succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, April 10, 2003


"April 10, 2003 | President George W. Bush signed the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act into law last Dec. 4, authorizing $3.3 billion in economic, political, humanitarian and security assistance for Afghanistan over the next four years. The next month, Bush submitted the 2003 budget authorization to Congress but requested slightly less than that.

As in: $0.00.

"The administration anticipated that Congress would put it in," explains a sympathetic congressional source. "So they low-balled it."

That's for sure. Congressional staffers quickly penciled in $295 million, but that still wasn't enough. "The request in the administration's appropriations bill does not come near fully funding the bill that we passed in [the Senate Foreign Relations] Committee and the president signed into law," the bill's chief author, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., tells Salon. "It does not come near it."

As we consider reconstruction plans in Iraq, and the administration promises to democratize the country, it's worth taking a look at our "liberation" of Afghanistan. A year later, many of the atrocities we thought we'd stopped still continue, and even Bush's allies in the Senate and Afghanistan think we have undercommitted to efforts that could truly change that country for the better. "

Ok, so Salon is an incredibly liberal source for news. But fact is fact - our administration promised one level of support, then delivered something totally different. Is it a good thing that we're providing Afghanistan with as much money and support as we are? Definitely. Could we do more? Perhaps. Should we avoid making promises that we cannot (or do not intend) to keep? Certainly. This is my fear about Iraq. We keep telling everyone that we're over there to liberate the poor Iraqi civilians. But what sort of historical precedent have we set? What reason have we given the Iraqi people to believe that we will carry through and actually help them improve their lives and their country? Our stated purpose may be noble, but I fear our ability to carry it out is lacking. I hope I'm wrong.


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