Meanwhile...in Afghanistan
Bush's Failed Promises of a Stable Afghanistan
by Mike Ewens
May 20th, 2003

Only two weeks ago, on a tour of US occupied nations, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted that Afghanistan had reached the point of "stability":

"We are at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities."

Still, Rumsfeld was cautious:

"I should underline, however, there are still dangers, still pockets of resistance, in parts of the country," he said.

Thanks for the heads up, Don! Unfortunately, those "pockets of resistance" have made a comeback of late. Sunday, a pitched battle occurred between rival warlords, killing 13. And wait there's more...

Collecting taxes in a third world country is like demanding Thomas Jefferson quotes from the writers at National Review. This helps to explain the struggle President Karzai is facing in Afghanistan where his provincial authorities (read: warlords) have failed to send in their allotment of tax collections. The bills have to be paid, so Karzai is up against the wall. His response: he has threatened to resign if the tax money doesn't start filling up the government's coffers. Call me cynical, but when a leader of a nation makes such a pronouncement, the politically-minded shy away from calling the situation "stable" or "de-escalating." Well, how are the Afghanis faring after the fall of the Taliban? John Sifton and Sam ZiaZarifi explain that the situation is far from simple:

"Human Rights Watch recently completed a research mission in southeastern Afghanistan. Amazingly, we found that many ordinary Afghans are less secure than they were a year ago. In addition to resurgent Taliban activity, we found major problems with Afghanistan's police, army and intelligence forces - the same people the United States put in place after defeating the Taliban."

One may argue: "These adjustments are just part of the 'peacekeeping' process!" Ok, then prepare yourself for one heck of a decade (or two?) in "liberated" Iraq.

Despite the administration's attempt to assuage us about the true success of America's wars of liberation, things are moving backwards. However, libertarians knew all along the wars that have been fought wouldn't end so well. For instance, has the US government won the "War on Drugs" or the "War on Poverty," or have both problems actually been exacerbated by government actions? Clearly, government action produces unintended results, and for Afghanis this may mean years of turmoil and empty promises. Lew Rockwell aptly describes the fundamental problem of government intervention in relation to the "War on Terror:"

". . .not only does the state not accomplish its stated goals, it recruits more people into the armies of the enemy, and ends up completely swamped by a problem that grows ever worse until the state throws in the towel. In the meantime, the target population is able to make a mockery of the state through sheer defiance."

This conclusion lends itself a simple solution: withdraw our troops, allow the Afghanis to rule themselves and promise never to go back! Perhaps then we will can avoid creating more bin Ladens or Saddams.

For more information, here is a listing of the news streaming out of Afghanistan (see "Eye on Afghanistan" for daily updates):

  • Afghan Factional Fighting Kills Five in the North
  • Karzai Powerless As Warlords Battle
  • US Troops Still Active in Afghanistan
  • Afghan Factional Fighting Leaves 38 Civilians Dead
  • Battle For Afghan Town Leaves Six Dead
  • U.N. to Get Armed Escorts in Afghanistan
  • Troops Shot in Afghan School
  • A Job Half-Done in Afghanistan

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    Mike Ewens is an economics and mathematics major at Washington University in St. Louis, Student Coordinator of Antiwar.com and president of Students for a Libertarian Society. See his archives.

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