Afghanistan: To go, to stay; either way, many are likely to pay

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President Biden has announced that each U.S. troop is going to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by Aug. 31. The president’s decision has been met with mixed responses. There was a collective feeling held by many who never should have gone to war in Afghanistan and lots of are relieved that we are finally bringing the troops home. then there are people that believe that the two,372 Americans killed and therefore the 20,320 injured are being disrespected by the withdrawal.

The withdrawal will likely accelerate Taliban control over large areas of the country and can enable the Taliban to realize control of the border with Pakistan. Control of the border could easily translate into more terrorists getting into Pakistan with the goal of destabilizing that country. Pakistan, often a reluctant ally of us, has nuclear weapons, therefore the prospect of a failed government in Pakistan is cause for concern.

I served in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2010 to 2011 as an employee of USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is liable for delivering economic and humanitarian assistance abroad. once I received Kandahar Airfield on Aug. 1, 2010, where I might be biased for the subsequent year, the sun, the smell, and therefore the noise were almost overwhelming. The noise was from the constant takeoff and landing of military aircraft that occurred 24 hours each day, except during “ramp ceremonies” to escort the bodies of dead soldiers onto aircraft for his or her final flight home. The smell, I learned, was from many Porta-Pottys round the airfield and an open pond where waste was dumped.

I traveled almost daily, visiting places where the war was a continuing reality for the Afghan people, the Afghan government, American diplomats, and U.S. soldiers. I visited Kandahar City, the birthplace of the Taliban, and lots of of the districts within the Kandahar Province and other southern provinces, including Helmand, Uruzgan, and Zabul. I used to be a daily visitor at many of the outposts with names I had difficulty pronouncing, work- ing with local Afghan elected officials and their staff including mayors and governors. I also worked with village elders and nonsecular leaders, officials of other international organizations, members of the U.S. military, the U.S. State Department and other USAID staff, and a British imam who was tasked with outreach to Afghan religious leaders.

My work was varied. It included helping train Afghan officials, including mayors, governors, and their staffs, to be simpler leaders. I also worked to mediate disputes and to realize the support of tribal leaders. I served as a guide for international media and was a part of the briefing team when members of Congress visited Kandahar. I would like to believe that my work made a difference.

I think many mistakes were made by the U.S. government in Afghanistan. Far too often, State Department and USAID employees were more focused on their next assignment rather than being committed to creating a difference in Afghanistan. For others, the pay, the perks, and therefore the prestige of being assigned to Afghanistan far outweighed any commitment to helping the people and solving the issues while there. Too often, success was measured by the quantity of cash spent on road, school, and construction projects, or the burn rate, instead of the sustainability of the projects.

There was too often the wrongful thinking that the Americans had all the answers. We didn’t. Often, we did not listen. We also did not establish a uniform long-term program to succeed in Afghan religious leaders who have a considerable influence on the Afghan people. for instance, mayors could tell people living in villages and towns to boil their water to stop the disease. However, more people would follow that advice if the message was delivered by the mullah during Friday prayers. Villagers looked to the mullah for guidance in most aspects of their lives.

Complicating the matter, Americans were labeled as non-believers. And by failing to aggressively answer this myth, we too often were viewed as being anti-Islam. Additionally, the shortage of diversity within both the State Department and USAID contributed to a “group think” mentality and helped to hinder progress. Few people were willing to talk out against the non-productive policies in situ . On a positive note, I observed during my time in Afghanistan how the U.S. military Special Forces were daily difference makers. They helped provide hope and order for thousands of Afghans by getting obviate the Taliban and implementing successful village stabilization programs, including securing clean water sources, clearing rubbish, and fixing basic medical treatment.

Equally important, the Special Forces were ready to establish strong, lasting relationships with village elders and leaders. This led to village leaders taking an immediate role in providing security for his or her village and helping establish A level of order. Unfortunately, many of the people that helped U.S. forces as interpreters, office workers, and in many other jobs are now in jeopardy, as are their relations, with the resurgence of the Taliban. The backlog of applicants from Afghanistan for a special immigrant visa program found out by Congress is estimated at about 17,000, with another 50,000 immediate relations. the power of us and our allies to accurately identify every Afghan who helped during our 20-year war there’s daunting and perhaps impossible.

While the primary of an estimated 3,500 Afghan evacuees began arriving July 30 at Fort Lee to start the resettlement process, it’s unclear if all who want to go away are going to be ready to before the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops. those that remain in Afghanistan could also be targets because the Taliban moves back to power. Even under the simplest of circumstances, there could also be instances of some Afghans fabricating stories — with deadly consequences for neighbors et al. — so as to realize the great grace and favor of the newly installed Taliban leadership.

Because the Taliban has never been a proponent of education, the prevailing problems of limited education and lack of faculties and teachers will continue the state, with a high illiteracy rate continually impeding the opportunities for the country to grow. In areas coming under Taliban control, the impact on young girls and ladies is going to be devastating. I learned while there that a lot of young girls suffered from forced marriages and there was rampant sexual assault of young boys, an incontrovertible fact that few acknowledged but was a standard occurrence. Life under the Taliban likely will exacerbate these issues.

The Taliban was heavily involved within the production of poppy plants, the key ingredient for heroin. it had been the crop, promoted by the barrel of Taliban guns. it’s easy to ascertain a big increase in poppy production in Afghanistan within the near future, which likely will translate to more heroin on the streets of us. The early signs aren’t promising. within the past several weeks as U.S. troops have left, we’ve seen the execution of Afghan soldiers, the looting of a former U.S. military base, and more. And this might be just the start.

In the better of circumstances, Afghanistan may be a very difficult and challenging place. Geography isn’t kind to man or machine. the shortage of infrastructure — roads, bridges, schools, medical clinics, doctors, and teachers — will make it increasingly difficult to possess a government that functions properly and takes care of its people. it’s easy to ascertain Afghanistan splintering into a series of states controlled by powerful warlords who will get rich from the sale of medicine, extortion, kidnappings, and other criminal activities. Life was hard for several in Afghanistan, and therefore the withdrawal will make life much harder and more dangerous.

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