October 12, 2008

Losing the (Other) War

Afghanistan is being lost to hopelessness, fear, corruption, and indiscriminate bombings. Once more the Taliban are seen as a better answer than the chaos that engulfs the country. It says a lot that the terror of the Taliban is seen as a better answer than the malicious neglect that has made Afghanistan such a hell-hole.

Some of the more shocking statistics:

Afghanistan is now one of the poorest countries on the planet. It takes its place among desperate, destitute nations like Burkina Faso and Somalia whenever any international organization bothers to measure. The official unemployment rate, last calculated in 2005, was 40% percent. According to recent estimates, it may today reach as high as 80% in some parts of the country.

Approximately 45% of the population is now unable to purchase enough food to guarantee bare minimum health levels, according to the Brookings Institution. This winter, Afghan officials claim that hunger may kill up to 80% of the population in some northern provinces caught in a vicious drought. Reports are emerging of parents selling their children simply to make ends meet. In one district of the southern province of Ghazni last spring things got so bad that villagers started eating grass. Locals say that after a harsh winter and almost no food, they had no choice.

Kabul itself lies in tatters. Roads have gone unpaved since 2001. Massive craters from decades of war blot the capital city. Poor Afghans live in crumbling warrens with no electricity and often without safe drinking water. Kabul, a city designed for about 800,000 people, now holds more than four million, mostly squeezed into informal settlements and squatters' shacks.

Washington spends about $100 million a day on this war -- close to $36 billion a year -- but only five cents of every dollar actually goes towards aid. From this paltry sum, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief found that "a staggering 40 percent has returned to donor countries in corporate profits and salaries." The economy is so underdeveloped that opium production accounts for more than half of the country's gross domestic product.

Yet another squandered opportunity because the inept Bush administration was focused on that other "central front of the war on terror." As Bush promised in his first election, he wasn't much into that nation building stuff. Not enough money nor prestige from doing that.

And for the people of Afghanistan? The long dark night of the Taliban awaits.

Posted by Mary at October 12, 2008 06:20 PM | International | Technorati links |

The seemingly obvious tragedy of all this is that if we'd been willing to "build nations", then Afghanistan would be a much more stable nation than it is now. I'm pretty sure that the average citizen of Afghanistan has no desire to have his country run by either drug lords or religious fanatics, yet thanks partly to our unwillingness to invest in the country's infrastructure and government, they're the only people who have the resources to make anything happen there. Any improvements that the central government could have legitimately claimed credit for would have helped counter that power.

Posted by: Cujo359 at October 13, 2008 12:55 PM

THE BUSH/CHENEY LEGACY . . . Stupid is as stupid does!

By l.t. Dravis

After the Bush/Cheney administration sat around and stroked itself for 7˝ years while the economy of the United States cracked and collapsed under the weight of skewed tax policies, wasteful deficit spending, short-sighted deregulation policies, some pundits seem surprised that the world doesn’t care anything about anything George W. Bush has to say.
Why would anyone, much less a pundit, be surprised that Bush has absolutely no credibility?
Most Americans agree that the Bush/Cheney administration has been ‘managed’ by the most inept, most corrupt, most out-of-touch, lying bunch of political hacks ever to crawl on to the public scene in the history of the United States of America.
How George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could ever have been elected and re-elected to the White House is a question most thinking Americans cannot understand, much less answer.
Bush and Cheney got everything wrong . . . from how tax cuts for the wealthy would impact the economy to how their oil industry friendly energy policies would impact our economic interests around the world to the economic and political damage caused by the deception they laid on the world to justify starting the Iraq war to the ultimate destruction of our banking system as the collective result of 7˝ years of short-sighted, self-serving Bush/Cheney policies.
Could any two men be any stupider than George W. Bush or Dick Cheney?
Could any two human beings on the face of the earth have screwed things up worse than these two?
Aren’t these the two who put Alberto Gonzalez into the Attorney General’s office?
And, aren’t these the two who allowed Gonzalez to stumble around for years while he destroyed morale by playing games with the careers of United States Attorneys for political purposes?
If that wasn’t enough, aren’t these the two yokels who decided that that rambling old fool, Donald Rumsfeld, was the best qualified person in the nation to be Secretary of Defense?
And, aren’t these the two who cheered Rumsfeld on while thousands upon thousands of American troops were maimed and killed by the old man’s unbelievably incompetent ‘management’ of the Iraq War?
If you think it isn’t fair to couple Cheney and Bush together as dual dolts, let’s look at them individually.
So, why would anyone care about anything Dick Cheney might say?
Isn’t he the genius who told us that Iraqis would greet us as liberators?
And, who would trust George W. Bush to tell the truth about anything?
He’s the fool who told us just a few months ago that he wasn’t aware that gasoline had reached $4.00 a gallon at the pump.
Dear Lord . . . could these two be any stupider?
Kinda makes you wonder whether these two might suffer from some form of weird brain damage, doesn’t it?
So, what is the Bush/Cheney legacy?
Read on . . . let's let the facts speak for themselves:

