Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The forgotten reconstruction

Afghanistan is dominated by warlords. Surprise!

First, YABL:

By helping to build an Afghanistan that is free from this evil and is a better place in which to live, we are working in the best traditions of George Marshall.


Marshall knew that our military victory against enemies in World War II had to be followed by a moral victory that resulted in better lives for individual human beings.

Well, to be fair—the misLeader doesn't actually call for a Marshall plan. But is it even "technically accurate" to say that an Afghanistan run by warlords is a moral victory?
Todd Pittman of the AP writes:

In a report released Monday night, Human Rights Watch accused soldiers and police loyal to powerful warlords many of whom are in the government of kidnapping, extortion, robbery and the rape of women, girls and boys. The New York-based group also detailed numerous death threats against Afghan journalists and low-level politicians who criticized authorities.

''If allowed to continue with impunity, these abuses will make it impossible for Afghans to create a modern, democratic state,'' the group said.

President Hamid Karzai's administration has been struggling to rebuild this war-shattered country and extend the central government's authority beyond Kabul, the capital. Most of Afghanistan is controlled by warlords who rule as they see fit and have private armies of their own.

Most of those now in power were backed by the United States and its allies in the war that toppled the Taliban in late 2001 and many still work as allies alongside American troops now in the country.

Karzai appointed many of the warlords as governors because they already controlled areas in the lawless wake of the Taliban's collapse.

His government is supposed to draft a new constitution in October and government officials are traveling through the countryside to solicit public views on what the charter should contain. National elections to choose a new head of state are scheduled for next June.

Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, said the overall human rights situation appeared to be worsening, in part because of U.S. and other allied support for warlords.

''External support for warlords is destabilizing Afghanistan,'' Adams said. ''The United States and the United Kingdom, in particular, need to decide whether they are with President Karzai and other reformers in Kabul or with the warlords. The longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to loosen the warlords' grip on power.''

Sound familiar? Let's hope not. Suppose, just suppose, in Iraq, a truly democratic election were held, and the Shi'ites came in first... WWG1D? ("What would George I do?") The "reconstruction" of Afghanistan—remember when Bush forgot to put money for it into the budget?— may provide a clue.