Monday, February 9, 2015

Afghanistan Was a Success!

Who would have thought it?

From Strategy Page:
While most Americans and the mass media worldwide have declared the 13 year U.S./NATO effort in Afghanistan a failure, most Afghans disagree. Although over 100,000 died during those 13 years nearly half the deaths in the 13 year war were Taliban, other Islamic terrorists and their drug gang allies. Another 30 percent of the dead were civilians, usually the targets of Taliban or gang intimidation. The Afghan security forces (mostly the police, plus the army) suffered 18 percent of the deaths. A little over three percent of the deaths were foreign troops, who gave the government forces an edge in firepower, support, intel and tactical leadership. The death toll since 2001 is a lot less than the millions who died during the decade of fighting the Russians and less than suffered during the 1990s when Afghans fought each other.

Most Afghans are well aware that in many ways their lives are much better since the Americans arrived. GDP has grown continuously since 2001 with average family income increasing noticeably each year. In early 2001 only a million children were in school, all of them boys. Now there are eight million in school, and 40 percent are girls. Back then there were only 10,000 phones in the country, all very expensive land lines in cities. Now there are 17 million inexpensive cell phones with access even in remote rural areas. Back then less than ten percent of the population had access to any health care, now 85 percent do and life expectancy has risen from 47 years (the lowest in Eurasia) to 62 (leaving Bangladesh to occupy last place in Eurasia). This is apparently the highest life expectancy has ever been in Afghanistan and the UN noted it was the highest one decade increase ever recorded. Afghans have noticed this even if the rest of the world has not.

Opinion polls show 60 percent of Afghans believe the country is going in the right direction and 90 percent respect the army (and 70 percent the police). Only ten percent respect the Taliban, despite foreign media predicting that the Taliban will soon regain control of the country. Afghans scoff at that, if only because most would rather die fighting rather than submit to Taliban rule again. Foreigners tend to forget that angle, but the Afghans don’t. While many Afghans are saving to pay a smuggler to get them to the West (where they can make a lot more money and live even longer) most are staying and see better prospects than have existed for decades.
What other country in history has done more good for more people than has the United States? It's a remarkable record. Since WWII we have rebuilt Europe and helped our erstwhile enemies in Germany and Japan develop strong, relatively free economies and polities. We also helped Israel and South Korea do likewise. In addition, we've rendered valuable economic and humanitarian aid to Africa, Egypt, Haiti and those nations devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Our assistance has been a factor in India's emergence as an economic power. What we've done for Afghanistan, Jordan, and Iraq, though tenuous in the case of Iraq, is nonetheless a marvel. Despite all our flaws, which our president seems fixated on reminding us of and apologizing for, the United States is still the greatest blessing the world has ever had.

If that grates on the ears of progressives who prefer to focus on our national sins, I challenge them to name another nation which has done half as much. And if this sounds like unsophisticated chauvinistic boosterism to those same progressives, well, I urge them not to insist on holding their collective breath waiting for an apology.