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Rebuilding Afghanistan
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Well, I made it back in one piece, loaded up with foodstuffs from the local Tom Thumb.

On the way there and back I listened to a good chunk of the Diane Rehm show on NPR. She was talking to Ishaq Shahryr, Afghanistan's Ambassador to the United States, and the conversation went very close to this:

Rehm: How much money do you think it will take to rebuild Afghanistan?

Shahryr: It's difficult to say, but $4.5 billion will not be enough.

Rehm: That's how much the U.S. has promised?

Shahryr: No, the international community.

Rehm: And none of that money has been delivered?

Shahryr: No, I'm not saying that. The U.S. has fulfilled its promises so far, while other countries that promised funds have not.

Rehm: What are those other countries?

Shahryr: Japan and the European countries. But the U.S. gave $850 million last year, with over $3 billion budgeted for Afghanistan over the next few years.

Hamid Karzai, the interim president of Afghanistan, is in Washington this week to meet with President Bush. Last year he attended an aid conference in Japan, where, according to the BBC:

About $4.5bn in aid over five years was pledged at a donors' conference in Tokyo in January, after the Taliban were bombed out of power by US-led forces.

Overall, the UN requested $1.8bn for Afghanistan between October 2001 and December 2002 but only $870m had been paid, Mr Fisher said.

You do the math. Although its possible that someone's got their numbers wrong. But it certainly sounds like the U.S. is giving the bulk of the aid, what it has promised to Afghanistan, while the rest of the international community is utterly failing to live up to its commitments.

Russia, China, Japan, and many European countries promised money to help rebuild Afghanistan last year, and according to the Afghan ambassador, the U.S. is the only country that has lived up to its pledge. Where the hell is the criticism of these countries?

These countries should be ashamed. It's pathetic, especially when a country like Iran has done more toward reconstruction than any other nation in Asia or the Middle East.

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