Imagine There’s No Countries . . .

Considering the Possibility and Practice of Global Citizenship

Afghanistan

Posted by rfrankl on April 29, 2009

            In the past month I have become quite fascinated with the American expedition in Afghanistan. Part of the curiosity is that Afghanistan is going to be essential in getting energy from the CAR’s and is incredibly important in America’s security; if we let it become a sanctuary for terrorists again then we might have another 9/11. In addition though, I have a feeling of hope that we might prove the rule of Afghanistan wrong. We might not be the empire that goes there to die. The strategy that America had going in was one that was not going to work. It was not one of nation building: building a non-corrupt police force, providing safety for the children on their way to school, paving the roads, de-mining the agriculture fields around Kabul, and getting teachers back. The New York Times’ coverage and Ahmed Raschid’s book, The Taliban, have done a tremendous job in showing how important and essential Afghanistan is, but also how we are not going to be able to be successful without a “community organizer’s” mind set.

            This is why I am so optimistic when it comes to Obama and Afghanistan, despite the raising of the stakes. He has sent in more troops. We are a bigger target now. Biden, who knows his foreign policy, opposed the decision but was overruled. The Taliban is raising 300 million dollars a year off of the Opium trade, enough to sustain operations for a year, and it is the only income that the farmer’s have. If you burn the fields and cut off the supply of money going to the Taliban, then you boost their recruitment because of disgruntled and unemployed farmers. That is not what the expedition forces are doing in whole but I caught a story in the Times today that says they are moving into areas of Opium production i.e. Kandahar and Kandabhad, and Zabul, and are taking out farms that might have Taliban weapons nearby. You cannot start taking out this production until you have profitable and sustaining options for these farmers. We need to focus on the areas we have and make sure we are building and building, holding on to the Tajick, Uzbeck, Turkomihn, and Hezara minorities, and then in the areas of strongest Taliban resistance, we need to take advantage of some of the animosity against them from the more old fashioned tribal leaders of the Pashtu. When need to find out who those are and get them support.

            Everyone in both the military and the Obama administration hold beliefs on strategy that are upside down from not only the Bush administration but also from every administration that came before. The new team, and also Gates and Petrauis, get it that the important stuff is not with the diplomats, communiqués, and executive committees, but that what is important is what is going on, on the ground. They realize, finally, that the goal is not to bombard, bomb, and ruin but cut off their support systems and the only way to do that is to clear, hold, and build. You need the support of the civilian population and you can only get that by clearing the land of mines so that can start growing food again, clean the wells so that they can get good water, build a police force so that they are safe, get the teachers back, and treat the whole population with the respect that a civilization over two millennia old deserves.

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