At yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) raised concerns about the $20 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction compared to the $800 million for Afghanistan’s. He questioned whether the United States should think about spending more money in Afghanistan than Iraq because Iraq and Afghanistan’s populations are not much different and Afghanistan is a much poorer country.
According to Rumsfeld, 75 percent of the $87 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq will go to the troops “who are risking their lives in this struggle” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only $1.2 billion is included for Afghanistan, out of which only $300 million is designated for the construction of roads, school and clinics.
At this hearing, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) again raised concerns about vulnerable populations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including women. She pointed to a Human Rights Watch Report and the raping and threats targeted at girls by armed men as examples of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. Murray asserted that families are living in fear and are keeping girls home leaving them uneducated and asked what is in the supplemental to make sure families stop living in fear. Murray stated that she hopes that “we have the right kind of funding to allow young women to be educated and participate.”
Meanwhile, at a conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, international experts and aid organizations called for the expansion of ISAF. According to the Washington Post, they said “it was urgently needed to ensure that Afghanistan continues moving toward national election and economic reconstruction.”