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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Time to Leave

Canadian troops and support personal have been in Afghanistan for the better part of ten years. The goal was to create a stable democratic state that could offer security to its citizens and promote the rights and values that we cherish in Western democracies.

We aren't any closer to achieving that goal than we were ten years ago. Should Canadian forces remain in Afghanistan after 2011?

There are two main options ....
1. cut and run (withdraw all military forces)
2. soldier on, perhaps with no combat troops
I favor option #1. We've given it our best shot and it's time to admit defeat. Afghanistan is not going to become a respectable member of the world's democratic community.

My resolve was strengthened by a hard-hitting article in last week's issue of Newsweek [The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight].
America has spent more than $6 billion since 2002 in an effort to create an effective Afghan police force, buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits—but the program has been a disaster. More than $322 million worth of invoices for police training were approved even though the funds were poorly accounted for, according to a government audit, and fewer than 12 percent of the country's police units are capable of operating on their own. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the State Department's top representative in the region, has publicly called the Afghan police "an inadequate organization, riddled with corruption." During the Obama administration's review of Afghanistan policy last year, "this issue received more attention than any other except for the question of U.S. troop levels," Holbrooke later told NEWSWEEK. "We drilled down deep into this."

The worst of it is that the police are central to Washington's plans for getting out of Afghanistan. The U.S.-backed government in Kabul will never have popular support if it can't keep people safe in their own homes and streets. Yet in a United Nations poll last fall, more than half the Afghan respondents said the police are corrupt. Police commanders have been implicated in drug trafficking, and when U.S. Marines moved into the town of Aynak last summer, villagers accused the local police force of extortion, assault, and rape.
It's time to leave—the sooner the better. The people of Afghanistan have to want change bad enough to fight for it and that's ain't happening.

[Photo Credit: Defense Industry Daily]

[Hat Tip: Canadian Cynic]

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