By Jason Williams
Oregon Tax News,
Bloggers and opinion makers are calling Afghanistan a rat hole and are asking to pull funds and support. At stake has been the $58 billion dollar funding bill which was hotly debated by Congress.
Why Afghanistan is important and deserves our support
Before 9/11 was even plotted, Osama Bin Laden tried unsuccessfully to set up operations in several nations but was continually rejected. Afghanistan was under Taliban tyranny. It became the perfect place to set-up large scale terrorist camps. Afghanistan is not just important because it helped bring about one of America’s most violent attacks, but it is extremely important to Bin Laden and is a critical strategic area for terrorism on many levels. Consider how losing in Afghanistan will put the nuclear nation of Pakistan at greater risk.
Why is the casualty rate rising?
There are three reasons why the causality rate is rising in Afghanistan. First, when the Iraq war started Al Qaeda focused their resources and manpower in Iraq as a way to attack America at a weak point. We successfully defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq and as a result they began to re-focus on Afghanistan along with the Taliban. Second, elements in Iran have begun sending resources to our enemies which has made the resurgent more powerful. Finally, the causalities are rising in Afghanistan because the surge is still in its early months of operation.
All of these explanations are exact reasons why we should not give up now and instead support the War in Afghanistan. We defeated Al Qaeda in Iraq so we have a realistic chance to do the same in Afghanistan. Iranian forces are already destabilizing other nations using the same covert interference so why not stop them where it matters to U.S. interest the most? A set-back to these forces would be a set-back to their violent interference in the wider Middle East region. As stated with the surge, casualties increase because manpower is being increased and troops are playing a more engaging role in each community inorder to clear and hold those communities for the long term.
Stop calling it “nation-building”
Nation building can be a blank check to nowhere but long term success depends on our success at empowering the good guys in a country to fight the bad guys – which is different. We are making some progress in this area. Troops levels have gone from a small 13,000 (2003) to 134,000 (2010) (troop level). Officers and non-commissioenr officers graduates went from 6,700 in 2009 to 25,500 in 2009 (Officer graduates).
The resurgence of commerce in Afghanistan’s cities is creating a new generation of small business owners and consumers who whose interest is Afghanistan’s stability. Over five years Afghanistan has seen average positive growth rates in GDP (10%), exports (5%) and Imports (12%) (Afghan economics). Electricty total capacity has risen fives times since 2002 and telephone users have increased from, under 200,000 (2002) to 12 million today (Afghan electricty). The number of private contractors went from 71,000 in 2008 to 107,000 in 2009 (Afghan contractors).
The recent announcement that geologists have discovered almost a trillion dollars worth of copper, gold cobalt and lithium is a new door opportunity to utilize those resources to empower the good guys. There have been elections in Afghanistan where there once was none. When asked Afghanistans choose the current government and support for the Taliban does not hit double digits (Afghanistan poll).
Four million refugees have returned. Before the war no women attended school. As of this year there were 2.5 million girls enrolled in school (Afghanistan education). Combined with the boys attending school for the first time and you now have millions of people being intellectually empowered to fight to control their own destiny.
With many Afghanistan successes also comes tragic examples of government corruption, misuse of billions and benchmarks way off mark. Many successes I cite come with legitimate counter balancing negatives. The overall picture is that progress has been made and is worth building on. The Petreaus strategy has worked in Iraq and the modified plan deserves a chance to work in Afghanistan and deserves our support. Talking about pulling out, dropping support, or cutting off taxpayer funding creates risks diplomatically, strategically and creates problems on the ground. The strategy deserves a chance to succeed, then America can assess what direction should be taken.