Don’t ignore the growing threats in Afghanistan

Most foreign observers tended to see Afghanistan as a failed state struggling through a brutal civil war, like Iraq’s. Another Afghan expert, the prominent journalist and commentator Bahodir Ahmadi, writes: “Afghanistan is about to return to the same state of lawlessness and corruption it operated under pre-Soviet and pre-9/11.”

While many Afghan experts talk with caution and have called for a time of transition between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, most acknowledge that the country has become very dangerous. Given this new reality, the most basic questions of human survival, such as how to feed and house yourself, and how to defend yourself from groups like the Taliban and Daesh, must be faced.

Where a country’s economy thrives, those who survive it usually thrive, too. Foreign aid in Afghanistan goes directly to the government and regional organizations to fight poverty, stabilize the country and educate a young population. Aid also goes to Afghanistan’s towns and cities to build roads, build schools and hospitals, and provide employment and food to the local population.

While the United States generously raised $13 billion in aid over the past decade, one clear area of improvement—development of local infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and roads—was sidestepped in favor of expensive military and logistical support for a foreign military presence of more than 150,000 Americans and allied troops in the country. Less than 20 percent of the $13 billion (or $4.5 billion), however, directly went to Afghanistan’s domestic infrastructure.

Instead, the funds went to the development and training of foreign armies, to the substantial and extremely expensive efforts to train Afghan security forces and to education. The program has put 30,000 Afghan children through the country’s top schools and trained 611,000 Afghan security forces. (Funding for the program is almost completely contingent on the presence of coalition troops in the country.)

There is concern, however, that as a result of the lack of investment in local communities, the trust between the police, local villagers and the U.S.-backed government has collapsed. Corruption, lawlessness and the potential for tragedy are prevailing before Americans have a chance to look at the situation with fresh eyes.

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