Saturday, April 01, 2006

NATO expands in Afghanistan -- but will it help?

NATO commander Gen. James Jones said the alliance can expand its peacekeeping operations throughout most of Afghanistan by August.
That's good news, and about time. But there is some doubt about how effective such a move will be, since a lot of it will involve merely absorbing U.S. troops that are already in the country.

Only 98 U.S. troops died in Afghanistan last year but the ratio of casualties to overall troop levels makes Afghanistan as dangerous as Iraq. While Iraq's violent disintegration dominates the headlines, President Bush touts Afghanistan as a success. During his recent visit, the president told Afghans their country was "inspiring others ... to demand their freedom."

But many features of the political landscape are not so inspiring -- one is the deteriorating security situation. Taliban attacks are up; their tactics have become more aggressive and nihilistic. They have detonated at least 23 suicide bombs in the past six months, killing foreign and Afghan troops, a Canadian diplomat, local police and, in some cases, crowds of civilians.

Kidnapping is on the rise. American contractors are being targeted. Some 200 schools have been burned or closed down. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, senior American military officer here, expects the violence to get worse over the spring and summer.

The backdrop to this gathering crisis is Afghanistan's shattered economy. The country's 24 million people are still totally dependent on foreign aid, opium poppy cultivation and remittances sent home by the 5 million Afghans abroad. Afghanistan ranks fifth from the bottom on the U.N. Development Program's Human Development Index. Only a few sub-Saharan semi-failed states are more destitute.

The article goes on to mention that the United States is slashing reconstruction spending and reducing its troop presence, sort of regardless of the actual situation on the ground.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Why Palestinians Usually Get It Wrong said...

Come and check out my collection of Rachel Corrie jokes. http://whypalestiniansgetitwrong.blogspot.com/2006/04/rachel-corrie-jokes-come-and-get-em-i_01.html

4/01/2006 10:21 PM  

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