# Progress in Afghanistan

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Staff Emeritus

## Main Question or Discussion Point

This situation in Afghanistan deserves it's own thread, since although it is one of two states in which which the US military is involved in direct conflict with entities designated as terrorists in the 'War on Terror', it is quite different from Iraq.

In an article, Joel Fitzgibbon, Australia's new Minister for Defense, outlines the challenge and the need for a strategic plan to secure democracy and stability in Afghanistan.

http://www.the-diplomat.com/article.aspx?aeid=5804 [Broken]

Are we winning the war in Afghanistan? It’s a hard question to answer. The better question may be: which war? The military mission? The war for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people? Or the struggle to secure agreement among the International Security Afghanistan Force (ISAF) partners, on a coherent strategic plan which could deliver secure democracy and stability in the war-weary South Asian country?

Before attempting to answer these questions, it’s important to first acknowledge that significant progress has been made in Afghanistan. Economic growth is currently running at an impressive 8 per cent. Healthcare in Afghanistan also continues to improve and spread: more than 80 per cent of the population now has access to basic healthcare services, and infant mortality rates continue to steadily decline. The number of Afghan children receiving an education now exceeds six million, the highest number of enrolled school children in Afghan history.

For Australia’s part, our Defence Force engineers, tradespeople and project managers are rebuilding local infrastructure. They have helped construct roads and bridges, redeveloped the Tarin Kowt Provincial Hospital and the local Boys’ High School, and assisted in the construction of a causeway across the Garmab Mandah River. The causeway has both facilitated commercial trade and improved access to health services. Our Reconstruction Task Force also built and continues to run a Trade Training School which provides the local population with the essential trade and construction skills they need to rebuild their own province.

All these facts suggest real, if only steady, progress. Importantly, they also provide ISAF partners with evidence to reassure their own citizens that the international effort to secure and rebuild Afghanistan is a worthy cause and that success is much more than a pipe-dream.

But while progress has been made, we cannot ignore the reality that more than six years after the Taliban was ousted from power, success in Afghanistan is not a given.

I recently travelled to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, for a number of bilateral meetings and two important larger gatherings. The first was a meeting of Defence Ministers from Afghanistan’s Regional Command South (RC(S)): defence ministers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands, Estonia, Romania and Denmark. That discussion followed a meeting of the same group in Edinburgh last December at which RC(S) members agreed to work on new strategies for the south and for Afghanistan more broadly. The intention is for the RC(S) plans to become our contribution to the development of NATO’s own strategic document for the future of Afghanistan.

. . . .

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Staff Emeritus
The US and Europeans are 'outsiders' in Afghanistan and the region, and they've had a rather poor history of meddling there. The US and NATO are caught between a rock and a hard place.

One of the biggest challenges in Afghanistan is the border regions with Iran and particularly the 'tribal areas' of Pakistan. The US and NATO cannot effectively cross the border, whereas the Taliban have no contraint.

The external challenges to the situation in Afghanistan include the US/NATO relationship and the conflicting interests of other parties in the region.

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
Article 6 of the Nato treaty limits the operations of Nato to the Atlantic North of the tropic of Cancer.
Ironically this was introduced to stop Nato being used by the British and French to pursue colonial wars in Asia for their own political purposes.

Staff Emeritus
Here is some background on Afghanistan. The situation is complicated because there are competing interests within Afghanistan as well as the surrounding region.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/taliban/view/

The main issue for the US was the connection between Taliban and Al Qaida and bin Laden, who had sanctuary in Afghanistan, and now apparently in Pakistan.

Here is another resource on Afghanistan.
http://afghanistan-analyst.org/bibliography.aspx

Non-Governmental and international humanitarian organizations operating in Afghanistan
http://afghanistan-analyst.org/ngo.aspx

The government and people of Afghanistan are caught between the warlords and Taliban.

Evo
Mentor
The US originally funded and trained Bin Laden and his men to overthrow the Russian occupation, and it backfired on us. So this is another sticky issue with the Russians.

I remember a documentary years ago, where a famous US news reporter filmed Bin Laden's training camp. This was LONG before 9/11. At the time it was about the noble cause of freeing Afghanistan from the Soviets.

