Friday, February 14, 2003

Oops. Guess Bush isn't interested in rebuilding Afghanistan after all.

(Thanks to Atrios for the link)

The United States Congress has stepped in to find nearly $300m in humanitarian and reconstruction funds for Afghanistan after the Bush administration failed to request any money in the latest budget.

One mantra from the Bush administration since it launched its military campaign in Afghanistan 16 months ago has been that the US will not walk away from the Afghan people.

President Bush has even suggested a Marshall plan for the country, and the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, will visit Washington later this month.

Washington has pledged not to forget Afghanistan
But in its budget proposals for 2003, the White House did not explicitly ask for any money to aid humanitarian and reconstruction costs in the impoverished country.

The chairman of the committee that distributes foreign aid, Jim Kolbe, says that when he asked administration officials why they had not requested any funds, he was given no satisfactory explanation, but did get a pledge that it would not happen again.
The International Development Agency said it was due to amount prediction problems; that they didn't know how much they'd need in 2002, when they started working on it. That, um, lacks credibility; I can see "less money", but "no money"? They should have at least had a working amount.

So as the situation in forgotten Afghanistan keeps getting worse and worse outside of U.S. controlled Kabul (however long that lasts), the Bush administration sets its sights on Iraq. This time, however, they're not even pushing PR about reconstruction. As several people on Atrios' message board said, "no wonder the europeans don't want you to bomb Iraq". They know the score.

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