Compare/Contrast

by Joshua Foust on 6/22/2011 · 1 comment

Alissa J. Rubin, “As U.S. Pulls Back, Fears Abound Over Toll on Afghan Economy,” The New York Times, 22 June 2011:

KABUL, Afghanistan — While President Obama’s announcement of troop reductions is not expected to change much here right away, American and Afghan officials are already worrying about the impact of the eventual withdrawal of international forces on Afghanistan’s struggling economy…

Over the next three years, however, as the American military and civilian presence — and spending — decrease, thousands of jobs will end for Afghans who work at or around bases and under grants and contracts financed by the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.

Afghans and American civilian and military planners fear that the country will fall into an economic abyss, sending some Afghans back into the insurgency and deepening the poverty of people throughout the country.

Joshua Foust, “The looming Afghan crash,” Need to Know on PBS, 17 May 2011:

Withdrawing 70,000 troops from Afghanistan is an enormous undertaking: leaving aside the logistics of moving the people (which really involves packing them onto C-17s and flying them out), there are a host of economic dependencies to consider…

Once the U.S. withdraws its troops and leaves its bases empty, many of these armed Afghan contractors will not have employers, leaving the country awash — yet again — with young, armed unemployed men. Very few people, if any, are making plans for demobilizing these contractors and finding them suitable employment elsewhere.

One can go down that rabbit hole forever. Suffice to say, the economy of Afghanistan is substantially dependent on the U.S. — in the form of military expenditure, but also in aid money. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction tracks both programs and while the numbers are eye-popping (hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year), SIGAR also notes how the military and USAID have a difficult time tracking the effects of the money they spend. We know this money flows into the economy of Afghanistan but we don’t know what effect it really has. As a result, we just don’t know what effect pulling all this expenditure out of Afghanistan will have, either, beyond guesses and estimation.

Anyway, I’m just sayin.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

Jim June 22, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I think you are being a tad bit unfair, for a couple reasons.

First, her article is much more specific than yours, which if nothing else would imply it builds on your work.

Second, I don’t know that it’s actually obvious that it builds on your work (or only on your work), as this theme got a lot of traction (so it’s also odd that you pick on her when a lot of people have written on this subject in the lat couple weeks) in the wake of the Senate report drawing essentially the same conclusion.

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