In contrast to USAID projects which have huge security costs, NSP security costs are little. The Taliban is conscious of the political cost of attacking projects which are backed and "owned" by the community, as opposed to foreign contractors. Schools built by the NSP have been referred to as "the schools the Taliban won't torch."
Most Afghans still by and large dislike the Taliban and its ideology
intensely, and do not want to see it return as a government. For the
U.S. to continue to spend $100 billion a year on military operations
but not $5 billion on tried and proven programs like the NSP is
penny-wise and pound-foolish. Congressman John Tierney even found last
year that a substantial portion of Pentagon funds for the overland
transportation of U.S. military supplies goes directly to insurgent groups as "protection payments." The theater of the absurd has been elevated to world stage proportions in Afghanistan.
As Congress this week debates and votes upon the Pentagon and war budget, please tell your congressman to support an appropriation to the NSP equal to what the US spends militarily in the country in just two weeks, $4 billion. TO SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO PLEASE CLICK HERE.
The research group Jobs for Afghans estimates this would fund one to two years of robust, employment-generating development, hiring a critical mass of unemployed Afghans. Afghans are bone-weary of war. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, commander of U.S. forces in 2007, told Congress in testimony that year: ""Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families."
To miss the opportunity to bring stability to the country, at such little cost relative to what we are already spending, will not and should not be forgiven by future generations seeking a more peaceful world.
"If you are sane, and you reading these words on my grave, please keep walking. For the sane know nothing of love." - Grave marker in Afghanistan, from film documentary "Shadow of Afghanistan"
Many of us remember our unforgettable Skype conversations with the youth of Afghan Youth Peace Initiative earlier this year. This message from Abdulai is entitled "If you should kill me unawares"
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