• After 7˝ years of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney ‘running the country’, we face the worst economic crisis in the history of the world
• Our National Debt now exceeds $10 Trillion – so each man, woman, and child in the U.S. owes China and other countries more than $32,600.00
• The Federal Budget Deficit is approaching $500 billion for this year alone
• The U.S. Dollar is trading at all time lows against foreign currencies
• Oil sells for $88.33 per barrel today, compared to $33.51 per barrel on the day the United States invaded Iraq
• Gasoline sells for over $3.00 per gallon compared to $1.45 per gallon when George W. Bush was inaugurated in January, 2001
• Home values have declined by as much as 30% to 40% across the country
• The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down nearly 5,000 points this year over its highest point last year
• Five million Americans face home foreclosures today
• Major financial institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, and others have had to be bailed out by taxpayers
• Major U.S. corporations like Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors are edging closer and closer to bankruptcy
• The National Unemployment rate continues to climb - month after month
• A crumbling infrastructure with airports, bridges, dams, highways, pipelines, schools, and sewer and water systems falling apart with no plan and no funding
• 4,180 precious American lives have been lost in Iraq 5˝ years after the U.S. invasion and occupation
• Nearly 31,000 Americans have been wounded in Iraq
• 65,000 U.S. troops are currently held in place in Iraq by arbitrary stop-loss measures
• $700 billion has been borrowed by the Bush Administration of an estimated $3 trillion to fund the Iraq war (compared to the Bush Administration’s pre-war estimate of $50-60 billion to fight the Iraq war to conclusion)
• An estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties have occurred since the U.S. invaded Iraq
• Nearly 5 million Iraqi refugees now live inside and outside the country
• Efforts to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan have been compromised by the diversion of troops, equipment, money, and strategic focus on Iraq

So what do we do now? Blindly elect another President, Vice-President, and another batch of Representatives and Senators, then get back to 'Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘American Idol’ while we hope for the best?
Isn’t that what we did in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006?
How’s that working out for us?
Look . . . we’re Americans . . . we don’t have to get ripped off by our so-called leaders. We have the power to put a stop to this cycle of incompetence and graft!
The founding fathers didn’t constitute the government of the United States of America to be the playground of multi-millionaire politicians, lobbyists, and crooks who play at governing and steal us blind while we sit back and download our iPods and play the ‘Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’.
The power of government comes from ‘consent of the governed’ (that’s us) which means we’re supposed to assign and monitor the powers we give to Representatives, Senators, and the President.
If every Congressperson, every Senator, the President, the Vice-President, and the Cabinet knew we were monitoring their initiatives, schedules, voting records, work habits, and their sleazy 'behind the scenes' deals, they wouldn’t have time or energy to waste on lobbyists, special interests, or self interests.
Would they?

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at LTDAssociates@msn.com (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted by: l.t. Dravis at October 13, 2008 11:20 PM