Skip to content

Discouraging Statistics About NATO's Afghanistan Mission

A poll commissioned by the Der Spiegel found that 57 percent of surveyed Germans wanted a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, while 36 percent were in favor of continued engagement, writes DW World. Only four percent backed increasing the German military presence in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Watch has more discouraging  numbers:
Number of daily bombing missions, June-Nov 2006: 18.
Ratio of bombs dropped in 2006 to 2005: 10 to 1.
Number of counternarcotics police in all of Helmand province: 38.
Number of vehicles they have: 3.
Percent of Americans who believe the war in Afghanistan “was worth fighting”: 56; Percent who do not: 41.
Percent who think the U.S. is “doing enough” to rebuild Afghanistan: 63.
Kabul is home to 3.4 million people but has no public sewage system, writes the Christian Science Monitor:
Larger than the next 10 largest Afghan cities combined, Kabul estimates its most basic needs require $55 million this year; its budget is $4.5 million. Residents complain, but they cope. Despite the smell of sewage and mile-long walks to get drinking water, Kabul finds ways to function.
American Footprints therefore asks "Can't we find $50 million somewhere?"

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

pen Name on :

As I have said in this forum before: you guys (EU & US) are working in Afghanistan as though she is in vacuum. Your project in Afghanistan will only succeed if you encourage the commercial, economical, and cultural exchange between Afghanistan and her neighbours. Of her neighbours, Turkmenistan & Tadjikistan have too small an economy to help, China os too far away, and Pakistan is your enemy. That leaves Iran - but then you are now doing your best to try to isolate Iran. You guys just do not care about Afghanistan, in my judgement. Without us, you are doomed to failure in Afghanistan. I think you guys are being obdurate and foolish.

Pat Patterson on :

Why are these numbers discouraging seeing as how the links that Afghanistan Watch used are simply not working. The IHT link doesn't work nor does The Herald. Only the WaPo article referring to the ratio of border police between Pakistan and Afghanistan failed to take into account the size difference between the two countries. Pakistan has over 5 times the population and its economy is 22 times bigger than Afghanistan. Why therefore is this ratio, perfectly natural considering the ongoing war in Afghanistan and its smaller size, depressing? The USAF figures talk about the increase in bombing because the accuracy vs. the Taliban has become better via NATO and the Afghans providing better targeting information. This logic would have meant that the US should have negotiated with Nazi Germany on the 7th of June because of the huge increase in american and German casualties on the Western Front. Soldiers can't kill each other when there is the Channel in the way just as bombers can't bom the Taliban if they don't know where they are. I did like the poll, Sec. Rice has a 10% better approval rating than Rep. Pelosi. Which doesn't prove a thing other than someone made some money selling polling data to the press. All in all a link that is not up to the standards that I have come to appreciate from Atlantic Review.

Pat Patterson on :

the second article is even worse for its omissions. If one follows the link to the original Christian Science Monitor the $50 million, that US is denying the plucky Afghans, is the needs of the entire city government for one year. Not $50 million to repair the sewers and treatment plants destroyed or neglected over the last 30 years not just the last 5 years. Two projects, slated to finish over the next two years, will total between them $650 million dollars for clean water and reliable power. And the article makes it very clear that much of the difficulty in fixing the sewage systems is the gridlock of the city and national government and that the population has increased by 1 million in the last 5 years. What other city in the world could absorb those kind of numbers and not have trouble providing basic services. Plus American Footprints didn't see fit to reprint the last quote in the article from former refugee that now lives in his own home on one of the surrounding hills of Kabul, "We are poor people, we are happy here...I am safe here."

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Okay the quote about 50 mio was confusing. "Two projects, slated to finish over the next two years, will total between them $650 million dollars for clean water and reliable power." Too damn slow! The international community is involved in Afghanistan for more than 5 years now! Why are they "slated to finish" those projects over the next two years? Why not finished them in the last five? They should have expected that Kabul would grow bigger. I get really mad about all this kind of stuff, especially since our genius politicians and pundits talk about "nation-building" and democracy and those things. How the hell do they want to achieve any of this, if they cannot even set up basic services like reliable drinking water and power. Germany/Europe and the US should never ever talk about such things as bringing democracy to another country and doing nation-building and stuff, if they (we) are not willing or not capable to set up the basics. I see no point in our presence in Afghanistan, if we are not taking those basic things serious. We should either do an international intervention right or not do it at all. This lackluster committment is not furthering our interests at all, but actually harming our interests.

