As last week’s financial crisis highlights, the United States is broke, drifting and divided. It is a far cry from the Superpower that invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The comparison is to Russia which invaded Afghanistan in 1979, only to retreat in 1988 in financial ruin and near collapse. The difference is that Russia possesses vast mineral and oil wealth, and therefore has been able to rebound. America by contrast is not so lucky. As America declines, Afghanistan must chart its own course. Its future is not with the West.
The American effort in Afghanistan has taken on a farcical appearance. The U.S. Embassy and USAID are funneling hundreds of alleged “experts” into Afghanistan who claim that they have the expertise to teach the lowly Afghans how to create jobs and a modern economy. These same experts have failed to teach the Americans how to do this, yet they continue to be shipped into Afghanistan. The lesson for Afghan officials is to listen to the Americans and then do exactly the opposite of what they recommend. These same Afghan officials needs to remember that these haughty American experts will soon be returning to the United States where the only jobs available to them are making hamburgers, cleaning rooms and frying chicken. Whatever jobs remain in America have become low wage service jobs.
One of the many facts that President Obama fails to comprehend is that he has a huge stimulus package available to him which he is ineptly sitting on. It is the Federal Budget. So much money is misused by each agency in the Government and so many regulations are unnecessary onerous and costly that the economy would rebound if there was actual competence displayed by the Executive Branch. This author has worked for or with virtually every Federal agency at one time or another. He has seen from the bottom up how they destroy incentive and squander tax funds. The view of policy-makers from the top is blurry and confused. It is likely that President Obama, who has no business background, is clueless about the actual nuts and bolts workings of his government. His advisors all come from Wall Street and their primary concern is protecting the banks and brokerage houses, and holding down inflation (which is a banking and bond-holder concern). They appear mystified as to how to create jobs and fix the economy. Like Nader Shah, Czar Nicholas II and the Empress Dowager Cixi, President Obama fails to comprehend the problems in the countryside and risks the same consequences as others who remained in blissful ignorance.
Afghanistan’s future is with China and with its neighbors to the West and East. It must use the upcoming Istanbul and Bonn conferences to devise a plan under which the nation will be able to function without Western aid, which will rapidly disappear as the world’s debt crises escalates. That means rejecting Washington’s plans for Afghanistan and inviting Taliban representatives to both conferences. It means immediately closing and consolidating military and police bases, and reducing the force-levels of security personnel to something sustainable. It means creating out-year budgets that reflect these economic realities. It may also mean rapidly ceding border and outlying districts and perhaps whole border provinces to the Taliban in negotiated agreements. Such arrangements have extensive precedent in Afghan history.
The decision last Friday by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the American credit rating was based primarily on the conclusion that officials of the U.S. Government are incapable of competently managing the country. The Government of Afghanistan should pay careful attention to that stunning conclusion and begin planning and acting under the assumption that those same officials cannot be relied upon as allies. Time is short and Afghanistan must begin to chart its own course and protect its own people. President Hamid Karzai must pronounce his new policy as “Fortress Afghanistan;” a policy under which Afghanistan relies only on itself and needs no one else.