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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bush Prepares to Cut and Run in Afghanistan - by Bob Burnett

We've heard a lot of rhetoric from the Bush Administration about "staying the course" in Iraq. About how it is America's responsibility to stay as long as it takes to ensure that Iraq becomes a stable democracy. Those who've opposed this position-whether they have advocated an immediate withdrawal, a staged departure, or simply the preparation of a transition plan-have been branded as dolts, as advocates of a "cut and run" philosophy. What's gotten little notice is that in Afghanistan the Administration is pursuing the very same cut and run policies that the accuse others of espousing in Iraq.
 
If you haven't been paying attention to Afghanistan, you're not alone. It hasn't been in the news. For good reason, as things aren't going well there. The Taliban has regained control of much of the territory they lost once the US forces arrived in 2001, particularly in the South and East. The Taliban has been conducting a guerilla campaign of "civil terror" and it's succeeding.
 
On March 1st President Bush made a four-hour visit to Afghanistan. For Dubya everything was "coming up roses;" he spoke glowingly of the progress there, described it as "inspiring." Nonetheless, the US is withdrawing 4000 troops (20 percent of the total), and drastically reducing support for infrastructure improvement. Bush tells the world that we will stay the course, but Afghans feel that we are bailing out.
 
What went wrong? The simple answer is everything that the President has tried. As has glaringly proven to be the case in Iraq, the Bush Administration never had a plan for Afghanistan and, therefore, never dealt with the systemic problems.
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