This link seems fairly accurate in the history, skip over the anti-US sentiments in the first 2 paragraphs. http://www.isreview.org/issues/20/CIA_binladen_afghan.shtml

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mgb_phys
Homework Helper
The US originally funded and trained Bin Laden and his men to overthrow the Russian occupation, and it backfired on us. So this is another sticky issue with the Russians.
When I was at school we had a sports day to raise money for athletes at the 1980 moscow olympics. Since we were boycotting it because of Afghanistan they didn't get any official funding.

Now I'm confused - was I pawn of international communism or was I fighting terrorism?

Evo
Mentor
When I was at school we had a sports day to raise money for athletes at the 1980 moscow olympics. Since we were boycotting it because of Afghanistan they didn't get any official funding.

Now I'm confused - was I pawn of international communism or was I fighting terrorism?
Yes. :uhh:

Supercritical
There are allegations of CIA contact with bin Laden, but it is by no means a fact.

The wiki article has much better citations against the connection than for it, in my opinion.

Both the US and Zawahiri deny working with each other, but it would be embarrassing for both parties to admit doing so - if the US would be a hypocrite for supporting future anti-US terrorists, then would not bin Laden also be a hypocrite for fighting alongside his future enemy?

In the end, I thought the Peter Bergen piece the wiki article cites was pretty good.

Staff Emeritus
There are allegations of CIA contact with bin Laden, but it is by no means a fact.

The wiki article has much better citations against the connection than for it, in my opinion.

Both the US and Zawahiri deny working with each other, but it would be embarrassing for both parties to admit doing so - if the US would be a hypocrite for supporting future anti-US terrorists, then would not bin Laden also be a hypocrite for fighting alongside his future enemy?

In the end, I thought the Peter Bergen piece the wiki article cites was pretty good.
The key fact here is that al Qaida was founded in 1988, after the US support for the mujahedin. The concern in the mid-1980's was 'blowback', which was realized in the 90's.

Frontline has another piece on the search for bin Laden.

Art
Here is a good article in two parts from the BBC showing the history leading up to the present brand of Islamic extremism

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy has spent the last two months investigating Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia's austere brand of Islam.

In the first of a two-part series, to be broadcast on the BBC World Service, he looks at the fierce debate over whether Wahhabism and Saudi petrodollars have fomented extremism.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7093423.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7106382.stm

National Security Decision Directive 166 from 1987, which is probably what actually authorized the CIA to train the Mujahideen to build car bombs and give them various other forms of aid, is of course still fully classified unfortunately.

But at least it's one of the Presidential Directives we actually know the name of... Here's the http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nsdd/index.html". NSDD 250 is another classified one from later in '87 that also has something to do with Afghanistan.

Something of interest in the same vein I came across recently is the specifics of how the U.S. http://cns.miis.edu/research/wmdme/flow/iraq/seed.htm" [Broken] to Iraq (along with the various other kinds of support we gave Saddam Hussein during the 80's.)

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Staff Emeritus
It certainly appears that some who subscribe to the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam have facilitated extremism, and Saudi petrodollars have enabled that. However, one can look earlier to the writings of Sayyid Qutb.

The current problems with Islamic militancy may be correlated with the European colonialism of the past 2-3 centuries, which could be seen as a continuation of the past millenium beginning with the First Crusade in 1095. Of course, this was not unique in history, which has involved a plethora of migrations and wars over wealth and territory.

Supercritical
Astronuc said:
The key fact here is that al Qaida was founded in 1988, after the US support for the mujahedin.

Apparently, "Estimates are that there were about a 250,000 Afghans fighting 125,000 Soviet troops, while only 2000 Arab Afghans fought 'at any one time'"

It is not correct to imply that US support for the Mujahideen meant support for bin Laden's groups. They were described as a "side show" to the Afghan resistance, which I tend to believe if the numbers quoted above are accurate (they are cited). In fact, many sources say Pakistan was the party who distributed the funds and weapons provided by the US, and that Pakistan did not want the US to have a say in the distribution.

Now, there is no way for one to outright deny that the CIA supported (or even trained) bin Laden and his brethren. There could be any number of secret CIA projects that have yet to see the light of day.

