Afghanistan Votes II
That is to say that the participation of voters will occur if the nearly 130,000 foreign soldiers, together with the Afghanistan army and national police, are able to secure the precinct voting sites from significant fighting. Many observers believe the Taliban forces are about to wage a major effort designed to force the Kabul government to cancel the ballot for the second time this year – and perhaps bring down the current Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
For its part, Pentagon has nearly completed deploying the 17,000 Marines and army soldiers that President Obama authorized when he became the U.S. command-in-chief January 20th of this year. This brought the total U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to 29,000, but most outside observers expect the U.S. commander, General Stanley McChrystal, will ask for another 20,000-22,000 soldiers beginning with the start of the new fiscal year October 1st. (Overall foreign military presence from 42 countries stands now at approximately 62,000.)
And that’s not all that McChrystal will be seeking. He reportedly is expected to expand further the size of the Afghan army and improve its state of training. This will require more troops to handle this activity while still other troops will balance two other missions: drive back a suddenly re-invigorated Taliban movement and establish a more consistent and effective presence of representatives from the central government throughout the country.
Early estimates place the cost of this effort, along with reconstruction and development aid, at more than $9.3 billion per annum for the next ten to twenty years. (To date, the U.S. has spent $225 billion on combat and development activities in Afghanistan as compared to the $684 billion n Iraq.) Even should this cost be accurate, Afghanistan’s most critical need now is to create the sense of security that has eluded the modern population for the last 30 years.
No empire has ever succeeded in conquering the people or the country of Afghanistan, nor have the various tribes ever successfully created a functional unified national system of governance able to maintain its power internally. This suggests that acquiring peace and security – both internally and externally – will continue to be the most critical need that must be met if Afghanistan is ever to emerge as more than a perpetual failed political entity.