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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 11:50 GMT
Afghanistan: Should aid take precedence?
The US is not taking the aid effort in Afghanistan seriously enough, according to the UK's International Development Secretary, Clare Short.

She says that breakdowns in communication with the US military are creating problems for aid workers on the ground in Afghanistan.

Agencies, such as the World Food Programme, say that food is getting through, but they are finding it difficult to reach remote areas.

They have called on the United Nations to organise a multi-national force in order to provide stability as soon as possible.

But the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, says it is "unlikely" that US forces will become part of a semi-permanent peacekeeping activity in Afghanistan.

Could the US be doing more to assist the aid effort? Is there a need for foreign peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan to help stabilise the region?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

A UN peacekeeping force needs to be installed to protect food convoys who are currently being robbed by roaming bandits (Taleban? - they don't appear to be staving as the food isn't what they are after). The US is doing exactly what it needs to - focusing on finding bin Laden while at the same time providing the lion's share of humanitarian aid. I don't think anyone in the coalition intends to abandon Afghanistan after al-Qaeda is destroyed. Had the US stayed after the Russian pullout, however, we would have been loudly denounced as "Empire builders". Different time, differently political reality and clearer vision.
Sandy, Seattle, USA

Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis before it is anything else

I Khan, Atlanta, USA
Thanks to US, Russia, Pakistan and Iran playing with Afghanistan in the past, the humanitarian crisis faced by Afghanis is the worst of its kind ever. Foreign aid must take precedence. Afghanistan is a humanitarian crisis before it is anything else. But more important is the fact that the foreign aid "must" reach the people of Afghanistan rather than the pockets of the middlemen involved. I know for a fact that people became millionaires in Pakistan by reselling some of it in the past.
I Khan, Atlanta, USA

Absolutely the U.S. should be POURING humanitarian assistance into Afghanistan. For someone who fought as an infantryman in Vietnam, where there were no cheering crowds waving and smiling at "liberation", I say, that is one experience our military forces NEED to not only experience, but share with those who follow. My Dad and all his brothers, uncles, aunts were ALL in WW II. Those who fought in Europe or the Philippines said it was wonderful to have cheering crowds of "liberated" people.

We (the U.S.) need to move quickly and forcefully to assist humanitarian food columns reach their intended targets, without bandits taking over the food items. These food items need to be given to the poor. Same for shelter, radios, blankets, additional clothing, cookware, whatever might be needed. These issues are as much a part of the U.S. military campaign as are the laser designation teams. Give them some funds to help with this rehabilitation effort. Give them some "ownership" of these efforts. Help them regain THEIR Afghanistan. The United States has plenty of people who hate our guts. We need to also show the world another part of the true American personality - generosity, kindness, compassion.
Jerry, Yellow Springs, OH,USA

I think that the rest of the world has taken the US completely for granted. All of the demands and criticisms I read on these pages are contradictory and childish. You want our money, but don't want to give us even the right to defend ourselves. Half of the voices insist that the US owes the world democracy, the other half that we must stop being imperialistic. You insist that we correct mistakes made by every other government, but that we should have no say in how our money is spent. "Give us your money and then leave us alone", is what I hear. I hear this sense of entitlement and ingratitude. Well guess what, that is my money that you want to spend and I resent very much those demanding and ungrateful voices. I work hard for what I earn, I went to school, and I am struggling to figure out a way to afford to have children and pay my bills at the same time (it is called being responsible). I personally have never done anything to cause the world's ills, prejudice, or the cruelty that you want my money to fix.

Here is another clue, the US cannot give another nation wealth. Our wealth is not a fixed entity, but the result of principles and ideas (oh yes the horrible, capitalism). Our wealth is generated by the notion that property and liberty cannot be separated. You cannot in essence say, "you will work and sweat so that others can eat", because this principle goes also by the name of slavery. Until countries are willing to accept these basic principles of property, liberty, government, they will not develop fully.
Mona Young, USA

I simply ask them to look at the facts, ALL the facts, for a change

Mike, Md, USA
Quite a few of the respondents are still U.S. bashing. The U.S.A, prior to Sept.11 was the largest source of aid to Afghanistan on the planet. It is funny, in a disturbing way, to here all the condemnation from countries(and people) who never gave 2 cents or 2 seconds thought to the Afghan plight. The aid that we (the US) are dropping in Taleban controlled areas is be horded by the Taleban. There is no way humanly possible to effectively aid the people there without first eliminating the problem. I write from personal experience when I say that the people here are very concerned with Afghan misery, but we did not create it.

