The Other Wars
News from Home and Afghanistan
While news of the war in Iraq has saturated U.S. media, other wars
have been progressing unnoticed. The following two reports -- too
important to relegate to Cybervoices -- reveal what's happened while our
attention has been directed elsewhere. They're long, but worth reading.
Poverty doctor David Hilfiker has been monitoring the Bush
administration's erosion of domestic social programs and records his
findings in TomDispatch:
The Stealth Assault on the Poor
By Dr. David Hilfiker
The preparation for the United States' attack on Iraq must have been
the most public in history. In contrast, the Bush Administration's stealth
attack on the poor has gone almost unnoticed. There has been no "shock and
awe," no massing of the troops, no nightly commentaries. Indeed, the
attack on the poor is camouflaged in "minor" regulatory changes, routine
reauthorizations, "voluntary" block grants, budgetary complexities and
other arcana, almost as if our eyes were supposed to glaze over before we
really understood. Place the many pieces on the table together, however,
and the breadth and the depth of the attack become startling.
The number of well-functioning programs with bipartisan support that
the Administration proposes tinkering with is breathtaking … a little sand
in the gears here, some water in the gas tank there. Head Start, the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the school lunch and school breakfast
programs, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF),
successful housing programs, child care, and other programs are all lined
up for changes. In most cases, however, understanding how the proposed
changes will actually affect the poor requires more than a cursory look at
each program and each proposed change.
Bear with me. The devil is in the details....
What about the war we left behind? Pakistani journalist Sohail Abdul
Nasir files this report in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:
By Sohail Abdul Nasir
Americans like to think the war in Afghanistan is over, but that would be
a serious mistake.
One might conclude that Hamid Karzai, the interim head of the Afghan
government, is doing well. Foreign dignitaries visit frequently, relief
work is going on, and streetlights have been installed in Kabul by a
German firm. The Japanese are constructing apartment buildings, and the
Afghan national army is in the process of being constituted. The Taliban–Al
Qaeda network has been broken; its leaders vanished. Nearly 18 months
after September 11, Afghanistan could be said to be sailing along.
But there is another side to this picture: Karzai just narrowly escaped
an assassination attempt last September; Vice President Haji Abdul Qadir,
a prominent Pashtun leader, was killed on July 6, 2002, by unknown
assailants; and Aviation Minister Haji Abd-ur-Rehaman was killed on
February 14, 2002, by angry pilgrims whose plans to fly to Mecca were
crushed when no flight was available. Outside the capital, the rule of
warlords prevails. In the countryside, poppy cultivation has not only
resumed, production is approaching historic highs, and quality heroin is
now being supplied to Europe and America from newly established factories
in different parts of Afghanistan. Hit-and-run attacks on U.S. troops,
military installations, and airbases are a daily routine. Above all,
despite all the political help he has received from the international
community, President Karzai has not been able to extend the government’s
reach much beyond Kabul....