Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The center cannot hold: US cuts and runs from Afghanistan

The Pentagon is cutting and running from Afghanistan, as India extends its proxy war to Pakistan's western border: AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you with us. What is your assessment of the situation in Afghanistan right now, from where you've just come out of? AHMED RASHID: It's very, very bleak, on all sides. There has been a failure by the international community to deliver enough funding for reconstruction, enough troops for security, and this is something the Afghans have been warning about for a long time, two or three years. There's been a failure on the side of the Afghan government and President Karzai, himself, to show really effective leadership and to get rid of a lot of corrupt and drug-induced warlords, who he's been ruling with. There has been also a failure of the neighboring states, who continue to interfere, particularly the accusations that Pakistan has been harboring Taliban, which Karzai and most Afghans completely believe. So what we have now, of course, is this -- we have two problems. We have a major insurgency in the south, where no longer is it just the case of hundreds of Taliban massing, but thousands of Taliban are now massing to take on the NATO and American forces in the south. And we have a failure of governments in Kabul, where the international community and Karzai have been blaming each other for this debacle.... ...India has come back into Afghanistan after more than a decade, when it was ousted during the Mujahideen and the Taliban period, but there is now this kind of proxy war going on between India and Pakistan, which of course has gone on for the last 50 years on the eastern border, in Kashmir and other places. Now it is taking place on Pakistan's western border, as well. ... I mean, the signals coming from the Defense Department are that the U.S. wants to pull out some troops. It wants to cut funding from the DOD. What has been, I think, totally criminal, that is the -- Rumsfeld informed Karzai several months ago that the Afghan army, which the Americans are training and funding, would not be as large as originally planned. They would get fewer weapons, and that from this year on, the Afghan government, which has absolutely no money, should be paying the salaries of the troops, rather than the Americans, who have been paying the salaries for the last two years. Now, you know, I mean, in the midst of a Taliban offensive, for Rumsfeld to say something like that is not much of a morale booster if you're an Afghan soldier or an Afghan general.
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