I think that any human being with realistic views will see the current military operations as the best thing that has ever happened (ultimately) to Afghanistan as a country. 10 years from now the U.N. led reconstruction will transform the population centers of that country. There is a great deal of unpublished concern for that here in the states. The building of Afghanistan (I can't say rebuilding because it was already destroyed) will be a worldwide contribution. The people of Afghanistan should decide what manner of government they want. The basic function of our society here is so deeply ingrained with that reality that assumptions to the contrary are absurd. I would like to ask your US attackers where there were at when US forces were dying in Chechnya to protect Muslims, where they were at in Somalia. Sitting back hating the USA I simply ask them to look at the facts, ALL the facts, for a change.
Mike, Md, USA

When you hear talk about getting the "evildoers," do not forget that George Bush would NOT have sent bombers to stop the mass murder of Kosovars. He made it clear in the presidential debates that U.S. interests would have to be at stake before sending in troops. Bill Clinton had far more true moral authority than this guy.
Marque, USA

Aid needs to take a higher priority. That doesn't mean that the pursuit against Bin Laden needs to be diminished, nor that US troops need to be deployed on the ground. It requires the US administration to have a greater vision. That the US already contributes a significant amount of food through various aid agencies is positive, what seems to be missing is co-ordination and co-operation. Success against Bin Laden will be undermined, if as seems quite possible, the US is left in many Afghans eyes as the bad guy, blamed for hunger and starvation through the failure to deliver aid adequately.
Barry b, UK

The West is rich. It is our responsibility to feed the poor

Carolyne, Aldershot, Hants
Those who think we shouldn't prioritise food aid: just think for a moment how you would feel if you had to watch your mother, father, son or daughter starve to death in front of your eyes just for the want of an aid truck getting to your village. According to aid agencies this war has exacerbated the humanitarian crisis. Bombing and anarchy on the ground have prevented trucks reaching remote areas. The people of Afghanistan did not vote for the Taleban or the Northern Alliance, and yet the West is compounding their suffering. The West is rich. It is our responsibility to feed the poor.
Carolyne, Aldershot, Hants

Clare Short is very right. US should take the lead for the aid effort to Afghanistan because the US bombings have increased the number of Afghan refugees by another million. US ground troops can keep searching for Osama Bin Laden at the same time. The US ego will very much be damaged if Osama is never found but that can't take precedence over a humanitarian crisis.
Ratna Sengupta, MD, USA

Why aren't the UN in the country yet? It is their job to deal with peacekeeping and humanitarian crises, but as in Rwanda, Serbia and so many other places the UN has failed yet again. Alternatively, let the US continue prosecuting the war against terrorism whilst others deal with aid. Where is the EU? Where are the oil-rich Muslim nations? Hanging back, leaving the US to deal with it all as per usual. Then they complain about the US trying to run the world!
K Wilson, Australia

Their poverty wasn't created by this war

Michael, London, UK
Had America decided not to wage their war on terrorism, the Afghan people would still have ended up starving this winter. Their poverty wasn't created by this war. It was created by the brutal policies of the Taleban 'government'. The US is arguably the significant donor of aid to this country. Maybe some aid responsibility should be taken on board by the Islamic countries around the world that have so vocally shown their support for their Muslim 'brothers'. They're ominously silent right now, aren't they...
Michael, London, UK

Osama Bin Laden is the main priority. End of story.
Robert, Australia

I am not surprised that the hand-wringing leftists and intellectuals, obviously out of their educational depth in the art of war, continue to take the coalition and the United States in particular, to task for this conflict. Reading those who want military action stopped prior to effective completion so that war criminals in Afghanistan and their supporters can be fed, is preposterous.
Tom, Chicago, USA

