Bush Campaign Lies

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #68: Bush Policy in Afghanistan Has Made the American People Safer 

Yet another of the many lies showcased in the Bush campaign's 'Three Years of Progress in the War on Terror' document. This document outlines a brief history of the past three years in each of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya, and in each case draws a similar subtle conclusion. In the case of Afghanistan, the conclusion is "Today, because the United States acted to liberate Afghanistan, a threat has been removed, and the American people are safer" (underlining in the original).

Methinks they doth protest too much.

To begin with, I should point out that a recent report by 23 experts at Foreign Policy in Focus --- among them, Lawrence Korb, Ronald Reagan's Assistant Secretary of Defense --- has concluded that "The Bush administration’s 'war on terrorism' reflects a major failure of leadership and makes Americans more vulnerable rather than more secure".

Admittedly, Bush's approach to Afghanistan had a promising start. The U.S. worked with the Northern Alliance to win a quick victory over the Taliban in October 2001, putting us in a good position to make significant progress against al Qaeda and toward 'making the American people safer'. And had Bush kept his focus on Afghanistan, today he might honestly be able to say that his actions have made Americans safer. Unfortunately, Bush turned his attention to Iraq almost immediately, and has allowed Afghanistan to slip backward. And he successfully used smoke and mirrors to get the media and most everyone else to shift their focus from Afghanistan to Iraq as well.

The Bush campaign proudly claims that the threat from the Taliban and al Qaeda 'has been removed'. Well, not quite. Actually, U.S. troops are currently facing some of the strongest Taliban resistance of the war. And our problems in Afghanistan don't end with the Taliban. According to a recent report on the PBS NewsHour, this fall's scheduled elections have now been postponed twice because regional warlords, who control most of Afghanistan, have refused to disarm. Interim President Hamid Karzai has dropped his running mate from the ticket, which has caused the foreign minister and the education minister to resign. One could hardly call Afghanistan a model of Democracy.

This might not be so damaging to Bush's claim that the American people are safer, except for one thing: opium production in Afghanistan has skyrocketed: Afghanistan now grows 75% of the world's opium. And thanks to the White House Office of National Drug Policy's annoying commercials, we all know that part of the money obtained in the illegal drug trade goes into the pockets of terrorists.

As for al Qaeda, there are numerous analysts who insist that al Qaeda is as strong or stronger today than it was on September 11, 2001. The International Institute for Strategic Studies states that al Qaeda has "fully reconstituted, set its sights firmly on the USA and its closest Western allies in Europe and established a new and effective modus operandi that increasingly exploited local affiliates". A current CIA officer with nearly 20 years of counter-terrorism experience writes in the book Imperial Hubris that the American operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have failed to slow "the shift in strategic advantage toward al Qaeda", and that Afghanistan and Iraq are "half-finished or, more accurately, half-started wars that will be refought later".

The U.S. currently has 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, with another 1,100 scheduled to be deployed before the (Afghan) elections. Imagine how different the situation in Afghanistan might be if we hadn't invested 140,000 troops and $200 billion in Iraq.

1:30 PM