The U.S. Owes Afghans Economic Support and Resettlement

The United States should work with the Afghan government to help young Afghans build a future for themselves in their country. But America's responsibility to them — after 14 years of failing to bring peace and security to Afghanistan — goes beyond that. 

While the U.S. was operating in Afghanistan, it created a parallel public service sector to the Afghan government that was larger and better paid. The U.S. and NATO military and aid programs employed thousands of young Afghans, newly educated in schools the West paid for.

It was obvious from the start that this mode of operation was unsustainable: The Afghan government initially asked that the U.S. work through state institutions so as to be sustainable once the West pulled out of the country. Instead, the U.S. government just hired people to meet immediate needs, with little to no planning for the future of the country.

As a result, the pullout of our troops threw hundreds of thousands of Afghans out of work. These Afghans not only see no prospect for employment now, in a shrinking economy, but they also fear reprisals for having worked with the U.S.

Helping educated Afghans rebuild opportunities in their country would require sustained and effective economic assistance. It would also require continued support for the Afghan National Security Forces and efforts by the Afghan government and its regional partners to achieve a political settlement with the Taliban and other armed groups.

But much as the U.S. must work and hope to create conditions for Afghans to stay and rebuild their country, basic ethics require the U.S. to repay the debt it has incurred — by offering asylum to many of these individuals and their families.

This article was originally published by the New York Times on April 6, 2016

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Apr 06, 2016
Barnett Rubin
South Asia, Afghanistan