a bumper crop last year supplied 90 percent of Europe's heroin and three quarters of the worldwide supply.

It brought in 2.3 billion dollars to Afghanistan last year, 35 percent of gross domestic product, making it the crippled economy's biggest source of revenue.

Parekh points out last weekend's peaceful and well-attended election was "only half an election". Parliamentary elections are on hold until April, because of insecurity and logistical problems.

"That's still going to be a formidable task to administer," Parekh told AFP. "By postponing it, we haven't addressed the obligations that we the

Post-election claims by the US military that the Taliban are a spent force after failing to sabotage the elections, were "very much a premature conclusion," Parekh said.

Bush capitalised on the first vote on October 9 being cast by a refugee woman in Pakistan, to underscore women's emancipation from Taliban-imposed repression.

Outside Kabul however most are still in all-enclosing burqas, and women are scared to speak out.

Human Rights Watch said a "pervasive atmosphere of fear" persists for women involved in politics. "Many Afghan women risk their safety if they participate in public life," it said in a report this month.

But you’ll never get our media, with some exceptions, to hold Bush accountable for his spin on Afghanistan. The truth is that we and our allies will be in Afghanistan for 10-20 years with 18,000 US troops, but Bush has yet to convince NATO to step in with any significant assistance to relieve our forces there. Our situation in Afghanistan could have been alleviated had we focused on finishing the job there first and then turned the reconstruction and security effort over to the UN and NATO respectively before heading off into the Iraq boondoggle.

Now we find ourselves committing to nearly 20,000 troops in Afghanistan for at least a decade, while still needing to possibly turn south and go after Bin Laden in Pakistan.

Steve :: 10:47 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!