Afghanistan: Turning Success into Failure
Afghanistan: Turning Success into Failure
This Sunday marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Six years later, both Osama bin Laden and his number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have yet to be captured.
|OCTOBER 5, 2007||by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna,
Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Jeremy Richmond
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Turning Success Into Failure
This Sunday marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised the country “sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive [terrorists] out and bring them to justice.” Six years later, both Osama bin Laden and his number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have yet to be captured. The Taliban and al Qaeda, once virtually destroyed in Afghanistan, “have reconstituted their capabilities and command structure along the Afghan-Pakistan border, again posing a threat to the national security of the United States.” Despite promises from the administration that it is committed to fighting insurgents in Afghanistan, it has “not provided the necessary resources, troops, and leadership to keep Afghanistan on the path to stability.” The country has less and less to show for the sacrifices made by the 443 Americans killed in Afghanistan, as strides made following the invasion have largely been allowed to lapse under the administration’s watch. The Center for American Progress has produced a video commemorating the anniversary of the invasion, which outlines how the situation has deteriorated and the steps that must be taken to rectify it. Watch it here.
CREATING FAILURE OUT OF SUCCESS: While great strides were made following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the situation has deteriorated dramatically since 2005. Because of the drain from the war in Iraq, the administration has been unable to send enough resources or troops to Afghanistan to ensure success there. The Bush administration has conducted “state-building on the cheap,” failing to give priority to operations in Afghanistan as part of the larger fight against international terrorist networks. “Stabilizing Afghanistan and countering the insurgency will require a massive renewed commitment. Afghanistan needs new infusions of aid, an increase in troop levels, and a shift in focus to state-building, specifically creating a competent, accountable government.” Tayeb Jawad, Afganistan’s ambassador to the United States, recently told The Progress Report, “In the past five years, there was an underinvestment in building the infrastructure in Afghanistan, including the quality of life of the Afghans.” Jawad said U.S. presence “should have been very robust from the beginning” and “assistance should have been much stronger.” (Read more on his interview here.)
CLUELESS ADMINISTRATION: Despite overwhelming evidence that things are heading in the wrong direction in Afghanistan, the Bush administration continues to spout rhetoric claiming progress. Former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld recently told GQ that Afghanistan has “been a big success!” Bush touted progress just last week, claiming that “Afghanistan is becoming a safer, more stable country.” The only administration official that seems to understand the severity of the situation in Afghanistan is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who “told a group of U.S. House Democratic lawmakers that the multinational mission in Afghanistan is suffering from a lack of resources.” Gates specifically cited “the war in Iraq and the reluctance of U.S. allies to contribute more troops” as contributors to this shortage.
A FIGHT WE CAN WIN: Although the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated recently, experts agree that the window for success has not completely closed. Afghanistan has a functioning and legitimate government, led by Hamid Karzai, that is representative of its people. We also have a legitimate coalition of forces in Afghanistan, with 36 countries contributing troops. Finally, polling of the Afghan people shows support for an international troop presence and little support for the Taliban. Ambassador Jawad concluded, “Afghanistan is winnable and achieving victory in Afghanistan is easy. The people are your partners. All we need to do is invest in building the capacity of the Afghans to defend their own country.”
Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill that “would bring all United States government contractors in the Iraq war zone under the jurisdiction of American criminal law.”
NEW JERSEY: “Two-thirds of New Jersey residents worry about being able to afford health care and nearly half said they’d pay at least $500 more in taxes for universal coverage.”
FLORIDA: Plans for a major coal plant are derailed “amid concerns about how to deal with gases believed to cause global warming.”
COLORADO: State swears in the first openly gay member of the Colorado House of Representatives.
THINK PROGRESS: Gen. Peter Pace for President?
KY POLITICS: Karl Rove’s deputy, J. Scott Jennings, resigns from White House to join a private public relations firm.
THE CRYPT: In a floor speech, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) worries that Senate “chest-pounding” may be “sleep walking” America into war with Iran.
EDITOR & PUBLISHER: The United States confiscates the Associated Press’s footage of the aftermath of a bombing in Iraq.
“In all these vital measures for fighting the war on terror, the Democrats in Washington follow a simple philosophy: Just say no.”
“My engagement with the new leadership in Congress…indicates that they are even more committed to pursue the war in the original front of the war against terrorism and to help out Afghanistan.”
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