Afghans Tell Obama: Send Engineers, Not Troops
by ralphlopez, Tue Mar 03, 2009 at 08:50:04 AM EST
Obama's plans to send more troops coupled with his failure to detail any plans to address Afghanistan's forty percent unemployment rate, and the general misery in which most Afghans live, is bringing opposition to the troops surge from Afghans themselves.
A CS Monitor Report today states:
Parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai says she has an innovative amendment to Washington's planned injection of up to 30,000 new troops here. "Send us 30,000 scholars instead. Or 30,000 engineers. But don't send more troops - it will just bring more violence."
This is a country where three-fourths of the people have no access to safe drinking water, a major source of disease and death. One out of four children dies before the age of five. The average lifespan is 43.
Another report reveals:
In Kabul there are 180 maternity beds in public hospitals serving a population of 4 million. Every half hour a woman dies in delivery.
What is it that Americans aren't getting again? That no amount of their guns and bullets will win over a population which has never been successfully occupied, even though just about everyone has tried?
It gets better: One employer IS hiring. THE TALIBAN! It pays $8 a day, a small fortune in this country. You might not like the work, but that's who's hiring.
So far Obama's approach has "quagmire" written all over it.
"There is a low percentage of the total Taliban force who we would call ideologically driven. We refer to them as Tier 1 people who believe their ideology, that what they're doing is right. The vast majority of Taliban fighters are essentially economically disadvantaged young men."
- Col. Tom Collins, the top Pentagon spokesman in Afghanistan.
"Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families" - General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
Interview with young Taliban fighter, from International Center for War and Peace Reporting:
For 19-year-old Jaan Agha from Nawa district, the choice was stark - join the Taleban or watch his family starve.
"I couldn't find a job anywhere," he said. "So I had to join the Taleban. They give me money for my family expenditures. If I left the Taleban, what else could I do?"
Regional solution alone won't work
The current talking point from the pointy-heads on TV is that Afghanistan must entail a "regional solution," an over-obvious prescription referring partly to instability in Pakistan and partly to the administration's need to look like it has ideas beyond sending more troops. But the reason Pakistan is so unstable is we have been propping up an SOB dictator there for years, which is why the Taliban is starting to look so good to people.
As usual our lip service to democracy is not matching our actions, and it pisses people off more than if we had just kept our mouth shut about democracy. The "regional solution" advocates are just more tweed jackets thinking they are playing with chess pieces, not peoples' lives. Focus on the discontent in Afghanistan, and Pakistan fades in relevance. If we really want to stabilize Pakistan we can push the army to have fair elections. Oh yes, but we might not like who wins...so much for democracy.