The American government's sole aim was to capture Osama Bin Laden and remove the Taleban from power. Reconstructing or rebuilding Afghanistan is no concern of America though it pays lip service to do so. The greatest service the US can do to Afghanistan and to the world is by changing its foreign policies and not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. The US, the West and rich Islamic nations have the moral responsibility of helping Afghans and rebuilding Afghanistan.
Albert P'Rayan, Kigali, Rwanda

Let's now start the process of reconciliation

Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE
The taleban has been routed, well at least for the time being. The American military might has been successful in dislodging the Taleban and returning the northern alliance to temporary power. But the Americans now have a moral duty to ensure they are as active and generous in pouring aid into Afghanistan as they have been in their bombardment of the taleban and the so called terrorist. Let's now start the process of reconciliation. Peace keeping troops under the UN in Kabul is a definite requirement as is the demilitarization of Kabul. The Afghanis deserved some peace. They have been punished enough considering the majority of them had practically no say in the political arena. The US and Western powers should remember that too hard a punishment is mischief ,for all punishment in itself is evil.
Arif Sayed, Dubai,UAE

Of course aid should take precedence. Bush said "our cause is just" - by this he meant "we're the good guys". But do good guys knowingly cause humanitarian disasters? Hmmm...
Jonathan, Surrey, UK

Since about 24 years of war in Afghanistan, the Afghans are getting help of outside world. The former communist countries, headed by the Soviet Union, helped the former government and the anti Soviet alliance, headed by the USA, helped the mujahideen. The consequence is that the Afghans lost every thing and are playing now with explosives. I don't know how long these people will continue to do begging. Why the international community doesn't think about investments in Afghanistan to create jobs and work opportunities for the Afghan people? Now the US can keep the eyes on Osama. As soon as the Afghans stand on there own feet, they will tie the hands of Osama and will hand it over to the US.
Zarak Khan, Afghanistan

Were it not for the dreaded Yanks, they'd never be able to express their questionable views

Paul, London, UK
To all those people still going on about this war being all about an oil pipeline - move on please, you're boring us. The way things stand on aid is the US is damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they give aid and try and sort out Afghanistan's problems, they'll be accused of nation-building, imperialism and forgetting their main aim: destroying Osama and his pals. If they carry out this aim, they'll be accused of callousness and of having no regard for Afghanistan's welfare. As things stand, they are doing a mixture of aid and action, and it should continue like this. The USA is the only country in the world with the means and will to defend democracy from all attackers, and the doubters should do well to remember that. Were it not for the dreaded Yanks, they'd never be able to express their questionable views.
Paul, London, UK

It is obvious that the US and the US-allied nations needed not to start bombing in Afghanistan. They could have caught Bin Laden by other means than military campaign, bombing, to take him to the international court to investigate and judge if he really involved in the incident, the tragedy, on Sept. 11. But once the US and the US allied nations started the war and smashed the Afghan people's land and life, the aid and reconstruction of their country are the US and the US allied nations' responsibility, at least. Bombing should be stopped immediately. Yes, the aid should take precedence.
Mariko Ozu, Tokyo, Japan

The cause of this conflict was Bin Laden's cold, cruel and inhuman attacks on America. The first priority of the U.S. must be to wipe out the terrorists and their sponsors. Only when the Taleban have been eliminated can the U.S. give the humanitarian part of the mission the attention that it needs.
Jeff, U.S.A.

I do not think the Americans care too much for Afghans; their only intention is to catch the so-called culprit for the September 11 event, even if it means levelling all of Afghanistan. It resembles what the Israelis did to Beirut and now Palestine Cities. I have never seen American hypocrisy at its best, i.e. drop bombs and food aid, with same label colors. I feel sorry for myself having admired America for so long.
Momtaz Ahmad, Penang, Malaysia

More and more it becomes apparent that they are not interested whatsoever in helping the country to get to it's feet

Eric, Netherlands
In the beginning of the Afghan campaign, the United States said they wouldn't turn their back on Afghanistan as was their policy in the past when an "intervention" was carried out. But it seems once again that the American leadership is not quite true to their words, because more and more it becomes apparent that they are not interested whatsoever in helping the country to get to it's feet when they will have defeated the Taleban, and leave it's population behind. It seems to me that the allies are good enough to clean up the mess.
Eric, Netherlands

Why is there so much anti-American diatribe on this page? Priority 1 must be to win the war. Otherwise, aid cannot be guaranteed to reach its intended recipients. Priority 2 is to establish a stable government, with whom the rest of the world can enjoy dialogue and co-operation. Priority 3 should be the long-term lesson from the majority of peace loving people that terrorism has no place in this world. The US did not start this war - we owe it to the US and to ourselves to make sure that we end it.
Steve Cahill, Sandy, England

Let's not put the wagon before the horse!

