View Full Version : Update on Afghanistan

Feb 24, 2003, 07:37 PM
Let's not forget a UN (mostly US) force is charged with rebuilding Afghanistan.
Read this report on how it's going. (http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia_china/story.jsp?story=381093)

Feb 24, 2003, 09:35 PM
Inspections will disarm Saddam.

Those are foolish words based on wishful thinking. Even the inspectors say they cannot disarm Saddam, only verify that his is disarming himself. He isn't, they can't.

Feb 24, 2003, 11:19 PM
For pete's sake, can't we rebuild the last country before we start bombing the next one? That article's pretty sad. But who didn't see it coming?

Feb 24, 2003, 11:22 PM
There wasn't much to bomb in Afghanistan.

Feb 25, 2003, 07:29 AM
That article read like the tremulous ranting of someone desperate to make a point. There were very few hard facts- instead, we're told about "persistent whispers" and "unsettling little tremors," and "a deep concern." Whose?

"People," "plenty," and "Afghans" are referenced, but no one seems to want to speak on record. Why can't this writer get anyone to give their name- other than two Afghans who maintain that things are better now than before?

He then quotes a sermon by an Army chaplain and uses it to paint American military personnel as fundamentalists. Yeah, and all Brits are pagan monarchists because they have a Queen and what's all that Stonehenge stuff about, anyway? A ridiculous statement, but on the same level as this supposed reporter's conclusion.

Next, we're told that the US effort to topple the Taliban is a failure because there are several hundred Taliban left in Afghanistan. News flash, Phil: there's hundreds of Nazis in Europe, too. Does that mean the Brits didn't finish that toss up back in '45? A military victory over the ruling party doesn't mean everybody automatically gives up their loyalties, and to the credit of the US forces, they don't try to mask that fact.

When he finally gets around to laying blame, it REALLY gets interesting:

The UN and Hamid Karzai have tried to persuade the international community to tackle the resulting "security vacuum" by extending Kabul's peace-keeping force, the International Security Assistance Force, (Isaf) to key provincial cities ? exporting the relative stability that they have created within the capital.

These efforts failed. The Pentagon has proposed a cheaper option: dispatching reconstruction teams of 80 to 100 dominated by US reservists to provincial centres. But this has met strong opposition from international aid agencies.

ISAF is mainly composed of countries that wanted no part of the fighting but didn't want to be left out of the peace- Germany chief among them. Apparently, they are not willing to extend their commitment beyond the one point in Afghanistan where the international media can see what nice guys they are.

The one party that seems to want to move forward with the reconstruction is- surprise, surprise- the Pentagon! However, this plan is OPPOSED by international aid agencies. Why? No reason is given. Perhaps because any teams would have to operate under the protection of the dreaded fundamentalist US forces, since the Germans won't leave the safety of Kabul.

The bottom line is that if you trim speculation, rumor and conjecture from this article, it drops to a three paragraph report about how the international community is not willing to pick up the ball with regards to their commitments made after the US did the heavy lifting to topple the Taliban, and the only ongoing efforts that exist today are the result of the US military. Hardly the sort of fatalistic report the readers of the Independent (and apparently, some Macrumors posters) are hoping to read.

Feb 25, 2003, 12:23 PM

Hardly the sort of fatalistic report the readers of the Independent (and apparently, some Macrumors posters) are hoping to read.
Yeah I'd say there are a handful of people here that want very badly to paint the Afghani campaign as an Americian failiure, presumably in order to make Bush+co look worse.

Feb 25, 2003, 09:09 PM
Yeah I'd say there are a handful of people here that want very badly to paint the Afghani campaign as an Americian failiure, presumably in order to make Bush+co look worse.
I think this is partly true. I also think that the critics expected (or wanted) the Afghan campaign to be much shorter in duration. Yet I haven't heard one American official say that ANY aspect of our fight against radical Muslim fanaticism would be quick or easy. Some estimates have run to as much as 10 years. That we haven't abandoned Afghanistan like we did a couple of decades ago shows a much greater commitment and a greater level of patience -- two qualities we and the Afghans are gonna need.

As for attacking Iraq while our work in Afghanistan isn't finished, we can only hope that the US has some assuredness in something they can't reveal until after Saddam's gone. There are elements within Iraq that are ready to go with us, but not much more than that I'm aware of. There are Kurdish rebels in the north (similar to the help we received in Afghanistan), and there's the INC as well. *IF* we get the help of the Iraqi people once Saddam is gone, this will not be as messy as many seem to think.

