Speaking yesterday at the Virginia Military Institute, President Bush called for the establishment of a “Marshall Plan,” like the one put into place for Europe and Japan after World War II, for Afghanistan to help ensure “true peace” in the war-torn country. Bush told cadets, “Peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government.” Just how the Bush Administration plans to help the Afghan Interim Authority, however, remains unclear. The president has refused to support the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the only real means of securing stability throughout the country by encouraging disarmament, de-escalation of conflicts among warlords, restoration of women’s rights and human rights, and delivery of humanitarian services. Both Afghan and United Nations officials believe that an immediate expansion of the ISAF is essential to successful reconstruction. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated that expanding the ISAF “would significantly minimize the likelihood of large-scale hostilities erupting again between existing armed factions.”
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, has suggested that the Bush Administration is not willing to devote resources to increasing the number of peace troops throughout Afghanistan. While Rumsfeld says that he supports expansion of the ISAF generally, he does not support using U.S. forces to achieve that goal. The Defense Secretary also continues to emphasize the role of the U.S. in helping to create a national Afghan army, which will take some 18 months to establish.
The Afghan interim government does not have adequate monetary resources, which has undermined reconstruction and security. Of the $1.8 billion pledged from world donors for the first year of Afghan reconstruction, only $360 million has reached Kabul, and the United Nations estimates that $15-20 billion is needed for reconstruction. Some Afghan officials, though, have estimated the real cost as high as $45 billion. While the U.S. has donated $320 million this year in humanitarian assistance and its reconstruction pledge of $296.75 million is the largest of the donor nations, far more resources are needed to achieve the goals that Bush laid out in his VMI speech. The amount of money pledged by the U.S. and other donor countries falls far short of the true “Marshall Plan” that is needed to establish a peaceful democracy in Afghanistan and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and economy. TAKE ACTION: Support Expansion of International Peacekeeping Forces in Afghanistan for Women’s Security