Report by Howard Myers
Our speaker this evening is such a rising star he was a Lt. Colonel when we invited him but was a full Colonel by the time he spoke to us. Congratulations Colonel.
Beginning with the Ghaznavid Empire in 963 AD, COL McGee treated the Forum audience to a brief and illuminating history of Afghanistan.
This history covered a period of being ruled by Kings, emperors and warlords as well as two British incursions. Col. McGee also described the period in the 60’s to early 70’s when there was relative stability and safety, which attracted western tourism. The civil war that started in 1973 encouraged the incursion of the USSR from 1979 – 1989, killed many Afghans and destroyed much of Afghanistan’s infrastructure.
From 1992 – 1996, warlords ruled the country amid much disruption and instability. The Taliban replaced these warlords, and although they provided some stability, they were not popular and presided over a failed state that provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda.
After the initial invasion of Afghanistan by the US in 2003 and the removal of the Taliban, approximately 4 million Afghans returned to their country. By December of 2003 the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan was 13,000, approximately the size of the Los Angeles Police Dept. By May of 2006 the situation had begun to deteriorate while the number of US troops was at 23,500 in a country the size of Texas.
The goals of our efforts in Afghanistan are:
Col. McGee explained that President Karzai gets some bad publicity for apparently not supporting some U.S. positions, but reminds us that President Karzai is elected by the Afghan people and must be seen as a leader of his people; not a puppet of the US.
The surge of troops to almost 100,000 US troops has contributed to the recent spike in violence in Afghanistan; it was both predicted and expected. There is also a sense of optimism in Afghanistan amongst many observers.
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