Afghanistan’s ability to produce food has been seriously reduced; grain production has fallen by more than 50% in the past two years, and livestock herds are severely depleted. The primary road network is in shambles, with half in need of reconstruction. Outside of Kabul many people still walk three miles to get water.
Terrorism remains an issue, but more and more the terrorized are Afghani civilians. In a recently released report, Human Rights Watch asserts that U.S. military forces are actively backing Ismail Khan, a warlord in western Afghanistan with a disastrous human rights record. Earlier this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met with Khan and described him as “an appealing person,” but those suffering beneath his rule would not agree. Human Rights Watch documents widespread abuses by officials under Khan’s command, including arbitrary and politically motivated arrests, intimidation, extortion, and torture.
While the United States is shirking its responsibility to contribute to the momentous task of rebuilding and reestablishing stability in Afghanistan, the Bush administration is willing to pay for a new war against Iraq that will not come at a discount. Yale economist William Nordhaus estimates the economic impacts of war in Iraq could be as large as $120 billion to $1.5 trillion.
::Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute: In Afghanistan, Paying for War is Easier than Paying for Peace via Dack
::Human Rights Watch, October 2002: “All Our Hopes Are Crushed”: Violence and Repression in Western Afghanistan