Either way, 9/11 showed us that our ME enemies are willing to hold no punches. The only reason NYC was not vaporized is because they didn't have the resources to do that. Thank God. We have to stop these loonies or they will stop us. If we pacify and appease, afraid that they might hit us again if we initiate anymore attacks, then we have surely lost this fight and might as well start praying to Allah or prepare ourselves to die for not doing so. That, or we might as well see our nation fall back to broken national morale and global disrespect like under the pacifistic Jimmy Carter days. Radical pacifism does not work. It only whets the appetites of your enemies. (Of course, balance in all things--jumping to war over the slightest provocation is destructive as well.)

As for inspections, they don't work. They haven't for 12 years. All they've done is force Saddam to get creative. And once Iraq is occupied, not only will this stop, but Syria and Iran will probably be on their best behavior--considering that we'll be right at their back door.

As for the $$ cost, it's gonna be heavy-duty. But I'd rather suffer that than watch NYC or Wash DC lose a hundred thousand people in a chemical bomb attack. Perhaps the Arabs were right: we don't have the stomach for this. Unfortunately, they do. That antiwar activists want to paint this as racism or an oil war is evidence for another agenda, complete spinelessness or total naivety (sp?).

Feb 28, 2003, 12:41 AM
After you read that report, read this one.


Feb 28, 2003, 01:26 AM
Could you either copy/paste the text or email it to me? I could not get into their site. Thanks.

Feb 28, 2003, 12:48 PM
I linked this not to show that everything is wonderful in Afghanistan, just to show that there's more than one way to report the story. One should be aware of more than just one side.

Now, It's Business That Booms
With Bombs Mostly Silenced, Commerce and Confidence Are Growing in Kabul

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 26, 2003; Page A16

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The day Taliban soldiers fled this capital, Sabir Latifa had $9,000 in savings from his dried fruit exports and a head filled with ideas about how to do business in a changed Afghanistan.

He started small by fixing up some guesthouses for the journalists and aid workers who flocked to Kabul when the Taliban left in November 2001. Then he branched into cars and a hotel and the capital's first private Internet cafe. Fifteen months later, Latifa has a business empire he says is worth $500,000, and he hopes to build a water bottling plant, more hotels outside Kabul, a computer store and even a chain of Internet cafes around the country.

He did it all in the midst of political chaos, with frequent security concerns, without the help of a bank to lend him money, and in an investment climate that can only be described as extremely challenging.

But Latifa, a longtime Kabul resident, says that where others saw unacceptable risks, he saw the opportunity of a lifetime.

"There is so much money to be made in Afghanistan now," he said in English learned in a Pakistani refugee camp. "The country has been held back for 25 years, and now is the time to invest and do business. Afghans are very good at this -- we've been doing it since the time of the Silk Road."

Although countries around the world have promised more than $4 billion in aid to rebuild Afghanistan, there are today very few visible signs of the planned roads and schools and infrastructure projects. There are, however, signs throughout the capital, and in many provinces, of fast and dramatic change as Afghans and some intrepid foreigners open shops, businesses and even factories, quickly put up buildings to house them, and buy enough cars to create daily traffic jams.

In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.

President Hamid Karzai, who will meet President Bush in Washington on Thursday, points to this mini-boom as one of the most important accomplishments of his fledgling administration, a sign that people are voting with their money. "People wouldn't start businesses and rebuild their homes here unless they believed that peace and security were coming to Afghanistan," he said in a recent interview. "This is the most positive sign of all."

Shair Bar Hakemy, the business adviser to Karzai and himself a refugee turned entrepreneur who made a fortune in Texas commercial real estate and hotels, said that the price of real estate in some parts of Kabul is now higher per square foot than in downtown Dallas. "My family and friends back in America have difficulty seeing past all the headlines about troubles here," he said. "But the truth is that Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan are changing quickly for the better."

Many of those perceived troubles are real and worrisome, and nobody would mistake Kabul for a prosperous and peaceful city. Sections are still in ruins, and many of the 600,000 returning refugees who have flooded the city live precariously on the margins. Islamic militants remain determined to destabilize and oust the Karzai government through violence, and periodic attacks continue. There is also concern that the flashier developments could offend conservative Afghan attitudes and create a dangerously wide divide between the relatively rich and the very poor.

