Certainly, as most everyone knows, the battle plan appears hopeless. Every night in Marja, Taliban killers post "night letters" in mosques and other public places, warning city residents they will be killed if they cooperate with the Americans. The next day, quite often, they follow through on their threats.
Before he was fired last month, Gen.
But a larger problem afflicts the effort in
At least 26 of every 100 children born in
It makes sense, then, that fewer than one-third of Afghan adults can read and write. On average, they earn about
The cornerstone of the coalition's counterinsurgency strategy calls for the Afghan government to step up and provide stronger government institutions and public services. Afghans must begin to regard President
But consider what the dark social statistics mean for that plan. An estimated 90 percent of the new recruits for the Afghan army are illiterate. You don't have to read to shoot a rifle, but you do need to be able to read the rifle's instruction manual.
The Afghan police are no better educated, but that's not the most serious problem. Across the country, police set up impromptu checkpoints along the road. They stop cars and demand a payment for permission to pass. These are the lawmen who are going to protect the people after the Americans leave? As it is, most won't investigate a crime unless the victim pays a bribe.
What is the Afghan government doing to remedy these pernicious problems? It is sending suitcases full of cash, at least
"Taking money out of the country is fine," Karzai said during a news conference last month. "The relatives of government officials can do this," even "my brothers," who are generally regarded as the nation's most avaricious thieves.
More money leaves the country for private bank accounts each year than the government collects in taxes and fees, the
But that leaves
It can't be done.
Available at Amazon.com:
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- When the 'Right War' Goes Wrong
- The Afghanistan Paradox
- Pakistan's Gambit in Afghanistan
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- Ukrainian Blues: Viktor Yanukovych's Rise and Democracy's Fall
- Russia: Prisoners of the Caucasus
- The Afghan Challenge Is Far Tougher
- New Guard, Old Policy on Afghanistan
- Fear and Uncertainty in Afghanistan
- Afghanistan: Bribing the Enemy
- Afghanistan Poses Difficult Challenges
- Defining Success in Afghanistan
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(C) 2010 Joel Brinkley