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U.S. doing right thing by aiding Afghanistan

Posted: Thursday, May 02, 2002

His turnaround complete and his policies properly aligned, President Bush recently called for a major American role in rebuilding war-ravaged Afghanistan.

That's a huge reversal from candidate Bush's rejection of ''nation-building,'' but it's the right thing to do. ...

Restructuring Afghanistan, improving the lives of its long-suffering citizens and making it a strategically located friend instead of a base for enemies will be no easy task. The major burden of rebuilding will fall on the Afghan government to be launched by a traditional council later this year. But Afghanistan will need all the friends it can muster -- and America should seize this opportunity to stand at the head of that list.

... Afghanistan's troubles are deeply rooted in a fragmented landscape of tribes, tribal leaders and warlords, some of whom have resumed their fratricidal actions that allowed the Taliban to come to power. The unifying works of a Marshall-like reconstruction plan -- roads, communications, national education and health care systems -- offer the best way to consolidate a shared national vision and end the feudal poverty that fostered terrorism.

Such a plan -- which also would give the United States a chance to curb what has been a traditional world center of drug production, by making food-crop agriculture a financially viable alternative to poppy fields -- will take money. ...

For too long, America has been losing the propaganda war in the Arab world. The United States can and should take its case directly to the people -- and the best way of doing that is by extending a helping hand.

-- The Buffalo (N.Y.) News

May 1



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