Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Vice versa,"The Baltimore Sun, July 28, 2006.

Symptoms of failure are becoming harder to deny in Afghanistan. The Taliban is resurgent in the south, probably in part because of support from within Pakistan. Hundreds of civilians have died in fighting this year, including some killed in NATO bombing raids. President Hamid Karzai has told two governors to re-arm their private militias, which is a big step backward but indicative of the weakness of the Afghan police. Drought is once again afflicting the north, pushing farmers either to move or to concentrate on the one crop that doesn't need much irrigation - the opium poppy. [and] Mr. Karzai has reportedly given his blessing to the reincarnation of a Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Suppression of Vice.

The Western nations, distracted by Iraq and now Lebanon, have stumbled badly in Afghanistan....The Western presence has not significantly improved schools, roads, order and prosperity - but it has encouraged prostitution and alcohol consumption. After a half-decade of friendly occupation, what does Mr. Karzai have to show for it? Too much vice and insufficient virtue.... If the United States had not bungled the material and political reconstruction of Afghanistan so badly, it would not now be facing what may become an essentially military problem....Yesterday (a week ago Thursday, the 27th) found Mr. Karzai in neighboring Tajikistan, attending a three-way summit that includes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. The US could still lose in Afghanistan.
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