The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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The other war over there

Afghanistan isn’t shaping up to well – and should pay attention

Remember Osama bin Laden? You know, the 6-foot-plus Saudi Arabian man on dialysis whom we have yet to catch?

Just checking.

Because Ed Board is pretty sure that Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, remembers him too.

In his country, the situation is precariously close to chaos. The court systems in the capital and elsewhere are notoriously corrupt and short-staffed (many rural places still use tribal negotiations after crimes), and the opium trade – one of the only lucrative ways to make a living in the country – is still going strong.

Oh, and the Taliban’s trying to make a comeback.

This is not to say that no progress has been made there. Life is infinitely better than it was under the Taliban’s ruthless rule; more kids are in school, women are being elected to its new parliament, and millions of refugees have returned.

But the looming shadow of Iraq threatens to all but erase Afghanistan from the minds of Americans. Which, at this point, would be a fatal error, especially considering the fact that just days ago, the Taliban seized a rural stronghold in the country’s southern region. It’s the second district to fall into the group’s hands in less than a month, underscoring the tenuous hold the NATO and American troops there have.

They’re simply stretched too thin.

George Bush is taking a good first step in pressing NATO for more troops, but even if he gets his way, that’s only going to be a temporary solution to a deeper problem (where have we heard that before…).

Part of the problem is Afghanistan’s police force, or lack thereof.

Another is the power vacuum that Karzai has unsuccessfully tried to fill. But the last, and perhaps the most important factor, is an economic one: if people don’t have jobs, if the U.S. is trying to shut down the opium, trade, then what good is a Parliament? How is a government supposed to help people who can’t even afford to pay taxes, even if there were a consistent collections system in place?

The U.S. doesn’t just need troops. It needs help coming up with a comprehensive, cultural plan about how to help that country rebuild from a horrifying time when soccer fields served as places of public executions and women were covered from head to toe in fear of their lives. As in Iraq, military victory simply isn’t good enough. We need to help the Afghanis help themselves.

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