Sandman, Los Angeles, CA
Let's not put the wagon before the horse! Prior to the recent conflict in Afghanistan, the US was the largest donor of aid to the Afghan people. On October 4, George Bush increased aid by $320 million. Thus far, the US has supplied more than 80% of all food aid for vulnerable Afghans through the World Food Program. A shipment of 10,000 metric tons of food has been loaded on a ship that has recently left Louisiana and should reach Pakistan and Iran by December 20. The ship contains food items such as corn, wheat, soybean flour, vegetable oil and lentils. The US is also purchasing foods from the region surrounding Afghanistan. The food will either go through Pakistan or will be unloaded in Iran's ports to be shipped via train to Tajikistan and Uzebekistan. The battle of Kunduz is important because this is the land route the food will pass through.

The issue is not about the amount of aid, because the US will be the largest donor, but about how to secure the transportation of the aid while there is still battles raging. The Northern Alliance is sceptical when armed US and UK soldiers are placed in Afghanistan to provide protection for convoys of food aid. They are afraid that these men are there to control what the Northern Alliance feels is their rightful place in regards to a new Afghan government. Furthermore, the troops the US has in the region are special forces and are on the mission of destroying Osama bin Laden and the terrorist network. They are not peacekeeping troops. The mission has yet to be completed. There are still many dangers as evidenced by the recent tragic deaths of 7 journalists. It is understood that aid must be provided, but we also have to ensure that this aid will have a relatively safe environment in which to work and to guarantee it will reach the people in desperate need.

For those who think this entire effort is about an oil pipeline, has any of you heard Osama bin Laden or the Taleban state this claim? This conflict is about Islamic fundamentalism and the fact that Afghanistan has been turned into a "base" for terrorist training and operations. Period!
Sandman, Los Angeles, CA

This does make for an interesting read. America has been putting its size 11s into Afghanistan since the cold war and then turns and says the situation is nothing to do with them. Then we have people like Bill Douglass, USA who says that the Taleban declared war on the US. Funny that, I thought it was Osama bin Laden, a man who has been increasingly sidelined in this war debate.

As far as I can see the Afghan people had an extreme government forced on them, a government that stubbornly and stupidly sheltered a terrorist, a terrorist who declared war on the US. Added to that they have had outside forces interfering in their affairs for decades leaving them in a chronic 'war torn' state. All the while, America and the UK have hid behind the fašade of a moral quest to liberate the Afghanistan people from a corrupt government - if they mean this now is the time to act.
Wendy, UK

The government of Afghanistan (aka The Taleban) has declared war on the United States. The USA has every right to defend itself. We are not in Afghanistan for humitarian reasons, nor are we obligated to rebuild their pathetic war torn country. Our primary purpose is to destroy our enemy. After our objectives are completed, we may and will probably elect to return to our position as the top provider of humanitarian aid to that country.
Bill Douglass, USA

Without the war, the Afghan people would all be starving this winter

Tony, England
The irony of the Aid situation is that I don't see the countries in the 'muslim brotherhood' with their multi billion dollars of oil money pouring aid in! I am sick of hearing the anti-war whingers on this site; without the war, the Afghan people would ALL be starving this winter, the unwillingness of the Taliban to run their country properly is the main cause of the humanitarian crisis, 4 million were starving in camps before Sept 11th. Of course, the Taliban themselves would not be starving, they have a sound track record of plundering aid sent to the country. It's unfortunate that a few thousand have to die to save millions, but that's life.
Tony, England

There can be no real peace in Afghanistan until Osama Bin Laden is arrested and put in jail. No matter what anybody does...the ultimate solution has to include the capture of this criminal, and any of his partners in international crime.
Dave Adams, Chicago/USA

