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[P]
Big Bucks for Afghanistan

By imrdkl in News
Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 04:53:53 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Late last week, the US Congress authorized almost $3 billion in aid to Afghanistan over the next four years. Not bad for a lame duck session. All that's needed now is a plan for how to spend the money - a plan which must be formed by the President. In this article you'll find out more about what the Congress has specified about that plan, and what they have to say to some of the other nations who made big promises earlier this year to help out.


From reading the legislation (see link below), it's clear that the Congress means to clean up the mess in Afghanistan. The Bush Administration, formerly wary and even mocking of nation-building, has now somewhat grudgingly joined the cause. GWB has now been given authorization to spend nearly $2 billion over the next two years, just to get the job started. Before he can start, however, the President must seek the appropriation of the money from Congress, which means making the appropriations a priority early in the next congressional session. It's clear that the attention of the public has already begun to shift, and so it's best to attack the problem early in the year.

The bill states that the USA, and the international community should support efforts that advance democracy, provide expertise to meet immediate humanitarian and refugee needs, fight the flow of narcotics, and aid in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Also noted is support for the Loya Jirga, the traditional Afghan assembly, as well as for restoration of a market economy, and womens rights. The bill even considers resettlement of Afghan citizens living abroad with business and professional skills which are needed.

The President has been urged to designate a long-term "coordinator" with the rank and status of an Ambassador, who will be responsible for designing the overall strategy for advancing US interests in Afghanistan. This person will also coordinate between and among the agencies and countries who will provide assistance, including dispute resolution functions. Currently the Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, is serving in this role. Last week, Khalilzad reported that Afghanistan is "on the right track to peace and prosperity".

The bill also encourages donations from US businesses and directs agricultural and rural-development research and expertise be shared and disseminated among the Afghan population. Other forms of assistance, including US military resources to train and assist in the creation of a standing army and police force. This notion of providing long-term military assistance was one of the more difficult concessions to win from the Bush administration.

This legislation, and the monies it provides, is clearly frustrating to the pessimists, but still falls short of the $40 billion estimate delivered at the Tokyo conference earlier this year, which is required during the next decade for full stabilization. The current situation in Afghanistan also seems to be a mild surprise for many who expected disaster and anarchy to follow the removal of the Taliban. As an American living in Europe, I recall the worries and doubts coming from the people here, after the US began the bombing campaign. Many were convinced that the ends would be even worse than the means, and some of them were even cautiously advocating the status quo, since the Taliban could at least "keep the peace" between the warring factions of Afghanistan.

Now it seems that the worry and concern has also waned somewhat, among these same doubters and pessimists. In the bill, as an miscellaneous provision, the Congress finds:

inadequate amounts of international assistance promised by donor states at the Tokyo donors conference and elsewhere have been delivered to Afghanistan, imperiling the rebuilding and development of civil society and infrastructure, and endangering peace and security in that war-torn country.

This bill is a fine and respectable statement of the meaning of the US as it regards Afghanistan. Rebuilding and restoring the country will serve not only the Afghani people, but also go a long way towards proving the intent of the Americans in the war on terror. I urge the President to seek a quiet place, and ask for much wisdom, while carrying out his authority to restore that proud but war-torn country.

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Poll
Afghanistans Biggest Stumbling Block?
o Poppy Farming and Narcotics trade 2%
o Womens Rights and Repression 1%
o Warlords and Inter-tribal Anarchy 44%
o Bumbling, half-hearted nation-building 6%
o US interests at the expense of all else 33%
o Big-mouth countries who won't pay up 4%
o Uh, where's Afghanistan again? 4%

Votes: 103
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Full text of HR2712
o Afghanistan's Progress
o NYT Editorial (Nov 21)
o Afghan-Americans struggle raising funds as attention shifts away
o Big promises for Afghanistan
o US Committed to Helping Afghanistan as long as needed
o Also by imrdkl


