Friday, March 24, 2006

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has a good point

...Gen. Michael Maples, was testifying before Congress that the Taliban insurgency is growing and will increase this spring, presenting a greater threat to the Afghan central government's expansion of authority than at any point since late 2001. Under these circumstances, the current plan to replace the 2,500 U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan this spring with contingents of Canadian, Dutch, British, Romanian and Australian troops is a mistake. Given the intensifying Taliban insurgency, these allied forces should augment, not displace, U.S. forces. We should also reassess the administration's proposal to turn over the command of most U.S. troops in Afghanistan to NATO by early next year.
For a variety of reasons - NATO isn't ready for varsity football. The Brits and perhaps the Canadians would press the fight - but nothing like the American would. Fact. They just don't have the resources or national will. Remember, we were attacked from AF based terrorists - they weren't. They are just helping out a friend.
The anticipated withdrawal of U.S. forces has reportedly already caused some local leaders to hedge their bets with respect to the Taliban. Economic development has been slowed because, as Kunder testified, "our contractors are being targeted, and a number of them have been killed, making it more difficult for USAID to recruit appropriately qualified staff."
The people there are survivors who know how to read a change in the power structure.
We should never forget that the Taliban came to power in the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent U.S. disengagement from the region. With the Bush administration and political Washington focused on Iraq, many Afghan leaders worry that the reduction of U.S. forces is a sign that we will again lose sight of Afghanistan. We do so at our peril. Let us not forget that the Sept. 11 plot was launched from Afghanistan, and not from Iraq.
It is one thing to prove the PaperTiger-ism of NATO in Darfur - Afghanistan is another thing altogether.

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