But whatever the risks, the Kabul of today is almost unrecognizable as the austere city ruled not long ago by the Taliban -- or as the place where warring Islamic militias demolished neighborhood after neighborhood, or where Soviets presided over a rebellious socialist state.

While the current business mini-boom involves mostly small-scale projects, some see it as a harbinger of bigger investments from abroad.

"Large foreign investors look to local entrepreneurs -- the people on the ground -- for signals on the business environment in a place like this," said William B. Taylor Jr., the special representative for donor assistance at the U.S. Embassy. "And the signal now is pretty positive."

Since last summer, the embassy has held monthly round tables to bring together local and international businessmen and Afghan government leaders to discuss opportunities and problems. American diplomats say the meetings started with five firms, and now could easily draw 100 -- if there were a room large enough to hold them all. Topics include such basics as the absence of banks, the fact that property ownership is often unclear, and a bureaucracy that can be infuriating and corrupt.

"The goal is to show businessmen that while there are obvious challenges here, there is also a government committed to building a private sector," a U.S. diplomat said. As part of the outreach effort, the Afghan government will sponsor, with American assistance, a trade and investment show in Chicago this summer. The United States is also helping with some financing of projects. Before Hyatt agreed to manage a Kabul hotel, for instance, it needed assistance from the Overseas Private Investment Corp., a federal agency that specializes in making loans where other banks won't.

While much of the money being invested today is coming from Afghans here and abroad, U.S. and international military and aid programs are surely making the expansion possible. More than 4,000 foreign troops are now in Kabul and another 9,000 U.S. and allied troops are stationed in Afghanistan, many at the Bagram air base 35 miles north of the capital. Without them, the relative peace in Kabul would not likely last long.

Several thousand diplomats, aid workers and other foreigners also live in Kabul, and the most visible part of the new business caters to their needs. It remains an open question whether the new Kabul can sustain itself when some of those relief workers go home.

But the Afghan government, along with some embassies, is working to keep and expand the international presence. The first big wave of foreigners to arrive after the Taliban fled were journalists, who often paid top dollar for homes and services. Most are now gone, but more permanent businessmen are taking up the slack. According to Commerce Minister Seyyed Mustafa Kazemi, the number of foreign firms setting up shop in Afghanistan is growing fast.

He said that in the past six months, his ministry has approved 2,600 business licenses, compared with 2,045 in the 45 years before. Many were given to foreign firms, he said, or those headed by Afghans living abroad who want to return to their homeland. These licensed businesses are the large ones that will pay all taxes and other government fees; most Afghan businesses still open without registration and beyond the reach of central government tax collectors.

"The markets of the world are saturated now, but Afghanistan is a virgin market," Kazemi said. "Our resources have not been developed, our people are have been forced to buy substandard products, and there are opportunities everywhere. . . . This ministry wants to be a friend to the business community, and that has never really happened before."

Latifa, the hotel and computer pioneer, said he didn't get much help from his government, but neither did it stand in his way. And while he is eager to form joint ventures with foreign investors, the financing he has gotten so far has come the old-fashioned way, from his savings and loans from friends, family and those who worked on his projects.

"When I opened the Internet cafe, my friends thought I was crazy," said Latifa, 33. "But it's been in business about two months now, and it has already paid for itself."

"The government and [international aid organizations] won't make Afghans stand on their own feet," he said. "Businessmen will do it."

Feb 28, 2003, 07:28 PM
One would have to be either terribly naive or just plain blind to think that the Allied action in Afghanistan hasn't been a tremendous victory in the war against terrorist organizations.

Prior to the war, Al-Qaeda was running dozens of terrorist camps unmolested in their Afghan haven. In the years between 1993 and 2001, it's estimated they trained and graduated nearly 80,000 disciples. That safe haven has been denied to them.

Additionally, information gleaned from operations in Afghanistan has helped to prevent further terrorist attacks- a notable one being attacks on American civilian and military installations in Singapore.

The main reason for the assault on Afghanistan was to dismantle the regime of a country that supported our terrorist enemies. This has happened, and it happened much faster and easier than anyone imagined. All the whining about "another Vietnam" and ferocious warriors that defeated the Soviets evaporated as quickly as the Taliban's resistance.

Rebuilding Afghanistan was never the main goal- it's just a prudent move to prevent a backslide into a terrorist nurturing regime. Sadly, the peace loving Europeans seem to have dropped the ball after we warmongering Americans snatched it away from the Taliban.