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Big Bucks for Afghanistan | 42 comments (29 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
This Looks Promising (3.75 / 4) (#4)
by wanders on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 01:13:04 PM EST

The legislation has a good deal of focus on different aspects of constructing a new society in Afghanistan.
I am a bit disturbed that all I find when I search for "industries" is:

            (E) develop handicraft and other small-scale industries;

...and that there's no real mention of higher education, which seems to set the target a bit low. Perhaps $3b can only buy you so much. In any case I see a clear need for a follow-up to this restoration campaign. Perhaps not primarily to reduce the risk of Afghanistan returning to its previous state, but to increase overall stability in the region. The ideal would be an Afghanistan with a seriously upgraded educational system and the beginning of a tech industry, perhaps akin to China's.

Also, the legislation could perhaps have been a bit stronger on the importance of a transportation infrastructure than:

            (xiv) assistance in identifying and surveying key road and
        rail routes essential for economic renewal in Afghanistan and
        the region, support in reconstructing those routes, and support
        for the establishment of a customs service and training for
        customs officers.

...but that's nitpicking. All in all, this is good news, and it'll be interesting to see the outcome.
~
~
:x

Higher education (4.00 / 6) (#7)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 01:27:54 PM EST

If you had the US paying for Afghan educational rebuilding, we'd be charged with "brainwashing".

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
War torn country? (2.66 / 12) (#11)
by jabber on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 02:38:10 PM EST

Is it just me, or is there something deeply unsettling about the fact that the US is laying a guilt trip on the world, by using the term "war torn".

After all, yes, Afghanistan has been war torn for a long time now, but the US, as the most recent source of fast moving projectiles, really should use it's handiwork to extort money from the rest of the world.

Yes, they need money, yes the other countries said they'd contribute so they should now pony up their share.

But really, burning down someone's house, and then telling people to help the "victims of arson" is in extremely bad taste, I think.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

The US is only the most recent (4.50 / 4) (#12)
by Vygramul on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 02:43:37 PM EST

Given the US only added a year of war to a country that hasn't been at peace for over two decades, I don't think it's fair to imply the US is mostly responsible for its current state.


If Brute Force isn't working, you're not using enough.
[ Parent ]

And the other ten (none / 0) (#38)
by Mr Dyqik on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 11:13:49 AM EST

The US did support the Mudjaheddin (sp?) against the USSR throughout the eighties.  When the USSR went away, these weapons where the ones that local warlords used against each other, which eventually led to the rise of the Taliban.

Of course, if the US hadn't supported the Mudjaheddin, then the USSR would probably have held Afghanistan, and its army might not have collapsed far enough to allow its downfall, and the cold war might still be going on.  But Afghanistan would probably have been at "peace", occupied by the USSR.

Aren't "ifs and buts" fun?

[ Parent ]

Bad Analogy - Too simplistic! (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by HidingMyName on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 04:24:51 PM EST

But really, burning down someone's house, and then telling people to help the "victims of arson" is in extremely bad taste, I think.
This phrasing makes it sound like the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan were capricious and without provocation. That is patently false, they infiltrated our transportation system and blew up thousands of our citizens, bombed our military headquarters and blew up major financial center. Maybe you could express it like:
Burning down someones apartment building as the result of a firefight with a dangerous criminal who bombed buildings where innocent people lived and worked. This fugitive was harbored there by the landlord, forcing the police into an unfortunate situation. The police have replaced the old landlord and are rebuilding the apartments for the tenants. As a side effect, the accomodations will be improved over their previous state of disrepair.
If that is in bad taste, perhaps, (perhaps not) but at least try to give an accurate portrayal of the facts. It is very unfortunate that the U.S. had to go into Afghanistan at all, and you can rest assured that there is little to gain from the occupation (financially) and much to lose (life, financially, and degraded relationships with some Muslims).

