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Sat. March 02, 2024
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Rethinking the ‘Long War’ in Afghanistan: Response
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By M. Ashraf Haidari Letter to the New York Times Editor February 27, 2011 In The ‘Long War’ May be Getting Shorter (OPED, Feb. 20), the authors just hope that things “may be” getting better in Afghanistan. They are not. There may be active resistance to NATO forces in 9 districts of Afghanistan, but the rest of the country is daily terrorized. 2010 was deadlier than 2009, and the beginning of this year has already seen more civilian and military casualties across Afghanistan than the same time last year. The cost of all boots on the ground has gone up to over $100 billion a year. Compare this to about $3 billion in civilian aid to Afghanistan, some 80% of which bypasses the Afghan government. Since 2001, this massive imbalance has accounted for Afghanistan’s cumulative weak governance and a lack of work opportunities for its youthful population, over 60% of whom are below 25. In such desperate human environment, insurgency often gains momentum. But if at least half of $100 billion were invested in state-building to deliver basic services to a destitute nation and to spur sustainable economic growth to give one in 5 Afghans a job, the insurgency would automatically be weakened and ultimately defeated. M. Ashraf Haidari is an international security and development analyst, who works with the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and formerly served as the Chargé d’Affaires and Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC.

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