If people starve to death as a result of US intervention, the US will be partly responsible for this. Quite apart from moral issues, it's in the interests of the US to prevent this, otherwise it will only encourage future Bin Ladens to do the same thing.
CNS, Durham, England

To the West: This is one of those defining moments. Your decision will have far reaching consequences. It is convenient to say that Afghans are responsible for their current plight. That is not the entire truth, The common Afghans are a victim of the cold war and they continue to suffer. The coalition partners of today fought each other in this land and left this country to the many ethnic armies they had created. You have another chance, make amends and make your children proud.
Naveed Kamal, Pakistan

Although aid is important, there is little point in trying to provide any until the Taleban are elinated. Up to now they have stolen or destroyed nearly all the aid sent to Afghanistan. Get the refugees out of Taleban reach into other countries and help them there. Once a real government is established in Afghanistan, Europe should certainly supply aid, as it is an effective anti-terror measure.
Fatimah Begum, London UK

We have soldiers ready to go in and enforce peace and we are being prevented from doing so. Why?

Dan, UK
I am ashamed to read comments by both UK and US contributers who are too willing to devestate Afganistan and then wash their hands of the consequences. As has been pointed out a number of times this was an attack on the civilised world - Why should it then fall to the Americans to make all the decisions? I have up until now been behind the campaign like a large number of UK citizens, but we have soldiers ready to go in and enforce peace and we are being prevented from doing so. Why? Our boys aren't afraid to do what's right...
Dan, Doncaster, UK

The purpose and the main mission of the US led attack on Afghanistan was purely military and should not be construed as otherwise. The humanitarian catastrophy in Afghanistan is not of American making, because the refugees were there prior to September 11 attack on the US. The aid to the many hungry was to take place simultaneously but not at the expense of the original objective - namely elimination of an evil and senile regime that has shamelessly decided to harbour the murderer Osama Bin Laden without remorse. The Taliban has impoverished the citizens of Afganistan and no excuse can justify their callous behavior. Americans have a just course and they are doing what took them to Afganistan. Of course the needy Afganis need immediate assistance without the world being blind to the atrocities committed by the Taliban against fellow Afgans. As for Osama can any one ask him what Kenyans did to him to deserve the maiming and the carnage that he visited on our country?
Odiedo Wuod Akatch, Mombasa Kenya

It is clear that people are beginning to lose perspective on the Afghan question. The primary objectives of the anti-terror coalition's forces in the region is to hunt down al-Qaeda's leaders and to disrupt, diminish and destoy thier ability to operate. Aid for the people in Afghanistan was, and always will be, a secondary objective.
Matt Brown, Glasgow, Scotland

Quality long term aid requires strategy to make it effective

No Aid should not take Precedence, removal of terrorist networks and oppression comes first, then the proper motions towards agreement of the division of power (i.e. starting to set up some kind of real government/leadership), and only then should maximum aid be deployed to help this poor country rebuild itself (It was no utopia under the Taleban). The war has certainly done Afghanistan no short term favours, but the ultimate goal of installing an educated forward thinking ruling force should see any rebuilding of the country as a move towards improved prosperity for it's citizens. Quality long term aid requires strategy to make it effective!

I've always believed that the US is not after justice, only revenge. This proves it. Having rode roughshod over this devastated country, killing and maiming innocents on the way, they're going to find their villain, kill him and get the hell out, leaving others to clean up after them. The US may bleat that it is the biggest contributor to international aid, but what it doesn't say is that it has the lowest contribution per head of population of any country in the world. Blair was a fool to follow Bush slavishly, now hopefully he will listen to the ministers and people of Britain, and get some aid to these poor civilians before Bush creates a disaster on a scale which will dwarf even the September 11 atrocity.
Simon Deay, UK

Afghanistan should be flooded with aid. The people there should see the immediate benefits of life without the Taliban. If conditions get worse then it will have all been a waste of time and money, not to mention the lives of hundreds of civilians. It is important to remember that the hijackers on the planes in America were not from Afghanistan, so it's people should not suffer for the crimes of others. American troops should stay out of the country, they have no record of humanitarian aid - only of failed invasions.
Peter Robinson, Southport, England

