Monday, February 26, 2007

The Canadian View of Afghanistan

Is the country collapsing?

It's hard to overstate just how badly things are going at the moment, according to Barnett R. Rubin of New York University, a leading scholar on Afghanistan.

Otherwise, he warns, the resurgent Taliban, record opium production and a moribund reconstruction effort will push the country into chaos.

"It's not just about a military strategy," Masty says, "it's about who owns the process, and that should be the people of Afghanistan. Not just warlords and politicians in Kabul but real people in real villages."

"Afghans seriously believe that the $16 billion [US] in aid that the country has received since 2001 has been stolen or wasted."

Rubin also believes, along with every other Afghanistan expert contacted for this article, that the United States has yet to take its Afghan campaign seriously enough to invest the time, troops and resources that the situation requires. That might be changing, he says, but the war in Iraq, tensions with Iran and other pressing international demands could just as easily divert U.S. attention yet again from a country that's known nothing but war for the past 30 years.

[A]t the moment, Gannon says, the Afghan police are widely seen by the public as corrupt and untrustworthy. Police officers are often involved in violent crime, she says, often for understandable reasons.
Canada has roughly 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, mostly stationed in the south, where much of the fighting has taken place. Since 2002, 44 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan.

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