Sunday, September 21, 2003

THE IRAQI-HIGHWAY: Tapped is worried that the new Iraqi army (among other things) is being built the same way the Kabul-Kandahar highway is being build. Time to ask the question again: are you going to finish an road army that is useful or half-finish an road army that is perfect?

John Snow, U.S. Treasury Secretary, visited Kabul today, meeting with Karzai (and leaving him a nice letter too!). I love the talk about "peace," and "prosperity." But talk money, Mr. Moneyman! The Washington Post:

the U.S. Treasury secretary, John W. Snow, said during a visit here that total U.S. funding for Afghan reconstruction would be about $1 billion in 2004, twice as much as in 2003, the Reuters news agency reported.
The LA Times:
[Finance Minister] Ghani said Afghanistan needed $30 billion more over the next five years. Aides said that despite his upbeat public demeanor, Ghani spoke out because he privately believes the needs of Afghanistan are considered a distant second to those of Iraq in the eyes of the U.S. and its allies.
But wait. There's a plan:
Snow said the rebuilding of Afghanistan, as well as Iraq, was a responsibility that must be shared among many countries. "We're hoping to get the amount the U.S. is coming up with at least matched" by participants at the Group of 7 meeting this weekend in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as other U.S. allies, the Treasury secretary said.
Donor conference, you say? You mean the guys who were nice enough to promise us $4.5 billion in reconstruction funding last year? Asia Times:
[US relief organization CARE] argues that donors have failed to follow through on earlier promises of desperately needed reconstruction assistance. Moreover, what aid is being provided is becoming increasingly expensive because of the insecurity that is growing outside the capital Kabul, the only part of the country that is patrolled by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Here's the State Department travel advisory for Afghanistan in case you missed it:
Afghan-Americans returning to Afghanistan to recover property have become involved in complicated disputes and, even given favorable court proceedings, often face retaliatory actions including threats of kidnapping for ransom.
Recover what property, Foggy Bottom?

Don't get me wrong here. I'm happy that the John Snow was generous enough to double aid for Afghanistan? But compare the $2 billion Afghanistan gets to the $20 billion Iraq gets. Big difference.

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