I don't see that America is serious about humanitarian aid

Agha, London, UK
I don't see that America is serious about humanitarian aid. The purpose of attacking Afghanistan is purely revenge, nothing else. Otherwise what has been done to help the refugees? America has made her people happy that they have taken revenge and has left the Northern Alliance to do whatever they want.
Agha, London, UK

Aid should really start in earnest now. Whereas America has already dropped a derisory amount of aid on Afghanistan, the vast amount of aid that's needed should really be expedited. Furthermore, it should cease to be transported in those nasty yellow containers. Why? Because cluster bombs and other ordinance also have the same yellow plastic wrapping, thereby causing children and other people desperate for aid to wrongly pick up the unexploded bombs and not the aid. Was this deliberate? Who knows, but it's a policy that should nonetheless cease forthwith.
John McVey, Scotland

The Taleban and al-Qaeda are still active and until such time that they are totally destroyed the US must continue to seek and terminate them wherever and whenever. I don't see any Islamic country giving aid to Afghanistan or indeed taking part in looking after the waves of refugees. Their silence is deafening.
S Allen, Leipzig, Germany

In financial terms how much weaponry have the US dropped on the Afghans? Compare that to the cost of the "aid packages". Now tell me which takes precedent as far as the Americans are concerned. The notion that the US cares about the starving Afghan innocents is a sick joke.

As was the case before, we should open the doors to provide aid to the Afghan people because it is the right thing to do, and there should be no political agenda behind it. However, I think the priority for the US is to defend our people first by destroying the Taleban and al-Qaeda. Let the UN foot the bill for the aid, we have spent enough in the past 10 years on it and our efforts now are enough of a drain on the tax payers' money. As we saw in Somalia, it would be a grave mistake for our military forces to try and do the job of the UN for peacekeeping and aid. I think that it is more the responsibility of Islamic countries to provide aid. I feel that the criticism of our country is unfounded and that many Muslim countries should practice what they preach.
Jim, Hoboken, USA

Actually Jim from Hoboken, the USA owes the UN vast amounts of unpaid dues. Maybe if the USA settled its debts the UN could pass the monies on to Afghanistan. That would be nicely circular.
Edward, UK

Getting Bin Laden and his network is more important to the US than giving real aid to Afghanistan

T Skinner, Germany
Getting Bin Laden and his network is more important to the US than giving real aid to Afghanistan. It gives the US a good excuse to kill as many Taleban as possible, all under the guise of getting rid of the terrorists. Actually, the US really wants to lay a pipeline from the central Asian countries' oilfields across Afghanistan to exit somewhere on the Indian Ocean. The Taleban would never agree to that so they had to go. Now we shall see the next Afghan government, the Uzbeks and others softened up with all sorts of goodies, to create the proper political atmosphere for that pipeline. The US will claim that the pipe line will bring many jobs to that ravaged area and it will all sound so good and convincing. Watch this space.
T Skinner, Germany

The object of our dirty deeds in Afghanistan is to show the world that the USA is not above mass assassination if provoked by it, and that they are not particular about upon whom retribution is exacted. Handing out bombs in a bunch of flowers is just hypocritical. I wanted Dubya elected because he promised not to start wars to spread the American way of life, but what he has been provoked into doing is no better.
David de Vere Webb, Washington, England

In the present scenario, I think the US is more concerned in getting Osama Bin Laden rather than doing more to assist the aid-effort.
Afaq Ahmed Sheikh, Islamabad, Pakistan

Now is not the time for major aid operations as there are still ambushes and blocked routes

Richard, UK
Now is not the time for major aid operations as there are still ambushes and blocked routes and the supplies can too easily end up in Taleban hands. By all means concentrate on the newly liberated areas, but the bombing of Taleban positions and the capture and elimination of Bin Laden has to come first. Otherwise what has it been about?
Richard, UK

Ms Short's behaviour makes her criticism of America a self-fulfilling prophecy. Her words were designed to cause conflict, instead of agreement. The only thing she is feeling in her heart is delight at an opportunity to advance her public exposure.
Scott Myatt, New Braunfels, Texas, USA

