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Thursday, March 02, 2006

RUMINATIONS ON AFGHANISTAN

President Bush's brief visit to Afghanistan stirs thoughts of missed opportunities.
He went only to a military base and a secured area of Kabul. This is understandable; much of the rest of Afghanistan is too dangerous. And the Taliban remains a threat.

It didn't have to be this way, 4 years after the ouster of the Taliban. The U.S moved swiftly to remove the Taliban government, to obtain elections, and to support President Karzai. We failed to capture Osama bin Laden or to secure the country, but we had greatly limited the power and operations of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But then, to a great extent, the U.S. moved on - to Iraq. As a result, we failed to build the infrastruture, to do the needed reconstruction, and to provide the expertise, the
financial means, and the military support needed for governance of the entire country.

Afghanistan presented a difficult challenge and there was help from the other nations and the UN. But this challenge required a massive U.S. effort. Neither the will nor the resources could be mustered because President Bush misled us into the misguided invasion of Iraq.

The most positive act of the five years of the Bush administration was the swift response to 9-11 by moving quickly to Afghanistan. Bush then jeopardized the opportunity for success there by starting and poorly executing an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Would it have been different if Senator Gore had been elected? I think that Gore would also have taken the Afghanistan step right away. After all, this was a military and intellignce driven decision. I doubt if Mr. Bush even knew where Afghanistan was.
Given Mr. Gore's knowledge and experience, and caution, there is little chance that he would have had us invade Iraq. I hope that he would have devoted the resources and obtained the international support to help Afghanistan become a successful nation. But, of coursr, we'll never know.

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