Feb 9, 2009

Afghan Update from ABC News

It's not in-depth, but at least ABC realizes that much of the problem lies with the Karzai regime and his corrupt government. Now, if they'd follow the Marine Corps "Valley Campaign' strategy, the American public would know that there is a viable solution to the Afghan problem:

Afghanistan: Where Things Stand

ABC - World News With Charles Gibson
February 8, 2009

DAN HARRIS: And here’s another huge challenge facing President Obama: What to do about Afghanistan, where today two American soldiers were killed while trying to defuse a bomb in Helmand Province, which is a Taliban stronghold.

All this week, ABC News will be running a special series called “Afghanistan: Where Things Stand.”

ABC’s Nick Schifrin reports from Kabul tonight, where pessimism and corruption are rising along with the violence.

NICK SCHIFRIN: Seven years later, $42 billion spent, 1,070 international troops dead and Afghanistan is less safe, its people less hopeful, and its government less trusted than any time since the war began.

Security has deteriorated to the point where the U.S. is planning to send 30,000 more troops on top of 32,000 already here. The U.S. admits it neglected this war.

GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN [Cmdr., ISAF, U.S. Forces, Afghanistan]: It has been of a lower priority than the Iraq theater in terms of U.S. commitment, and so I think there is a feeling among all – to include myself – that we would like to be further along.

SCHIFRIN: Attacks against troops and civilians are up as much as 60 percent and the capital is under siege.

MAHMOOD GAILANI [Member, National Assembly]: The Taliban are getting very close to Kabul, are very close to the provincial capitals.

SCHIFRIN: With a lack of security has come a lack of economic development. The majority of Afghans are unemployed.

And while the majority of Afghans suffer, they see this. This is a neighborhood nicknamed “The City of Loot.” The houses are owned by Afghan politicians, but not bought with their salaries. It’s widely believed these houses are bought with drug money.

Rampant corruption has made President Hamid Karzai’s government widely unpopular. His aides admit graft is everywhere. Bribes are required even to get basic necessities.

YASIN OSMANI [Office of Oversight]: Now is the time to be cured of this heart disease.

SCHIFRIN: As President Obama’s special envoy for this region recently put it: “Nobody would argue this war is going well.”

Nick Schifrin, ABC News, Kabul.

HARRIS: Our senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz just got back from Afghanistan. Martha, we heard Nick mention the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He today – Richard Holbrooke – said that Afghanistan – winning there would be tougher than winning in Iraq. Does that jibe with what you’re hearing from your sources?

MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, it certainly does, Dan. And to hear Richard Holbrooke say that today in public – he had very strong comments. He said, I have never seen anything like the mess we have inherited. He wasn’t the only one. Gen. David Petraeus, who’s now charged with this area, said it has deteriorated markedly in the last two years.

Dan, I think what they are doing is preparing Americans for a long haul. And as you know, and as Nick reported, it has already been a very long haul.

HARRIS: And to drill down on that a little bit. Are they basically preparing us for more American casualties?

RADDATZ: I think they are because they want to send, as Nick mentioned, about 30,000 more troops. When you have more troops in an area, you undoubtedly will have more casualties. And David Petraeus said today he wants to send some of these troops in the combat outposts into the provinces. It is going to be much, much more dangerous for those troops.

HARRIS: Our senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz. Thank you.