I can say that the information that is available does not tend to support the connection.

The best I have found is that the US's support for the local Afghanistan resistance helped to create an environment in which groups like al-Qaeda could thrive, and that the international networks bin Laden helped to establish led to the emergence of al-Qaeda years, or even decades, earlier than would have otherwise been the case. This may be the "blowback" you were referring to, but it doesn't prove the CIA funded and armed bin Laden.

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Staff Emeritus
True. bin Laden's group was a side show, but he was affiliated with Taliban groups.

It is not correct to imply that US support for the Mujahideen meant support for bin Laden's groups.
and that was not implied, at least not in my posts.

The best I have found is that the US's support for the local Afghanistan resistance helped to create an environment in which groups like al-Qaeda could thrive, and that the international networks bin Laden helped to establish led to the emergence of al-Qaeda years, or even decades, earlier than would have otherwise been the case. This may be the "blowback" you were referring to, but it doesn't prove the CIA funded and armed bin Laden.
Again, there was no such claim that the CIA funded bin Laden, at least not directly.

Throughout the years of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, relations between the United States and Pakistan were best characterized by close cooperation. Still, United States policy makers became increasingly concerned that Zia and his associates- -most notably, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, then head of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence --appeared to give preferential treatment to the Islamic fundamentalists, especially mujahidin leader Gulbaddin Hikmatyar.
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/pakistan/background.htm **

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made Pakistan a country of paramount geostrategic importance. In a matter of days, the United States declared Pakistan a "frontline state" against Soviet aggression and offered to reopen aid and military assistance deliveries. Pakistan's top national security agency, the Army's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, monitored the activities of and provided advice and support to the mujahidin, and commandos from the Army's Special Services Group helped guide the operations inside Afghanistan. The ISI trained about 83,000 Afghan Mujahideen between 1983 to 1997 and dispatched them to Afghanistan. Pakistan paid a price for its activities, as Afghan and Soviet forces conducted raids against mujahidin bases inside Pakistan.
http://www.fas.org/irp/world/pakistan/isi/

Then there is

(12) In 1980, Representative Charlie Wilson began urging
the Central Intelligence Agency to arm Afghani mujahideen
fighters. The decision to double funding to Afghanistan was
unsolicited and was made without the knowledge of the
President. The book Charlie Wilson's War'', written by
George Crile, asserts that Representative Wilson thus
violated the Logan Act.
http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2007_cr/s372-amend.html

Now going back to Gulbaddin Hikmatyar (Hekmatyar), one finds a relationship with bin Laden. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/96may/blowback.htm

So US/CIA -> Pakistan ISI -> Hikmatyar <-> bin Laden

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Talk of a troop surge in Afghanistan

Where are we supposed to get the troops

As the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq fades from the front pages, analysts are turning their attention to what is often called the forgotten war. Many fear that progress in Afghanistan is stalled and that the country is in need of major new measures to reinvigorate the war effort against the Taliban and other extremist factions.

To that end, talk is increasingly turning to a troop surge for Afghanistan. The conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, which was instrumental in designing the current surge strategy in Iraq, in January convened an "Afghanistan Planning Group" that will shortly announce recommendations for an influx of troops into Afghanistan as well. "It's clear to everyone who looks at it that more troops are necessary in Afghanistan," says Frederick Kagan, an AEI fellow and an architect of the surge strategy in Iraq.

It is clear to U.S. military officials that efforts in Afghanistan are faltering and that more troops could help turn the tide. Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and now the deputy chairman of NATO's military committee, says that there is currently a shortage of maneuver and infantry forces in the country.
http://www.usnews.com/articles/news/world/2008/03/21/talk-of-a-troop-surge-for-afghanistan.html

I can see where this is going just by looking at who does the planning.

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The US originally funded and trained Bin Laden and his men to overthrow the Russian occupation, and it backfired on us. So this is another sticky issue with the Russians.

I remember a documentary years ago, where a famous US news reporter filmed Bin Laden's training camp. This was LONG before 9/11. At the time it was about the noble cause of freeing Afghanistan from the Soviets.