It is the responsibility of the west to enhance aid efforts. Because it is the western powers who are using Afghanistan for their own purpose. In the early 1990s, western powers left Afghans in disarray after successfully using them against the former Soviet Union. The work of reconstruction and rebuilding of destroyed Afghanistan must start at once. The west has destroyed Afghanistan for the sake of one suspect. The loss of innocent lives is irreparable but reconstruction and rebuilding can be done immediately.
Zafar Qaim Khani, Islamabad, Pakistan

Europe must do more to help the poor citizens of Afghanistan. If we do this, perhaps the Americans will follow our lead.
Tim Kuhnert, Darmstadt, Germany

Aid should be supplied to regions that are safe and not under Taleban control. Rebuilding Afghanistan cannot begin until the Taleban and terrorists are eliminated.
JJK, Alaska, USA

I believe the US and its allies have a good record of providing aid to a war-torn population

Tim, Harrisburg, USA
We need to win the war, eliminate the terrorists and provide aid to the innocent in Afghanistan all at the same time. Seems to me that is what we are doing. I believe the US and its allies have a good record of providing aid to a war-torn population. The Berlin airlift is an excellent example. Clare Short is too quick to judge and offers very little in return.
Tim, Harrisburg, USA

No Tim, it's not Europe that has to take the leadership in helping the Afghans. It's the Americans, whose arrogance "gave them permission" to act as if they're the only ones on this planet. I know the Afghans suffer and they have been suffering for many years now, but the ones who wanted to "play" war have to face the consequences now.
Maria, UK

Afghanistan was more than willing to welcome all the foreign Mujahideen when fighting against Russia. America was more than willing to provide arms and supplies to these Mujahideens during that war. Now we ask ourselves whether America has any moral obligation to provide aid! Not only has America and the whole world a moral obligation to provide aid, it also has an obligation not to deal with corrupt governments and ensure that aid reaches its appropriate destination. After all, the majority of these terrorists are bred as a result of poverty, ignorance and hunger.
Tarik, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The US may have destroyed the Taleban as a military force but have they removed the hostility with the politics and terror that it breeds? Without a new approach, nothing will be achieved in the long run. We should be looking at social and political reconstruction - with aid at its heart - sooner rather than later. Demonstrating that the West can be a good ally is as important as showing that it can be a fearsome enemy.
David Poulet, Newcastle, UK

The aid has to go hand in hand with the conquest

Javier, Singapore
The aid has to go hand in hand with the conquest. Which means to say, once you win over the territory, bring in the aid. How long can you bear to endure the day by day pain of starvation and cold winter? The shorter the lag between aid and conquest, the greater the success of the mission to hunt down. Osama Bin Laden.
Javier, Singapore

To Natassia Khan. Those Chechen, Pakistani and Saudi 'extremists' helped liberate Afghanistan from the Russians and are citizens of that country just like you are of Britain. If you are British then they are also Afghan. The foreign Taliban as they are now called were in fact the foreign mujahideen who never participated in the civil war or took up arms against the Afghan mujahideen. Now they are fighting alongside the Taliban because the Northern Alliance stands for tribalism, feudalism, communism and is totally unislamic.

The Pashtun Taleban are to blame for mixing Islam with Afghanistan's medieval traditions and culture which came from none other than the tyrant Ghengis Khan. According to the media, before the 9/11 attacks the Taleban were implementing a strict form of Sharia law, now they are implementing an evil law - how does that work? The Taleban are a product of a wretched country that knows nothing else but spilling blood; the foreigners had nothing to do with that.
Yasser Ajaz, United Kingdom, London

Yasser Ajaz, you have no clue what you're saying. Those foreign terrorists were brought by al-Qaeda and Bin Laden, less than a quarter of them took part against the soviets. They have destroyed Afghanistan more than help recover it. They are not Afghan citizens. These foreigners - Chechens, Pakistanis, Arabs - are the ones who have encouraged the growth of the Taleban. The people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with breeding this regime, it is mainly the cause of Pakistan and Pakistani ISI support, plus Bin Laden's funding.
SA, Canada

It's important both to provide huge amounts of aid and development funding over the next few decades AND to get rid of the foreign extremists who have done so much to destroy that country. Unless the extremists are removed, Afghanistan is doomed to replay its history over and over. The West needs to help Afghan civilians, eradicate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and turn its attention next to the countries from which the non-Afghan extremists are streaming: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya. Afghanistan is paying the price for a wholly evil religious movement that originates elsewhere.
Natassia Khan, UK

People were starving in Afghanistan before September 11th but there was never any call for us to intervene so why would we suddenly start now?

