Blogs > Liberty and Power > With the Bush Team's "Nation-Building" in "Darkest" Afghanistan

Mar 29, 2004 6:25 am

With the Bush Team's "Nation-Building" in "Darkest" Afghanistan

For the latest example of America's skill at"nation-building," check out the article below:

Financial Times March 28 2004

UN warns on Afghanistan reverting to terrorism

By Hugh Williamson in Berlin and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad

A United Nations body will warn this week that Afghanistan is in danger of reverting to a"terrorist breeding ground" with an economy dependent on the illegal drug trade unless the international community significantly increases development funding to the war-torn country.

The warning comes in a UN Development Programme report to be presented to the international Afghanistan conference, which opens in Berlin on Wednesday.

The report, obtained by the Financial Times, complains that"aid . . . has been much lower than expected or promised. In comparison to other conflict or post-conflict situations Afghanistan appears to have been neglected".

Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced that parliamentary and presidential elections - which had been scheduled for June, will be postponed until September - a tacit acknowledgment that reconstruction efforts have stumbled.

The UNDP report notes Iraq is receiving"10 times as much development assistance with roughly the same size of population". Development inflows amount to $67 per person, compared with $248 in Bosnia Herzegovina and $256 in East Timor, according to the report.

The report's strong language increases the likelihood of tough financial negotiations at this week's conference, to be co-chaired by Afghanistan, the UN, Germany and Japan.

The Afghan government is due to present a seven-year, $28bn funding programme, while western governments have indicated that funding commitments, lasting four years at most, are unlikely to exceed the $4.5bn pledged by donors in Tokyo in 2002.

Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP head, is likely to be the most senior UN official in Berlin, as the attendance of Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general is uncertain.

The report, which compiles the UN's latest data on Afghanistan, says the country's $4bn estimated GDP is small compared with the $14bn in"military costs" spent annually in Afghanistan by western powers.

Over half the population live in extreme poverty and only Sierra Leone ranks below Afghanistan on the UNDP's human development index. Life expectancy, at below 50, is"similar to that which prevailed in the 19th century in Europe".

Separately, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, insisted the US had not over looked the terrorist threat from Afghanistan in the days before and after the September 11 attacks.

"If one looks at what was done, we went to Afghanistan - we didn't go to Iraq," he told ABC News.

"It certainly took away their training, their haven and it certainly destroyed the Taliban and eliminated them from running the country. That's what the president's action was. It wasn't Iraq. It was Afghanistan."

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