Post by Amanda Young, American University ’13

Last Tuesday, President Obama unveiled his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan at West Point Military Academy. During his speech he announced plans to deploy 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. These troops will have the task of securing major cities and populations so the United States can then begin turning over responsibility to the Afghan forces in 18 months. Finally, there is a light at the end of an eight year long tunnel that cost millions of dollars and hundreds of American and Afghan lives.

As we draw closer to the end of American military presence in Afghanistan, I have to wonder, was it a success? Only time will tell, but if nothing is done to build and strengthen Afghanistan’s infrastructure you can bet these eight years will have been in vain. History has seen it before with World War I. Germany had a huge debt, lacked infrastructure, and had few to no jobs. In such a climate people turned toward extremism and twenty years after the Treaty of Versailles the world would once again find its self amidst a World War. The United States and her allies may have won World War I, but we did not keep the peace. The same idea lies behind Afghanistan. After decades of war and a poor standard of living the people have looked to the only paying jobs; the drug trade and al Qaeda. We were able to stop this vicious cycle in Europe after World War II by rebuilding Europe, creating infrastructures and jobs with the Marshall Plan. Logic tells us that the same thing needs to be done to ensure successful peace in Afghanistan.

On the White House website there are a few lines on“…implementing a civilian-military agriculture redevelopment strategy to restore Afghanistan’s once vibrant agriculture sector”. The White House must implement plans like this immediately after securing the area, so as to give hope and a future to the Afghan people. It is extremely important that the American public and international community stay active and aware even after all the troops are gone. Only then will Afghanistan continue to grow; ensuring lasting peace and we do not find ourselves fighting the same war again in twenty years.

You can find an in-depth break down of his strategy at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/way-forward-afghanistan and the full transcript of the West Point speech at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-address-nation-way-forward-afghanistan-and-pakistan

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