Don S on :

Pat: "Two projects, slated to finish over the next two years, will total between them $650 million dollars for clean water and reliable power." Joerg: "Too damn slow! The international community is involved in Afghanistan for more than 5 years now! Why are they "slated to finish" those projects over the next two years? Why not finished them in the last five? They should have expected that Kabul would grow bigger." When you first posted the piece I had a weird thought, Joerg. That thought was that Germany is providing garrison troops where? In Kabul, correct? And the sewage problem ought to be an obvious one to anyone living in Kabul, correct? So you ask (quite correctly) why someone in the US hasn't seen and done something about it? Pat replies that they (we) have, and you tell us that it's too slow. OK, so why didn't Germany do the job? Germany seems to be looking for contributions they can make to the alliance - and not finding them very often. The contribution in this case was to scathingly ask why the US hasn't been on the job. Most often that is the contribution Germans (and other Europeans to be fair) make - scathing criticism of the US. But of positive action - rather less of that..... Ok, fair enough. We americans aren't perfect, nothing could be more obvious. But - we do try. Can Europe say the same? Sometimes I'm sure. Often enough? So the poor undersewered people of Kabul will have to wait for their system to be built by the US. Thirty years of neglect of the Kabul sewer system by the US government now has to be fixed right away - Europeans will accept no less!

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Germany has 400 troops in Kabul, but Kabul is not Germany's main responsibility. The US has more troops in and around Kabul As you know, Germany is in charge of the North. [url]http://www2.hq.nato.int/ISAF/media/pdf/placemat_isaf.pdf[/url] "So you ask (quite correctly) why someone in the US hasn't seen and done something about it?" I did not ask that specific question. The lack of (re)construction is a disgrace of the entire international community. I thought, I had been very clear about that. "Pat replies that they (we) have, and you tell us that it's too slow." Pat, were you talking about a US project? I thought you just spoke in general about a project.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Don, have a look at the above link. The UK, France and Bulgaria are in charge of ISAF in Kabul. Though, reconstruction is not ISAF's main mission so far. Thus, the blame goes to the entire international community rather than those nations.

Don S on :

"Germany has 400 troops in Kabul, but Kabul is not Germany's main responsibility. The US has more troops in and around Kabul" Umm, yes Joerg. I believe I have noted the relative dearth of German troops in Afghanistan on a number of occasions. ;) So apparently that means that Germany has less obligation than the US to provide aid? The arithmetic is interesting: The US has 21,000 troops to Germany's 3000 and France's 1000. Judging by proportion the US is therefore obligated to provide 700% of the aid Germans provide and 2100% of French aid! We've clearly been falling down on the job. Europe is quite right to scathingly criticise us yanks - scathing criticism being the only kind that righteous Europe knows how to administer.

Pat Patterson on :

Ok, the link to the IHT is working now but the article though interesting basically is about the mistakes Russia and Italy made and the possibility that the US is doing the same things. Though I was confused that the building of a Catholic church could be compared to the official state atheism that the Russians imposed on the Afghan elite. It should be noted that the two projects I mentioned are on schedule and will cost almost a billion dollars, that's 4% of the total GDP of Afghanistan, the GDP not the national budget. I doubt seriously if any country in the world has that much money devoted to infrastructure improvements. I guess my faith in these large scale projects is more amenable to success over decades not months. Many parts of Germany did not have power even after the end of the formal part of the Marshall Plan in 1952. Mexico City gives off a pong, of open ditches, so bad that people swear that it can be smelled simply flying over the city. This collapse of city services is mainly due to population increases and an incompetent municipal overnment, much like Kabul. Many areas in South America, Asia and Africa still don't have sewage systems other than those left over from the colonial periods. I'll give a two examples just from where I live. The Owens Water Project(to bring water to the arid LA Basin) was conceived in the late 90's, the 1890's, the water rights weren't secured until 1904 and the dams, aqueducts and pumps weren't completed until 1913. And aside from some Owens Valley farmers and ranchers trying to blow up the spillways in the Depression, the project did not face anywhere near the problems in Afghanistan and people in LA voted the mayor out of office, in 1912, because the water came 3 years later than promised. The other example is the Century Freeway in South LA County, which was approved and designed in the late 50's and wasn't completed and opened until 1998. That's 40 years, without the excuse of RPGs, religious fanatics, or NGOs. But California did have a stable and mostly responsive democratic government, a rapidly expanding exconomy, eager and competent construction companies and a population that for the most part hadn't fled to Nevada. If under even the most ideal of circumstances these type of projects are late or never built then I simply can't hyperventilate about how long the Afghans will have to wait. My complaint about the original post, not whether Afghanistan Watch is unreliable, was simply that a disparate collection of facts, with absolutely no context, have been used not to initiate discussion but simply to forestall that discussion. Much more germane would have been a link to WHO that generally shows that since 2002 most health indicators in Afghanistan are showing improvement in spite of the turmoil and the staggering number of refugees returning and then settling in Kabul. The rhetorical question would be that if the sewage system is worse now then before why are the number typhoid and dengue fever cases dropping? [url]http://www.who.int.en[/url]

Kevin Sampson on :

"Two projects, slated to finish over the next two years, will total between them $650 million dollars for clean water and reliable power." Too damn slow!"

