Tomorrow, I'll be on another episode of Meet The Bloggers, and the topic of the week is Afghanistan.
Yeah, I know right. Remember that place? We don't hear about it too much from our trusted names in news. I'm pretty sure Ruben Studdard is getting more airtime than Afghanistan.
To refresh your memories: it's a small spot west of Pakistan with about 50,000 NATO troops there (1/2 American). The place where the 9/11 attacks were likely planned. The place we sort of left hanging in order to waste hundreds of billions on an illegal and unnecessary foray into Iraq. The place that Obama now refers to in that dreadful Bush-like language as "the central front in the War On Terror" as if "War On Terror" actually meant something legitimate. If by "central front" Obama means that Afghanistan is the place where American hubris helped create and foment the so-called Islamofascists many decades ago, then yes, it is central. But if he means that we should do an Iraq-for-Afghanistan troop swap, then he's gotten me worried along with everyone else who thinks that backing a military escalation in Afghanistan can somehow absolve us of the sins we've committed in Iraq.
The situation in Afghanistan is not good. From the NATO perspective, the death toll is actually outpacing that of Iraq. Opium production is up and is financing not just the Taliban but also the Karzai government, with the Pentagon seeing this as a low priority. The people of Afghanistan are suffering. Civilians are being killed left and right by our unimaginative bombing campaigns.So what is to be done? How about we recognize that guns, bombs and "boots on the ground" don't solve everything. Why don't we consider:
- massive effort to remove landmines, so little kids don't get blown up.
- a comprehensive nation-building effort that goes well beyond "fighting our way out" to restructuring the economy and more (nice TPM video with Wes Clarke and Richard Clark)
- undercut the financing of the Taliban and corrupt government officials by stamping out opium production
- build more cooperative relationships with the local leaders
- invest in infrastructure (see Time mag article)
What are your thoughts about the situation in Afghanistan and what we should be doing there?
You can check out Meet The Bloggers this Friday at 1pm ET.