[ Parent ]
What? (4.00 / 2) (#32)
by KnightStalker on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 07:47:51 PM EST

That is patently false, they infiltrated our transportation system and blew up thousands of our citizens, bombed our military headquarters and blew up major financial center.
What you said is also patently false. In fact, Afghanistan sheltered the organization that apparently did do this, but I've never heard anyone accuse the Taliban of being part of the plot. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

[ Parent ]
Protecting Conspirators = Participation (none / 0) (#39)
by HidingMyName on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 03:06:29 PM EST

That is patently false, they infiltrated our transportation system and blew up thousands of our citizens, bombed our military headquarters and blew up major financial center.
What you said is also patently false. In fact, Afghanistan sheltered the organization that apparently did do this, but I've never heard anyone accuse the Taliban of being part of the plot. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.
I don't blame Afghanistan, I blame the Taliban and factions supporting Al Qaeda. Sorry, but (the now retracted) claims of innocence by conspirators are made all the time, surely you are sophisticated enough to realize that they are often false. Also, running a safe house before and after a crime (recall the World Trade Center was attacked twice by these people) and keeping suspects out of the hands of the authorities in most jurisdictions is enough to make a charge of conspiracy stick. In this case the claims of innocence are completely disingenuous. First off, Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan for YEARS planning a well financed, highly organized and well coordinated effort. The Taliban were known to be especially vigilant in watching their citizens. Surely, you cannot believe that the Taliban leaders were totally ignorant of Al Qaeda's action. I don't hear any credible people saying that Osama Bin Ladin did not order the attacks, and I do not see Osama Bin Ladin in any jail or dead. So, you can go along believing that Osama Bin Ladin and his large Al Qaeda network duped the Taliban (an unlikely hypothesis) or believe that the Taliban and groups in Afghanistan were (and probably still are) aiding and abetting Al Qaeda.

[ Parent ]
"aiding and abetting" I'll agree with (none / 0) (#40)
by KnightStalker on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 05:58:04 PM EST

I believe the Taliban have been merely used as stooges by Osama & friends. There would be no reason for al Qaeda to tell the Taliban all their plans. Given the nature of their organization, probably few if any of their supporters know about anything they do before the fact. It's fair to say that the Taliban and others were complicit in the attack, but to say that they actually did it is quite a stretch.

[ Parent ]
Right. After all (3.80 / 5) (#27)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 04:40:02 PM EST

Afghanistan was a peaceful and prosperous nation before we invaded.

While the US does bear some responsibility - both from the current incursion and for arming the rebels in the 80's - there are several other fingers to be pointed, including at the soviets and at the Afghanis themselves.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Let me guess... (2.38 / 13) (#13)
by frankcrist on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 02:44:20 PM EST

Half of the money goes to Oil Production, and the other half to covert CIA operations to fence opium for guns to send to the Iraqi Kurds.

Am I close?

--x--x--x--x--x--
Get your war on!

What to do with the money? (2.00 / 10) (#16)
by EMHMark3 on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 02:48:58 PM EST

Hmm... How much does an oil pipeline cost to build?

T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S

Actually (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by Arthur Treacher on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:14:53 PM EST

The oil pipeline will be built with private funds.  The folks who want to build the pipeline will only do it if Afghanistan is reasonably stable, and their investments in equipment stand a reasonable chance of not being blown up or stolen piece by piece or 'liberated' by some rogue warlord.

"Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
[ Parent ]
US Public Funds are Spent Too (2.00 / 1) (#20)
by siobibble on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:35:51 PM EST

The oil pipeline will be built with private funds.

That's if you don't count the money the US military spends on the war in Afghanistan. The military still hasn't left yet, so to this day it is still spending money. This is assuming, of course, that the US' true motive for going to Afghanistan is for the pipeline....