Kevin Sampson on :

"Two projects, slated to finish over the next two years, will total between them $650 million dollars for clean water and reliable power." Too damn slow!" Where did you get your degrees in civil and electrical engineering? Seven years sounds about right to me, given the remoteness of the area, the lack of any kind of local support services, lack of local skilled labor, length of logistics train, etc.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Pat, There is only a single link on the Afghanistan Watch site that is not working: The Herald. The IHT link IS working. Maybe IHT had a technical problem at the time you checked the link. For your service, here is the direct link: Repeating Soviet mistakes by Valerio Pellizzari [url]http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/15/opinion/edpllizzari.php[/url]

Don S on :

Pat, the omissions you cite are typical of the kind of reliable information often provided by our esteemed journalists not only in the US but globally. The difference is that accurate information is published in some places in the US while European 'journalists' mostly piggyback on the efforts of US journalists with a clear political agenda.

Volker on :

"US journalists with a clear political agenda." When I want a political agenda I'll listen to politician. Journalist should be free of any political agenda. They should report the facts, the truth if you want. I know that happens rarely in the EU an US, I hope that will change. American Footprints is a group of regular Americans offering commentary on American foreign policy with a multiplicity of views from a liberal perspective. So europeans piggyback?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Pat and Don, You seem to be more bothered by some omissions than by the situation in Afghanistan and US and German polls about it. Why? Percent of Americans who believe the war in Afghanistan “was worth fighting” only 56%. And Germans in favor of withdrawal: 57% I conclude that there is not much public support in Germany for the Afghanistan mission. And there is not that much support among Americans either. Since the tasks in Afghanistan are big and require einen langen Atem (long-term committement), these polls are discouraging. Re the omissions: I did include the positive phrase "Kabul finds ways to function." in one of the quotes re the sewage problem. Afghans don't expect Western living standards. Europeans and Americans would freak out, if they (we) had live our life as the average Afghan does, but Afghans manage to deal with it. Still, this does not mean that the West can lean back and pat ourselves on the back. Quite the contrary.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

The international community does not help Afghanistan enough. Isn't that obvious? The majority of American commentators (incl. Don in the comments here) seems to see primarily the insurgency war in Southern Afghanistan. That is all Don is interested in apparently. Many fail to see that civil reconstruction is crucial to win hearts and minds. We want the Afghans to support the Karzai governments and democracy and pro-Western politics. To achieve these extremely ambitious goals we have to win hearts and minds. Everytime we kill an Afghan, this goal becomes more and more unrealistic. If we can't provide a sewage system in Kabul, then we won't win hearts and minds either. Damn it. [b]If our army corps of engineers and development aid agencies do not even get enough funding to start building a sewage system, how do we expect to defeat the insurgency, which is a much more difficult task than providing a sewage system... [/b] And obiviously the sewage problem is just one of many problems. And this is Kabul, the capital, where the Afghan government, hundreds of NGO and all embassies are. The situation is probably much worse in the rest of the country. [b]Compared to the military costs of fighting an insurgency, a few billion dollars for reconstruction is cheap and a better investment.[/b] See my earlier post on Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap" which quotes a German UN offical as saying: [b]"In Kosovo we have spent ten times more money per inhabitant than in Afghanistan." [/b] [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/490-Afghanistan-Intervention-on-the-cheap.html[/url] I understand German reluctance to send troops to Southern Afghanistan. I don't have any understanding for the lack of funding for Afghanistan. That is a disgrace and utterly unacceptable. Afghan teachers get a very small salary. Many grow opimum crops as a side job. It would be damn easy (and cheap)[b] to double the salary of teachers. [/b] The same goes for policemen. Fixing the sewage and increasing the budget for schools, hospitals etc in Afghanistan will decrease support for the Taliban and other militants. This will achieve more than sending thousand troops more to Southern Afghanistan. [b]If Northern Afghanistan becomes a shining role model with a booming economy etc, then the folks in Southern Afghanistan will end their support for the Taliban and other insurgents. [/b] All this is not rocket science. So... Either our politicians are damn stupid or I am myself damn stupid for failing to take something vital into consideration. What could that be? @ Pen Name, I am in favor of more cooperation with Iran re Afghanistan.