Pete Whitehead, London, UK
Clare Short and the government of which she is part have completely lost sight of what the military intervention in Afghanistan is about. It is neither a humanitarian nor a peacekeeping mission. The objective is to destroy Al-Qaeda and those who harbour them - anything else is a side issue. People were starving in Afghanistan before September 11th but there was never any call for us to intervene so why would we suddenly start now? Do the job we are there for and then get out and move onto Iraq. For once I thank God that it is the Americans running this show and not the idiots at the Foreign Office.
Pete Whitehead, London, UK

Win the war, sort out the political peace and then concentrate on aid.
Alan Baldwin, England

The US turned its back on Afghanistan once before and look what happened. Will they never learn?
Mick, UK

By all means provide short-term aid to the innocent civilians of Afghanistan but let's leave it at that

Sean Gibson, London, UK
Why should the US be getting involved long term in Afghanistan? They have probably learnt lessons from Palestine and decided not to touch the country with a barge pole. The Americans would get it all wrong anyhow and end up supplying arms to a country that would then turn them back on the suppliers. Yes by all means provide short-term aid to the innocent civilians of Afghanistan but let's leave it at that. It's not our country and not our problem.
Sean Gibson, London, UK

The comment from Sean Gibson is beyond belief. How can he say it is not our country, not our problem ? If the situation in Afghanistan is ugly today, it is not because the people of Afghanistan are ugly. Afghanistan is not only the mirror of the Afghans it is the mirror of the world.

The murder of 5,000 people in America was avoidable. If the western world reacted to the situation in Afghanistan in 1997,98,99 0r 2000 - the attacker of September 11th would have been denied an ability to terrorise the Afghans and the world. If there is one thing we owe the victims of September 11th and innocent Afghan civilians it is that the desperate plight of people will not be ignored by the world.
Seyum, London, UK

Of course it should! This is something that should have been done many years ago by the West. To rebuild a country they left to ruin for decades is a tremendous crime. After the US versus USSR debacle, which saw Afghanistan as ultimately paying the price, the USA especially - along with allies - has a duty and obligation to help rebuild this shattered country. Not only to make amends for past lack of action, but also to help prevent any further support for terrorism in that country.

A well fed, educated and content people are far less likely to be swayed by the manipulations of terrorists. I just hope this time the West keeps its promises and delivers... and it isn't just some huge publicity stunt to be forgotten about once Joe Public's misgivings about the war have been appeased.
Michelle, UK

It is the West's moral responsibility as well as legal obligation to rebuild Afghanistan

Charlie Hundal, UK
When you bomb an already ravaged country, its your responsibility to make sure that you set things right as well - otherwise how can you justify doing all this? The Western world has obliterated the Taleban as well as numerous ordinary, poor and unfortunate Afghans. It is the West's moral responsibility as well as legal obligation to rebuild Afgahnistan
Charlie Hundal, Leeds UK

The primary goal is the capture of Osama bin Laden and the removal of the government that supports him. Until this goal has been achieved humanitarian aid must necessarily take second place. In a country where heroin seems to be the main crop one wonders how it was able to feed 20 million people in the past.
Victor D, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

The people of Afghanistan are more important than Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaida. The US, being the most powerful country, should be more confident in its pursuit of Osama and priority should be given to feed the hungry people of Afghanistan. It is also more important strategically, as people with full stomachs may try to think towards ending the war and helping the United States to find the most prized man: Osama Bin Laden.
Habib Hemani, San Francisco, USA

See also:

21 Nov 01 | UK Politics
US-UK tensions over aid effort
20 Nov 01 | UK Politics
US 'turning its back' on poverty
20 Nov 01 | Americas
Allies 'split': Fact or fiction?
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
US asks 'What next?' in Afghanistan

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