This link seems fairly accurate in the history, skip over the anti-US sentiments in the first 2 paragraphs. http://www.isreview.org/issues/20/CIA_binladen_afghan.shtml
We keep creating monsters that we have to go back and kill. In the late 70's the CIA helped establish the Baath party in Iraq.

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
We keep creating monsters that we have to go back and kill. In the late 70's the CIA helped establish the Baath party in Iraq.
Good job we never medled in Iran then !

Good job we never medled in Iran then !
Are you serious. Actually we did a lot of meddling in Iran.

mgb_phys
Homework Helper
Irony - it's like 'goldy' or 'brassy' but made of iron

Staff Emeritus
Amid War, Afghanistan Builds Its First National Park
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90171390

Morning Edition, May 7, 2008 · In Afghanistan, Americans are working with the government in Kabul to create something that has never existed before in this war-ravaged country: a national park.

It takes several hours by four-wheel-drive vehicle, riding on rocky roads that wind through mountains and across streams, to get to the 220-square-mile site.

But the drive is easy compared to the obstacles planners face to make this park in central Bamiyan province a reality.
Yet another step in the right direction.

RonPaul2008
There has been no progress in Afghanistan. We have done more nation building over there than hunting down those responsible for September 11th. In six years, we have not captured Osama Bin Laden, we have not made Americans safer because of our lax border policy, and we have violated the sovereignty of a foreign nation without just cause and without the reason of self defense.

The pro-war advocates may argue until they are blue in the face that we have toppled a dictator, built their infrastructure back up after we destroyed it (though even that is not neccesarrily the case), and have "brought them democracy" whether they desired it or not. Even if we have made Iraq a little better under the guise of fighting the war on terror, what has this brought Americans other than higher taxes and grieving mothers who lost their sons to an unjust cause? The best way to keep Americans safe and fight terror is to secure our borders and fire everybody at the CIA to find more capable intelligence. If we're not at least going to catch Osama Bin Laden, we can at least prevent another September 11th or worse by voting for Ron Paul, closing foreign military bases, and establishing a non-intervention policy - not an isolationist policy, because we are a nation built on trade. Let the free market handle the rest.

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mgb_phys
Homework Helper
Come away from the computer Ron - you know it's time for your medicine.

Staff Emeritus
U.S. loses ground as Afghanistan erodes, By James Rupert, September 20, 2007
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003893062_afghanistan20.html [Broken]
The U.S.'s declared ally, Pakistan, is playing a double role that has made it a sanctuary where jihadist guerrillas can recruit and train fighters, raise money and infiltrate Afghanistan. Since 2001, Pakistan has arrested many al-Qaida leaders and has fitfully confronted home-grown jihadists. Still, it tolerates a broad support network for Taliban and other guerrillas that includes active-duty members of Pakistan's security forces.

So far, Karzai's government and the United States have been fortunate in northeastern Afghanistan. Local tribes, notably in Nuristan province, are historic rivals of the ethnic Pashtuns who dominate the Taliban movement, and they tend to resist the Taliban's calls for jihad.

But, said the Afghan government engineer Wahdat and others, that natural advantage is being squandered because the government and its foreign backers have failed to establish schools, clinics, police forces and other services to meet even basic needs of people scattered in Nuristan's roughly 300 mountain villages. The resulting vacuum, and the depth of people's need, lets Islamic extremists keep deepening their roots here.

Breeding insurgency
While the government operates almost no schools in Nuristan, the Saudi-based World Muslim League and other Arab religious foundations pay salaries for hundreds of mullahs, missionaries and madrassa teachers, said Abdulhai Warshan, a Nuristani journalist for the Afghan service of Voice of America radio. This Islamist network has been rooting itself in every district of Nuristan since the 1980s, when Arabs (and the U.S. government) helped fund the Afghan guerrilla war against the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

With Nuristanis increasingly eager to educate their children, and no government schools in sight, "the Arab madrassas [religious schools] have offered free religious teaching" according to the Saudis' fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrine, Warshan said. For a quarter-century, "it has been the only way ordinary people could educate their sons, and now Wahhabism and extremism have penetrated our area."
The Taliban is still active in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan (Chitral and Bajaur).

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mgb_phys