pen Name on :

I am glad to hear that you are in favor of the Iranian involvement. Reading the other comments just reinforces what I said - you do not care about Afghanistan, all you care about is your own little tactical projects pursued in a vacuum. We will continue to work with Karzai Government and assist in Western Afghanistan. Persoanlly, in the absence of Iran - West settlement, I expect you guys to leave Afghanistan in the next few years and your Western sector in Afghanistan to revert back to Taliban. Under such circumstances, we will have to try to salvage what we can of Western and Northern Afghanistan (together with Russia & India).

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Are you saying that Iran cares more about the Afghan people than the West? How could we measure that?

pen Name on :

We care more because we live next door to them. They are not some sort of humanitarian project to us for our bleeding hearts to use until they get tired and move on to the next crisis. We accepted - both in absolute and relative terms - the largest numbers of refugees since Soviet incurion into Afghanistan in 1980. Not you, not US, not EU, and not Pakistan. We did not force the Afghans to stay in refugees camps - we gave them ids and let them participate in the national economic life of Iran as well as the Iranian citizens. We regret that we could do no more but you guys were helping our enmey fight a war against us and we did not have the resources to help Afghans as much as we wanted to. Later, after the end of Ira-Iraq War, our repeated attempts to get more funding for Afghan refugees in Iran from the UN Refugee Agency were met with indifference. It was part of your strategy of burdening us with this problem. Our repeated attempts to alert you to the dangers of Taliban were also met with indifference: you were hoping that we would go to war with them; a repeat of Iran - Iraq War. Any way, Taliban was a creature of your allies: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE. We have pledged and are spending 500 Million dollars. Given then size of our economy it is more generous than yours. We have completed the building of teh highway to Herat and are in the process ofbuilding the rail road to taht city; which, for the first time in history, makes it possible to ship goods to Afghanistan from Europe through a rail-road link. We are sending Persian language books to Afghanistan and those that are published in Iran for Afghans are receiving subsidized rates on ink & paper. We are letting goods destined for Afghan to tranist through our territory without the usual transit fees. We are doing what we can for Afghanistan with the resources that we have - all during the time that you are threatening us with isolation, death and destruction.

Pat Patterson on :

The UNHCR has published that there are over 8.3 million Afghan refugees mainly in Iran and Pakistan. The latest figures would indicate, those numbers reported to the High Commissioner by Iran, that there are 1.3 million afghans in Iran(the CIA World Factbook puts the figure at 662+ thousand). While Pakistan, with roughly twice the population has some 2.4 million refugees(again the Factbook claims Pakistan actually has half that number). Any links to other sources would be appreciated but the rough numbers would suggest that Pakistan has taken in twice as many refugees as Iran but Iran has taken in a slightly larger number on a per capita basis.

pen Name on :

I have been imprecise; sorry about that. Teh numbers that I mentioned included the refugees that we accepted from Iraq in 1991. I have to search and find the precise period during which we had accepted more refugees - per capita and in absolute terms - whcih was larger than any one else. Please stand by.

Pat Patterson on :

Links would be helpful but thanks for the correction. That still is a staggering number of refugees to take in and any country that does so should be commended.

David on :

Rory Stewart is a British journalist who lives in Kabul and wrote a book about walking across Afghanistan. For the past month he has been a guest contributor to the New York Times and has written some great stuff. He agrees with Joerg that the west should focus more on large infrastructure projects. But he also suggests a smaller footprint. A recent essay was entitled: "When Less is More" (unfortunately this is behind the NYTimes paid-subcription firewall). Here's an excerpt: "Sometimes it is better for us to do less. Dutch forces in the province of Uruzgan have found that, when left alone, the Taliban alienate communities by living parasitically, lecturing puritanically and failing to deliver. But when the British tried to aggressively dominate the South last summer, they alienated a dangerous proportion of the local population and had to withdraw. Pacifying the tribal areas is a task for Afghans, working with Pakistan and Iran. It will involve moving from the overcentralized state and developing formal but flexible relationships with councils in all their varied village forms. The conventional wisdom seems to be that we squandered an opportunity in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, being distracted by Iraq and not bringing enough troops or resources. But my experience in Afghanistan has led me to believe that the original strategy of limiting our role was correct."

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks, David, I read his article the other day in the IHT, where it is free for everybody: [url]http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/20/opinion/edstewart.php[/url]

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options