Reconstruction Aid to Afghanistan Halved;
Or, “Don’t Forget to Write!”
Now that it has been announced that the US won’t seek more reconstruction aid for Iraq. it also turns out that the Bush administration has reduced reconstruction aid in Afghanistan from $1 bn. a year to a little ove $600 mn. The US is pulling out 3,000 troops and turning the south over to NATO. The troop pull-out in my view is a good thing– Afghanistan is not a country that will accept a large foreign military presence, especially that of an imperial power, for very long. NATO has more legitimacy. As for fears of resurgent Taliban, they are reasonable fears. But if they genuinely become resurgent, then presumably that will be the time to deal with them.
But the cut in reconstruction aid is tragic. The US gives $2 billion a year to Egypt and $3 billion a year (actually much more) to Israel. The US budget is something like $2 trillion. Isn’t rebuilding Afghanistan to the point where it doesn’t fall into chaos again and threaten the world as a result worth as much as helping Egypt and Israel remain at peace? Half of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product now comes from poppy sales. Europe is being flooded with its heroin, and the danger of narco-terrorism on a Colombian scale is ever present.
Afghanistan is desperately poor, devastated by a quarter century of war, deeply harmed by a decade of drought that only recently ended, and beset by ethnic and ideological divisions that recently made the place a prime base for al-Qaeda. Bush promised to reconstruct it after the Afghanistan war. How many times will the US get deeply involved there, help throw the country into chaos, and then just walk away?
Rumsfeld said it all. Afghanistan has no good targets (economic or otherwise).