[ Parent ]

An oil pipeline through Afghanistan (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by Arthur Treacher on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:58:22 PM EST

was in the works long before 9/11 and the reprisal for it.  Here's some links about that:
http://www.worldpress.org/specials/pp/pipeline_timeline.htm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1984459.stm
http://www.atimes.com/global-econ/CJ06Dj01.html
http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2001/10/13/stories/05132524.htm

"Henry Ford is more or less history" - Bunk
[ Parent ]
Screw conspiracies; Afghanistan needs our help. (4.85 / 14) (#19)
by mesozoic on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:33:45 PM EST

Enough of this conspiracy theorist crap about oil mongering. Afghanistan will be in no shape to support commercial oil production for many years to come.

One of the biggest problems facing Afghanistan is their transportation infrastructure. Decades of war have resulted in a country that has no highways. Dirt roads are all that connect most of the major cities, and this means commerce is simply unable to develop.

The first step to rebuilding Afghanistan is to help their economy to grow, and the best way to do that is to rebuild their highways. Not only will this strengthen trade between cities, it will also lead to development and expansion along those routes. With asphalt highways instead of desert paths, Afghanistan can truly begin to rebuild itself.

The problem? Most of the nations that pledged to aid reconstruction in Afghanistan are now backing down from actually giving money. As a result the US is going to foot most of the bill, a relatively thankless job. But ten years from now, when Afghanistan is showing signs of real progress, the world will know -- as they do now with Germany and Japan -- that America rebuilt a crumbling nation.

"Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right." -- Salvor Hardin, Isaac Asimov's Foundation

The Afghanistan situation (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by railruler on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:49:17 PM EST

Sure, there's generally order in the cities, where American troops are keeping the peace.

But step outside and see what the real Afghanistan is like... (via Cursor)

Time

the LA Times

USA Today

Yes, it's a big country (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by imrdkl on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 05:41:47 PM EST

And lawlessness won't disappear overnight. In several of the referenced articles above, the reports note that additional military assistance will be necessary to establish the infrastructure. The primary emphasis for the military in the bill itself regards training the local law enforcement, although some supplies may be forthcoming from these funds as well.

I guess we'll see what they come up with, to calm the wild regions, or even if it can be done at all. Right now, I want to believe that it can be done, but yes, it's going to take money, power, and order, besides wisdom. Not to mention the contractors.

[ Parent ]

Sorry... (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 07:28:28 PM EST

..I can't take that cursor.org site seriously. I reads like an advertisement for used furniture. Plus, it changes the topic every three words. I listen to smart people with considered arguments, not loud ranting loons with 'End of the World' sandwich-boards.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Nice to know the mouse still roars sometimes (4.80 / 5) (#22)
by Pac on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:54:49 PM EST

It is impossible not to remember the Peter Seller's classic where a small country that decides to solve its economic problems by losing a war with the United States.

My only question would be if Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Haiti, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Yemen, Cape Verde, Comoros, Kiribati, Maldives, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu* need a war too or they can expect a similar treatment in the near future (even though most of these countries do not harbour anti-American terrorists nor have land where "some" people would like to build an oil pipeline).

* Those plus Afghanistan are, according to the UNICEF, the 49 poorest countries in the world.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Nikes for everyone! (2.00 / 1) (#23)
by dr k on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 03:57:37 PM EST

And a copy of "Who Moved My Cheese?"


Destroy all trusted users!

Wow (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by miasma on Mon Nov 25, 2002 at 04:10:10 PM EST

This bill is a fine and respectable statement of the meaning of the US as it regards Afghanistan.

If the money is really used in this way, I agree completely, as the usual whiny US-bashing european. I am surprised (and still doubt it a bit).

Fine article, +1FP

--
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." - G.Bush sen.

I have a question for you imrdkl (none / 0) (#33)
by ROBOKATZ on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 12:58:26 AM EST

How do I pronounce your user name? Do I say each letter, or do I try to pronounce it as one word. I would assume the latter except for the conspicuous lack of vowels.

