Bonn's Second Conference on Afghanistan: What Should Be Expected?

The devastating and tragic event of 9/11 landed American forces in Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda who had taken shelter there. The intrigue has lasted more than a decade and continuing, although Osama bin Laden and his cronies slipped into Pakistan in October of 2001 and bin Laden was executed in Pakistan in 2011 . The decade-long occupation of the U.S. has caused many Afghans to have doubts the true intentions of the United States in Afghanistan. The 9/11 event is viewed by Afghans as an Arab criminal conspiracy in which the Afghans had no part in it. Therefore the link is lost between 9/11 and the long occupation of Afghanistan. Besides, more than 50% of the population of Afghanistan are below the age of 15 years of age and do not remember the events of 9/11 tragedy.

In November of 2001 under the auspices of the United States, the first Bonn summit was held to create a government of Afghanistan to succeed the Taliban. A retired State Department official, James Dobbins, selected Mr. Hamid Karzai president of Afghanistan based on his ethnicity (he was a Populzai Pashtun) and to appease the Iranian and Russian delegates while disenfranchising participants of the Afghanistan delegation whose votes for president was ignored..

Unfortunately the first Bonn summit was a sham; it turned into a fiasco with disastrous results for the Afghans and the occupying forces of ISAF, NATO and the United States. During 2001 - 2011 as the United States increased its troop level from a few hundred in 2001 to 100,000 by 2011, the security situation got worse and U.S. and Afghan casualties mounted annually. August 2011 was the worst month for 70 U.S. soldiers who died, bringing the total dead to 1,762 with more than 10,000 who have suffered disabilities. Afghan civilian casualty estimates vary between 15,000 - 25,000 dead and approximately 100,000 disabled. U.S. counterinsurgency approach in Afghanistan was not effective. During the same period, warlords and drug lords who had fled the Taliban returned to power and grabbed wealth. Karzai's government was repeatedly accused of rampant corruption by the international community. The central government failed to reach to the 36,000 Afghan villages.

A second summit conference is being scheduled on Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany, for December 5, 2011. Is the second Bonn conference going to render some effective service for Afghanistan in terms of creating employment and educational opportunity for boys and girls? Justice must be rendered to all individuals who have violated human rights including warlords, drug lords and corrupt government officials. Sensitive cabinet and senior posts in the government must be given to selected individuals who are secular, educated, nationalistic, patriotic and honest. Any government officials who take bribes must go to prison for no less than 10 years. Law and order must be enforced strictly and amnesty for criminals must be repealed. Donors must make good their promise of assistance and deliver with priority given to jobs at all levels with a target of reducing unemployment rate to below 10% within a year. The size of the current Afghan army should be restricted to 200,000 as the government's revenues cannot sustain a higher number.

In conclusion, the first Bonn meeting was a sham. Expectation is high for the second Bonn meeting but it could be a sham unless the rein of power is turned to qualified Afghans who desire to bring true democracy and a just society in Afghanistan. The three unpopular entities in Afghanistan right now are the Taliban, the Karzai government and the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The donor countries, most notably the United States, bear a major responsibility to correct the mistakes of the past and set the Afghans on the right path first by ending the war and secondly by blocking the warlords, drug lords and corrupt officials from the governmental positions. Otherwise, enlightened Afghans may have to take upon themselves and emulate Egypt, Libya, & Syria to bring about a democratic change.

*Sajia Kamrany is the executive producer of Afghanistan TV and a weekly commentator on satellite TV communicating directly with viewers all over Afghanistan on social and political issues. Nake M. Kamrany is professor of economics and director of program in law and economics at the University of Southern California.