Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Foreign Policy ADD

Here's a story you might have forgotten about. I did until this morning. Afghanistan, the other war we are fighting in the Middle East. January 31st of this year, the along with several other news organizations reported the contents of a independent assessment of the military action in Afghanistan. 

The report offers a mixed but overall a bleak assessment of what needs to be done in Afghanistan. But dig a little deeper and we see that the military and political actions taken by NATO, with the US in the lead, has created a tapestry of interconnected issues that have lead to the polarization of the Afghani people and have stagnated growth since the initial boom of the Karzai administration. 

The Bush administration regularly portays the ongoing fight in Afghanistan as NATO versus the Taliban. This is far from a complete picture. The economy of the country is largely based on the farming and trafficking of poppy, for opium production. This trafficking is sometimes done by the Taliban, often times it is not. Governmental corruption is widespread, that corruption permeates the government's relationship with the Taliban and Pakistan, and the people of Afghanistan themselves. 

Rather than asking the candidates to talk about the fliers they've mailed bashing each other, our media must begin to actually press candidates to answer questions on the middle east, and create a genuine synergistic plan. The Bush administration was justified in launching military intervention in Afghanistan, but has failed to properly manage the end game and has failed on the diplomatic fronts to dismantle the Taliban. We have also created a complicated and overly dependent relationship with Pakistan. However, we opened a new set of issues by entering into Iraq without pertinent foresight for how the diplomatic and political fronts of the the incursion would play out. All of this of course must be viewed through the lens of our continuing need for Saudi oil. 

Sound bite-size answers to the problems of the Middle east and our link to them will simply not do. The answers that work for Afghanistan must has some link the answers of Iraq, and must be viewed in the long term as we draw down our oil dependence. 
Perhaps, just perhaps, a candidate can find a way to make this policy work. To turn America from the world's policeman to the world's power broker. We must create a second tier to the global economy not by simply paying out blind aid to questionable regimes, but by creating markets. Finding reputable goods and services Afghans and Iraqis can create at home and sell abroad. Giving them an economic engine that can fuel a resurgence of education and modernization. 

Alright folks, its 9:00am and the job the pays the bills is calling. For more about Afghanistan check out this story from Sarah Chayes, profiled and interviewed on Bill Moyers Journal. 

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