Saturday, August 14, 2010

Afghanistan: Questioning the Mission

These are photos of the ten humanitarian aid workers who were killed by the Taliban last week while on a medical mission in remote villages in northern Afghanistan.

They were traveling from village to village on foot and it sounds like they had hiked a very long ways, and they were specifically working with people on their eyes.

Last year on August 14 I wrote about the upcoming elections in Afghanistan and two of the candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah.  I noted that the violence against US troops had increased substantially and asked whether the increase was viewed as necessary (by the Obama Administration) before things could improve.

Well, in the ensuing year, I'd say that the situation in Afghanistan has only gotten worse:
  1. President Karzai is portrayed as, alternately, corrupt or incompetent. 
  2. The violence against US troops has gotten even worse, with June and July of 2010 being the deadliest months of the entire war.
  3. The US military has tried to implement "government in a box" in certain southern Afghanistan cities and the reporting is that the efforts have mostly failed.
Given these realities, I do not understand why President Obama persists on what seems a hopeless course, particularly since it seems that we are only counting down until we can begin some sort of drawdown in August 2011. 

Just take the past 12 months as a microcosm of the past decade: what have we accomplished?  Anything positive (I assume we must have built schools and civic buildings, though I think more of the building/development has done by the Three Cups of Tea man and other private individuals)?  Or have we just stirred up even more anti-American fervor at a huge cost in lives and money?

Brian Carderelli is the man on the far left of the second line of photos.  He was a 2009 graduate of JMU and had also grown up in Harrisonburg. It sounds like he was a dedicated humanitarian:

Carderelli, 25, of Harrisonburg, Va., worked for the International School of Kabul. He went to Afghanistan in September and also was compiling an album titled "The Beauty – It's Not All War."

"He loved people and was particularly concerned for the poor," the family said in a statement Monday.

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