Watch CBSN Live

Column: American Tragedy Abroad Extends Beyond Iraq Borders

This story was written by Jonah Zinn, Badger Herald

Many people have come to the conclusion that the war in Iraq is unjustified because of the obvious absence ofweapons of mass destructionand the lack of evidence that al-Qaida is linked to Iraq. But what about the war in Afghanistan? Up to this point it has earned the title of the Good War, the war that is actually fighting terrorism and the Taliban head-on. However, as is the case with Iraq, few actually know how horrendous the situation in Afghanistan has become and how the $100 million of American taxpayer money is really being spent every day.

With the election of Barack Obama as our 44th president, the focus of our military foreign policy will undoubtedly shift toward the war in Afghanistan. Now more than ever it is imperative for the American people to learn the real facts about the war. As more and more Americans are killed in the name of the War on Terror, it is the right of the American citizens to know what our brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, parents and friends are really dying for.

So here are the facts: The unemployment rate in Afghanistan as of 2005 reached upwards of 45 percent. However, recent estimates suggest unemployment as high as 80 percent in some areas. Since there is such a lack of work in the severely underdeveloped Afghan economy, more than half the countrys GDP is devoted to opium production. According to Afghan officials, this winter may kill as much as 80 percent of the population in some northern provinces due to a shortage of food that has been compounded by a massive drought.

The food shortage is so critical in some places that Afghan parents have been driven to sell their children in order to survive. Others have had no alternative source of nourishment besides eating grass. While one might hope that the American forces have been struggling to combat this horrendous spike in hunger and unemployment, in reality only $5 million of the $100 million a day being spent in Afghanistan is devoted toward humanitarian aid, while a whopping $40 million returns to donor countries in the form of corporate profits.

Proponents of the war argue we have established a functioning Afghan government and that the Taliban is on the run. Both these claims are false. The established Hamid Karzai government is incapable, weak and corrupt. It provides little to no social services and expends all its efforts trying to hold itself together. According to a 2008 U.S. intelligence report, only about 30 percent of Afghanistan is controlled by the national government. The rest is ruled by local tribal leaders and warlords who are not affected by the jurisdiction of Karzais government. Karzai is also notoriously corrupt, pardoning dangerous criminals who have committed such crimes as bayonet-raping a woman and turning a blind eye to his brother, one of the top heroin lords in the country.

As to the fight against the Taliban, al-Qaida has resurged as far as Kabul, the capital, and proves to be an attractive alternative to the American forces. In 2007, U.S. and NATO forces surged in Afghanistan, increasing troop levels by 45 percent. However, this surge also saw a 50 percent increase in violence as well as a decline in jobs, reconstruction and security. The decline in jobs, food and hope pushes Afghanis into the arms of the Taliban, which can offer a salary and the promise of expelling the invading Americans from Afghanistan.

With a large troop surge expected to occur in Afghanistan under Obama, it is important that we as the American public are truly aware of the consequences of such a surge to the American troops as well as to the Afghan population.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue