- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Afghanistan’s economy is still recovering from decades of war and oppression: The majority of the population lives in mud-brick homes. They have no electricity or running water - and have poor sanitation. Despite massive amounts of foreign aid, the country is still embroiled in the drug trade and is rife with graft and corruption. Terrorists therefore pluck recruits from those in rural areas who are desperate. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently echoed the Afghan leader’s position that the nation’s prosperity and security are intricately linked: “It is a mistake to think of security and reconstruction as somehow different parts of the problem,” she said.

Americans do have a vested interest in rebuilding Afghanistan and preventing the nation from sliding back into the hands of the Taliban. The problem, however, is that massive amounts of foreign aid provide limited results unless there is strict accountability. The U.S. must work to ensure that the funds provided lead to the achievement of specific objectives. The World Bank/IMF review of the proposed Afghan development strategy recommends that Afghanistan must improve its financial management and budgeting systems before it can effectively implement infrastructure reforms. Also, U.S. aid must be used as leverage to ensure that the Afghan government arrests drug lords in the country and cracks down on lawbreakers. Mr. Karzai was recently characterized by Western officials as being weak and ineffective: He refused to arrest a notorious warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, for fear of alienating his supporters. Gen. Dostum attacked one of his rivals and almost killed him.

An economic strategy for Afghanistan must also be coordinated with the current military strategy enacted by NATO. Americans should insist - despite Mr. Karzai’s objections - that an international coordinator be appointed to oversee the military and political effort. The president is rightly calling for more NATO troops in the region. NATO must also be more active in building an effective Afghan police and army. The narcotics trade which finances terrorist activity must be disrupted. Finally, an effective long-term strategy in Afghanistan requires consistent and coordinated NATO efforts to undermine the Taliban in Pakistan’s border region - whose influence seeps into Afghanistan and causes instability.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide