“President Bush owed Americans a candid assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, but offered more misleading rhetoric. Less than five years after American troops masterfully toppled the Taliban, the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again. Time is running out to avert disaster in the war we were right to fight after 9/11.
Funded largely by the flourishing opium trade, the resurgent Taliban continues to threaten the Karzai government, especially in southern Afghanistan. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled.
We have seven times more troops in the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq, which our own intelligence agencies say fuels terrorism, than we have in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda still roams free. And his words about providing money to rebuild Afghanistan ring hollow when his Administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than for Afghanistan and actually cut Afghan aid by 30% this year. The President continues to pretend that the recent plot to blow up US-bound jets justifies the war in Iraq when that plot was masterminded from Afghanistan by the same al Qaeda types who attacked us on 9/11.
We need to get our priorities in order by re-committing to the real front line in the war on terror. Just last week NATO Secretary General Scheffer again called for more troops for Afghanistan, saying “more can be done and should be done.” Where allies have pledged troops and economic assistance to Afghanistan, they must follow through. But we must lead by example by sending more troops and more aid to help combat the opium trade, which funds the Taliban and threatens to turn Afghanistan into a narco-state, and ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the United States and our allies, not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.”