Er (none / 0) (#34)
by imrdkl on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 03:55:15 AM EST

Well, I answered this question recently from turmeric, here.

[ Parent ]
Still not getting to the root of the problem (none / 0) (#35)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 10:06:15 PM EST

Contrary to the wishes of the founders of the US, the US has become the world's "cop"-the most interventionist country in the world. Personally, I think this is really a crime. There are so many other things the pioneering spirit of the United States could be used to do besides propping up a religious wet dream in the Middle East. In 1998, the US backed out of a proposed international consortium to create a fusion reactor. Now, I think a government funded program is really the wrong way to approach creating a real technical break through-a far better approach would would be a series of prize awards(which is something Baldrson here proposed a while back). Still, here the US government is, messing around in a region, getting ready to blow possibly $150 Billion on a middle eastern war, when social security is in a mess and when according to their own "experts", with $10 Billion in investment, a major source the the reason for that war could just plain disappear(i.e. if fusion were really practical, the strategic importance of oil would change dramatically). This all strikes me like something out of a bad dream.

Still not getting to the root of the problem (4.00 / 2) (#36)
by nomoreh1b on Tue Nov 26, 2002 at 10:07:07 PM EST

Contrary to the wishes of the founders of the US, the US has become the world's "cop"-the most interventionist country in the world.

Personally, I think this is really a crime. There are so many other things the pioneering spirit of the United States could be used to do besides propping up a religious wet dream in the Middle East.

In 1998, the US backed out of a proposed international consortium to create a fusion reactor. Now, I think a government funded program is really the wrong way to approach creating a real technical break through-a far better approach would would be a series of prize awards(which is something Baldrson here proposed a while back).

Still, here the US government is, messing around in a region, getting ready to blow possibly $150 Billion on a middle eastern war, when social security is in a mess and when according to their own "experts", with $10 Billion in investment, a major source the the reason for that war could just plain disappear(i.e. if fusion were really practical, the strategic importance of oil would change dramatically). This all strikes me like something out of a bad dream.

Railways are their future (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by RaveWar on Wed Nov 27, 2002 at 04:16:47 AM EST

Look at a map of afghanistan and you will see that there are absolutely no railway lines within the country at all.

If what is desired is to build a "nation" in the form familiar to Westerners some form of infrastructure to bind the people together is needed. A few motorways paid for by the international community is not going to do much for social cohesion: it has not worked where I live. Rail transport however creates great benefit for all of society, and in a low tech country such as Afghanistan it is easier to run steam locomotives in the meantime rather than diesels which would need not only expensive fuel but also spare parts and technical skills which do not yet exist natively...

Steam trains will attract tourists - before you know what is happening the cash will be starting to flow. In addition, many rail enthusiasts would love to help out with such a venture.
We don't need freedom. We don't need love.
We want Superpower, Ultraviolence.

Doubtful^2 (none / 0) (#43)
by epepke on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:27:20 PM EST

The only place you can reliably get new steam locomotives is China. They don't require substantially less technical maintenance than diesel engines. They don't require diesel fuel, but they do require water. They also blow up every once in a while.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
The Tora Bora caves complex (none / 0) (#42)
by stpna5 on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 04:48:50 AM EST

was very expensive, built by the CIA, and you won't be able to find a price tag or any satellite photos of it either, because even those were bought up for security purposes. Ironically, some think that is precisely where the ground war on al Qaeda was lost as our surrogate, recently-turned, cadre of local warriors were sent in instead of our best and baddest troops (for fear of Christmas season casualties) ---remember the sudden firefights in the area about 11 months ago?---bad news. The "evil doers" slipped off into Pakistan and from there abroad, so we/our allies aren't going to bring anything more expensive than the Soviets did to Afghanistan. I don't believe all the hype. Too many 'black' budgets afield in Foggy Bottom around these incompetent, competing agencies.

Big Bucks for Afghanistan | 42 comments (29 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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