- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

Maintaining control in Afghanistan will require soldiers who come intending to "shoot and kill people," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in Kabul during a weekend fact-finding mission.
"I'm not talking about [international] peacekeepers. I'm not talking about [U.N.] blue helmets. I'm talking about people who shoot and kill people," Mr. Biden said Saturday. "I'm talking about people who are a bunch of badasses who will come in here with guns and understand that they don't have to check with anybody before they return fire."
Mr. Biden, Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his comments although in softer terms during an appearance yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
On the show, Mr. Biden said Afghanistan needs an international security force in place to maintain some kind of order within the government and among its citizens.
"If this new government's going to have any chance, there has to be an international security force here in place to give confidence to all the parties who have been at war with one another for over 23 years," Mr. Biden said in the interview.
Mr. Biden also said yesterday Afghanistan will need between $10 billion and $15 billion in international aid over the next five to 10 years to recover from two decades of war. He said the United States will probably contribute $1 billion to $3 billion of that amount.
"I'm only talking about $30 [million] to $40 million sum total for a year so the government can have desks, telephones, lights and pay the salaries," Mr. Biden said in the interview. "Can you imagine any functioning government anywhere in the world where they're unable to pay any salaries to any employees?"
At a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Saturday, Mr. Biden told reporters Afghanistan needs an armed multilateral force that will maintain order within the government.
Without any order, Mr. Biden warned, the country will revert "very quickly" to a civil war that gave birth to the Taliban, allowing it to seize power in 1996 promising a regime that would enforce strict law and order.
Mr. Biden said it will take the new government at least two years to put an army together, and in the meantime, Afghanistan will need a tough fighting force from outside to maintain order.
"I am talking about pursuers. I'm talking about a tough, rough, militarily controlled no 'sign-off by,' no diplomatic requirement to determine whether they can return fire.
"If we have these guys here, I want them to be able to return fire or initiate fire," Mr. Biden added. "I want to make it real clear. I ain't talking about peace, love and brotherhood."
At the Saturday news conference, Mr. Biden also said he met Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai, and members of Mr. Karzai's interim government.
On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Mr. Biden described Mr. Karzai as "extremely sophisticated and knowledgeable."
"He has the sophistication and the political skills and I mean that in the best sense of the word sort of Eisenhower political skills during World War II of bringing disparate groups together," Mr. Biden said.
The U.S.-backed interim government is scheduled to give way in six months to a council that would select a new administration. Two years after that council's administration, a general election is expected to be held to install a more democratic government.
On Saturday, Mr. Biden called the northern side of Kabul "the most devastating site" he's seen during his 29 years as senator.
"The extent of the devastation here is almost, as one leading American columnist said, it is the other end of ground zero," Mr. Biden said, referring to the obliterated World Trade Center in New York City, where nearly 3,000 people died in the September 11 terrorist attack.
"It is astounding," Mr. Biden said at the press conference. "I have been, in 29 years, to most of the devastated parts of the world. I cannot recall seeing something as devastated as this city. And the bulk of that destruction occurred in a civil war, not because of U.S. bombing."
Muslim guerrillas, with finances and arms from the United States and elsewhere, resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but later squabbled among themselves in the early 1990s. Then the Taliban took over and did not rebuild the country's infrastructure as promised.
Mr. Biden said the first step to rebuilding Afghanistan is getting rid of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group, which it harbored.
"That job is not done yet," he said.
"I consider [the job] being done when, God willing, two years from now there is a viable government sputtering along in fits and starts, and is up and running," Mr. Biden said.
Richard S. Ehrlich reported from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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