07 September 2010

BUB: Afghanistan

Today's "genius" move belongs to a church in Florida, which has decided to stage a mass Koran burning. Why? Because they're a bunch of freakin' morons, that's why. They've got -zero- idea of the second- and third-order effects they are about to create.

"Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence," Gen. David Petraeus said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

His comments followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center — a small evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy — to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war.

So thanks for setting back the national cause by a few years, you twitburgers.

Petraeus warned images of burning Qurans could be used to incite anti-American sentiment similar to the pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Graib prison.

"I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible (Quran) burning. Even the rumor that it might take place has sparked demonstrations such as the one that took place in Kabul yesterday," Petraeus said in his message. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul also issued a statement condemning the church's plans, saying Washington was "deeply concerned about deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups."

You think the backwards-minded Afghans, who can't tell the difference between their own church and state (which is normal for a medieval country), are going to separate the actions of a bunch of religious nuts in Florida from official US policy? To their backwards, tribal, medieval minds, the fact that the US government isn't shutting this down means that the US somehow condones this action.

We'd better figure out how to get along with these people though, because word on the street is that the US expects to spend big in Afghanistan for years, and to supervise those investments.

The U.S. government's financial commitment to Afghanistan is likely to linger and reach into the billions long after it pulls combat troops from the country, newly disclosed spending estimates show.

The United States expects to spend about $6 billion a year training and supporting Afghan troops and police after it begins withdrawing its own combat troops in 2011.

The estimates of U.S. spending through 2015, detailed in a NATO training mission document, are an acknowledgment that Afghanistan will remain largely dependent on the United States for its security.

That reality could become problematic for the Obama administration as it continues to seek money for Afghanistan from Congress in a time of increasingly tight budgets.

In Brussels, a NATO official said Monday that alliance commander Gen. David Petraeus had asked for 2,000 more soldiers, with nearly half to be trainers for the rapidly expanding Afghan security forces. The NATO official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the subject.

The training mission document outlines large-scale infrastructure projects, including a military hospital and military and police academies, aimed at "establishing enduring institutions" and "creating irreversible momentum."

Spending for training is projected to taper off from $11.6 billion next year to an average of $6.2 billion over the following four years. Much of the reduction reflects reduced spending on infrastructure.


And why are we spending a ton of money on them? Apparently so their election candidates can abandon their constituents out of fear for their own safety.

Many incumbents from restive areas have since decamped for good to run to represent constituencies in the capital. Others who still represent their embattled provinces of origin do so in name only, scarcely, if ever, returning home to their constituents out of fear - even as election day nears. (They are permitted to run for provincial office even if they never visit home.) "It's far too dangerous to be out in public now, so I am forced to find other ways to reach my people," says Najia Aimaq, a female member of parliament from Baghlan, a northern province that saw some of the worst violence in last year's presidential election. She now lives in Kabul year-round. According to Fabrizio Foschini of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, this gathering trend is another symptom of the "government losing control around the countryside." (So far three candidates have been killed by suspected militants, with dozens more injured in attacks.) (See what Afghans think about the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.)

A year ago, Taliban threats that shut down or scared people away from hundreds of polling centers were exacerbated by widespread electoral fraud. President Hamid Karzai won his second term, but it came at the expense of the appearance of legitimacy. The upcoming poll is unlikely to be an improvement. The President has resisted the electoral reforms demanded by critics at home to address irregularities, moving instead to limit the powers of a commission tasked with investigating charges of vote-rigging. Already, more than 10% of voting stations will not even be open on election day because of a lack of security. Meanwhile, alleged war criminals are again among the nearly 2,500 standing for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, or Wolesi Jirga. As the government loses credibility, Taliban gains have prompted some Afghan officials to relocate to the big cities.

By: Brant

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