From Meet the Press this morning:
MR. SEIGENTHALER: Let me turn now to the war on terror and Afghanistan and show you an article from Monday’s LA Times and get your reaction. It said, “U.S. forces have their hands full trying to subdue attacks in Iraq. But with the slow buildup of a national Afghan
army, an inadequate U.S. and coalition presence and poor progress on reconstruction projects, Afghanistan is spiraling out of control and risks becoming a ‘narco-mafia’ state, some humanitarian agencies warn. Already the signs are there a boom in opium production, rampant banditry and huge swaths of territory unsafe for Western aid workers. The central government has almost no power over regional warlords who control roads and extort money from truck drivers, choking commerce and trade. If the country slips into anarchy, it risks becoming a haven for resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. And the point of U.S. military action here could be lost a major setback in the war against terrorism.” Senator, there are reports the Bush administration is considering $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan. Do you think that’s a good idea?
SEN. LUGAR: Yes, it certainly is, and furthermore the assumption of authority by the NATO powers in Afghanistan is a step forward. President Karzai has a five-year budget. He knows where the holes are, and that is the moneys that are needed for policing and need for
infrastructure change so they can have some commerce. There is a good plan, good leadership, but we’re going to have to do much more. Afghanistan cannot be a failed state; otherwise they’ll be an incubator for terrorism, for the al-Qaeda types, just as it was before.
To recycle all of that would be totally unacceptable.
The original LA Times article is now behind a pay-per-view firewall, so I can’t link to it. But think about this: they’re “considering” a billion dollars for Afghanistan, which is to terrorism as stagnant water is to mosquitoes. Meanwhile, we’re spending a billion dollars a friggin’ week in Iraq, a country whose connection to al Qaeda is apparently a figment of Richard Perle’s active imagination. Can you say “misplaced priorities”?
UPDATE: Ah, but I can link to this reprint of the LA Times story, in the Sun, thanks to alert reader Elsa K.