Policy experts and Bush administration officials have conceded privately that President Bush’s policy in Afghanistan is “high on the rhetoric of commitment and low on the level of engagement,” the Washington Post reported today. This policy includes a continued refusal to expand the role of international peacekeeping forces outside Kabul as well as limited US troop commitment and only a modest amount of US aid. “They are just doing barely enough to stay in the game,” Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NB), who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the Post.
Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – led by Committee Chair Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) and the committee’s sole female member Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) – pulled a bipartisan about face on the administration by unanimously approving $1 billion to support the expansion of international peace troops and $2 billion in humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, the US Assistant Secretary of State told military leaders in the northern part of Afghanistan that US aid for refugees in that region will not be renewed until law and order are achieved, according to BBC News. “How can the United States turn its back on humanitarian aid in Afghanistan while refusing to help promote the law and order they require to return to the region,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. “The Bush administration needs to build on the bipartisan initiative of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and become part of the solution by supporting expansion of international peace troops beyond Kabul.”
The Feminist Majority is spearheading the drive for ISAF expansion and a significant increase in reconstruction financing. With the women of Afghanistan repeatedly proclaiming security as their top priority, the Feminist Majority and other women’s organizations have been asking the Bush administration to expand peacekeeping troops beyond Kabul for the past six months. A series of recent events throughout Afghanistan have shown the need for expansion of peacekeeping forces both within and beyond Kabul is urgent.