Afghanistan the unheard of success story

In a recent poll 60% of Britons were found to have thought the invasion of Afghanistan was a waste of time and having not achieved much. While Iraq has dominated the headlines, it is Afghanistan where the first war after 9/11 was fought when the then unelected, tyrannical so-called Taliban government were quickly removed from office – which has been the biggest foreign policy success of Bush’s presidency. The achievements of this intervention were confirmed recently when a new election was fought between a multitude of candidates ranging from an international banker to a former warlord with his fighters still by his side. The election (which cost around £100 million) to create has managed a turnout of 7 million people – which is more than that of the last election. This is evidence of a true democratic culture blooming in Afghanistan, the turnout which has shown 65% of men voting and even 35% of women who have proudly cast a vote to decide their country’s future. A woman vice presidential candidate even appeared and was in the running as a serious candidate, with her ministerial background under the Karzai administration.

Considering that under the Taliban girls were not allowed to go to school let alone be part of government it has been simply transformational. In stadiums where the Taliban used to perform public executions and mutilations under their vision of Sharia, there were colourful displays with candidates speaking about their beliefs and what they wanted to achieve. Women of all ethnic groups, who are usually divided, came together to listen and to take part in the democratic process which is craved by a country scarred by tyranny and battle. Here we belittle democracy and forget that our own civil war establishing parliament ended long ago. In Afghanistan it is still dangerous to vote with the Taliban vowing to disrupt and trying to destroy the democratic process. Voting in this country can be literally a life and death situation.

The fight for Afghanistan has been a struggle and it is correct when analysts argue “it has cost a lot of blood and treasure”. However what these analysts and the public often forget is the progress which has been made inside the country. This is not only limited to enfranchising a democratic process which will lead to the first peaceful handing over of power in the country’s history, but it is also about making real gains in the movement against nihilistic terrorists who care nothing for people’s lives, livelihoods or freedoms. The former ‘government’ banned music, sports, television and all forms of imagery. They decided to blow up historical monuments which were “unislamic” including the Buddhas of Bamiyan and believed that girls were not fit for school or to dress how they wish.

Much of this has changed, 3 million girls are now in school and women can participate in politics and sports, such as cricket with national teams playing all manner of sports in stadiums which used to be used for gruesome purposes by sadists. While women’s rights are far from perfect significant progress has been made. The former government even tried to deny Afghanistan its national sovereignty by declaring it an Islamic emirate not a sovereign state, a position they reaffirmed last year during a press conference. Afghanistan was deemed to be a failed nation when coalition forces finally intervened, Afghanistan was viewed alongside Somalia as one of the only states in the world beyond repair due to the antiquated, fascistic and bone headed policies of a totalitarian regime which exported nothing but terror and dread to its citizens and to the international community.

While it is still one of the poorest nations in the world, literacy is greatly improved, an oil pipeline towards neighbouring nations is under way and an infrastructure is being built from schools to roads to help improve the chances of long term success of a stable Afghanistan state. The seeds of success are being slowly grown by the people themselves.

The former government also gratefully hosted international terrorists and their training camps for a small sum of money. These bases were set up before and after the U.S.S Cole bombing which killed over 40 US service personnel which was an unprovoked attack by Osama Bin Laden who essentially bought the Taliban off with funds and support for their cause. The Taliban has been driven from power and are fragmented as the leadership is running out of ideas. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has been built up into an organised force and with coalition forces set to remain to advise and an investment of billions of dollars is set to be signed, so there is little chance of the new regime in Kabul falling. Sections of the leadership of the Taliban have even talked about reform and not being so egregiously destructive towards women’s rights as one small example, although the democratic process seems to be a step too far as they have not only refrained from becoming a political party (not that they have much support) but have also dedicated their efforts to try and destroy the process of democracy. However this is one of the true successes of the intervention, not only is the Taliban looking like a defeated organisation with little if any support left in the country, but even this group is talking about small changes.

When the non-serious stop the war campaigners moan about the intervention in Afghanistan and complain it has been a complete failure I find it a demonstrable lie, based on credulity of anti-western sentiment at any cost even to the point of backing dictators. If there has been one failure of this war, it is the lack of widely known positives that Afghanistan is now experiencing due to the removal of the Taliban government.

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