WHAT AFGHANS WANT: Connie Duckworth's latest fab blog
June 29 2010
Read Connie's latest blog -- and be sure to go to www.stirblog.org to see the kids playing at the playground Connie is building with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan!
WHAT AFGHANS WANT
Connie K. Duckworth / June 28th, 2010
This week, the press has been in full “scoop” mode. Since I am not a reporter, a talking head, a think tank expert, an academic, a government employee (whether military, political or civil), or even a “vampire squid” (although I did spend 20 years at Goldman Sachs), I am certainly insufficiently credentialed to opine on the military or political strategy of how the U.S. and ISAF are prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.
But I do work on a daily basis, as I have for the past seven years, with real Afghans, doing the best they can to live, work, and raise their families in Afghanistan. These are men and women of different generations. They are rural and urban. They live in different provinces and are different ethnicities.
During the four trips I’ve made to Afghanistan, I’ve met the haves and the have-nots and have talked with Afghans in a variety of venues, from the Presidential Palace to one-room mud-brick houses with dirt floors. I’ve talked with high school girls teaching illiterate women to read and write and to illiterate women working so their children can gain the education they had no chance to acquire. I’ve talked with college graduates with degrees in engineering and medicine. I’ve talked with displaced persons who have returned to rebuild their homes and live from nothing. I’ve talked with Afghan-Americans, raised in the U.S. after the Russian invasion, who chose to return to help Afghanistan rebuild.
In his Rolling Stone article, Michael Hastings asserts, “The very people that COIN seeks to win over—the Afghan people—do not want us there.” While my information is certainly anecdotal, I nonetheless have a point of view, based on what I hear, of what Afghans want. And, I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Hastings.
The topic of what Afghans want gets very little play in the press. So here’s my list:
They want peace.
They want their children to have a better life than they’ve had- the chance for an education, security, and prosperity.
They want the Taliban gone, never to return. (I’ve never heard otherwise from any Afghan I’ve met.)
They want the U.S. and ISAF to stay until Afghanistan can stand on its own feet.
They want an effective government with corrupt officials gone.
They want to see positive impact in their lives from the billions of dollars being spent in Afghanistan.
I arrived in Helmand Province June 8th, the end of the “deadliest 24-hour period this year,” according to The Economist. The other thing I consistently hear from Afghans is that they want me to say thank you to Americans for the sacrifices we are making for them and their country.
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