Friday, July 07, 2006

Iraq is not a quagmire and might be a good ally some day, but Afghanistan is a stone-aged disaster...

Nomad boys in AfghanistanI have not been checking in with Michael Yon enough recently. If you don't know about Michael, click here for some background and info about how his operation is funded. He's a remarkable man, doing amazing work.

His latest dispatch is called There Be Dragons. It should serve as a wake-up call to all of us back home that while great progress is being made in Iraq, there are some very big problems that seemingly aren't getting addressed adequately in Afghanistan.

Here are the closing comments of the dispatch:
I have spoken with many Special Forces soldiers about Iraq and Afghanistan. Most agree that we are making serious progress in Iraq, but those same Special Forces soldiers say that Afghanistan is a disaster. One soldier had done two tours in Afghanistan, and he said it plainly. “Mike, when we build a schoolhouse in Iraq, the Iraqis make a school out of it and use it to study. When we build a schoolhouse in Afghanistan, an Imam comes in and teaches people to hate us. Building a schoolhouse is not the same as building a school. A schoolhouse is just a building. Iraqis believe in learning and progress. Afghans walk in circles.”

Some months ago, I spoke with a brilliant American leader, Lieutenant General David Petraeus. We spoke for about two hours and I was asking him everything I could think of about Mosul, Iraq. LTG Petraeus said that when he first attacked Mosul, and then started working to get the place back on its feet, the first thing the Iraqis wanted was their security and basic services, but then immediately to get their university working again. This is a giant university with about 35,000 students and 4,000 staff, so LTG Petraeus put his people on it, and together with the students and staff, they got the place working. These are LTG Petraeus’s exact words about getting the university going...
“…a huge effort to get it back in operation, to complete the course work, and then to complete the exams for that year. We, again, were very impressed that they put such high emphasis on education that they did not want to have that school year wasted.”
But Afghanistan… there be dragons.

Michael also points to a recent interview of Pat Dollard on H&C. You should check it out if you haven't seen it already. From Michael:
Pat Dollard, as many people know, is the ex-Hollywood Producer turned independent journalist who launched himself into Iraq at his own expense. Pat spent 7 months shooting video while embedded with our combat troops, now he is back home and he is telling the truth, just as I saw it in Iraq, only with video. Please click here to watch Pat’s interview on Hannity & Colmes.

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