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Afghan Refugees get relief, thanks to you

Posted by robertgreenwald on October 15th, 2009

This summer, Brave New Foundation supporters did something extraordinary: in response to one of our videos, you gave $15,000 to Afghan refugees in need of food and blankets.

Recently we received video footage of the provisions purchased with that money being distributed in an Afghan refugee camp. We thought it was worth sharing with you.

Your support showed Afghan civilians the best of the American spirit. It is through acts like these, not through bombing villages, that we can improve the conditions of life for the Afghan people. And by chiseling away at anti-American sentiment in the region, it is through acts like these that we can improve our own security.

America can do more for the Afghan people and for ourselves through generosity and compassion than through violence. We’ve made an impact on one group of refugees, but it will take a change of policy to help all of Afghan society. Congress needs to act, and it can start by holding hearings on civilian alternatives to the failed military approach to Afghanistan.

Sign our petition. When we reach 100,000 names, we will bring it to the Capitol and demand that hearings be held on alternatives to war.

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to “Afghan Refugees get relief, thanks to you”

  1. MrsJefferson says:

    We are a country full of Christians who have no compassion for others? Whose god do they worship? It is one universal god is it not?

    We attacked them for reasons which we now found out were lies. They never attacked us. Why should be punish them for a few who may have done us harm? The rest are innocent.

    People are not disposable items for profit. If they can be destroyed like this then we can be also. Those who never served in the military or suffered this type of chaos make decisions. It is just plain evil.

  2. judith smith says:

    Alternatives to war should always be a top agenda item of our elected leaders in Congress. It is time to get our troops out of harms way and instead put our money to help those who so desperately need our help.

  3. Ken Fricker says:

    War is never the answer.

  4. Scottonthespot says:

    Obama's recent shift to ending the policy of bombing Afghan Farmers' fields and then expecting them to support us, is a welcome Change we can believe in (I hope), but what took them so long? Below is a more detailed version of the Obama plan I presented last February. The logic and historical precedent still holds.
    —————————————————————————–

    The recent surge in poppy production has to be dealt with in new and novel ways that play to our strengths and not to the Taliban's.

    As NATO contemplates a renewed attack on the embedded Taliban–a surge which has already cost hundreds of innocent Afghan lives as well as those of our own troops–it's worth asking if there is not another way; another way to curb the Taliban influence that does not involve killing people.

    History is helpful. In the 1970s, Turkey was the largest supplier of heroin in the world. Then the United States got smart and started buying the poppy crop–we still do. The government sold it to U.S. pharmaceutical firms to make legitimate drugs–after all, there are no bad plants, only bad uses for plants. The drug cartel lost control of Turkey and today Turkey is one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East. We later tried a similar approach in India with good results.

    From the CIA world fact site we know that the GDP of Afghanistan in 2006 was something under $40 billion. Today, over half the GDP of Afghanistan is tied up in poppy production in some way, and is controlled by rogue warlords who channel profits directly to the Taliban–some $100 million a year. This is an extremely lucrative business and there is nothing even remotely comparable in that region of the world. Sixty percent of Taliban income comes directly from poppy production.

    On the other hand, growing food is either uneconomic for the average afghan farmer, or is outright forbidden–at the point of a gun–by the Taliban militia who control the rural regions.

    Instead of fighting the Afghan farmer, who is caught in an impossible position, we should buy the crop–all of it–from him. This would:
    A. End 60% of Taliban income immediately.
    B. Put us on the side of the Afghan farmer instead of making us just one of his several enemies. Hearts and minds…
    C. Put a serious dent in the heroin trade – a concern also for Russia and Europe, who blame us for the escalation of their drug problem.
    D. Allow us to influence the Afghanistan people by becoming their respectful partner instead of their bullying enemy (there is something extremely unseemly about a country of our size, might, and moral stature, going around burning fields and dropping bombs on subsistence farmers in a desperately poor country. Obama may recognize this intuitively, but mollifying words have to be backed up with concrete action).

    Eventually, we need to encourage Afghans to grow food instead of Poppy plants. We should pay a 10% premium over the market price for poppy, for food staples. By finally establishing a middle class of farmers, shopkeepers, and other distributors, supported by microloans, we would cut the Taliban off at the knees. And by supplying a profit motive, the new middle class would be encouraged to form militias or to finally build up the Afghan army to protect themselves against the Taliban–who, despite popular perception, are largely loathed by the average Afghan citizen. As President Obama has publicly stated, you build a Democracy from the bottom up, not from the top down. We have a chance to do this in a way that is cheaper, far less violent, and far more effective than the shoot and burn approach we've tried thus far.

    There are other answers to the Afghan situation, if people are willing to examine history and to break out of idealogical molds. We need to play to our strengths, not to the Taliban's. In a game of attrition, history shows that those who try to forcefully bend Afghanistan to their will, eventually lose.

  5. cspringer says:

    America can do more for the Afghan people and for ourselves through generosity and compassion than through violence.

  6. howardlipson says:

    Are we a humane country or are we a military driven empire? Those of us who have a peace driven vision of America deserve leadership that truly follows the finest principles of what it is to be compassionate citizens of the world. Plenty of money for guns and bombs- but no money for schools and food? We must escape from the grip of a minority who mistakes military force as strength and compassion as weakness.

  7. jorgb says:

    It's time to end this war and begin the Peace with the Afghan people!

  8. jkidd says:

    How can we do this to people? Are we so heartless that we cannot see what our so-called “stabilization” efforts have done to the people of Afghanistan? My heart goes out to the people who have to endure these hardships through no fault of their own. We can never make amends for all the destruction we have wrought on their country.

  9. johannapettit says:

    What will it take to make our government human and caring. What kind of beast has our government become. Lusting after endless war.

  10. memischell says:

    Amb. Richard Holbrooke, through State Department factsheet/speech, informed about two months ago that already there are over THREE MILLION REFUGEES as result of AfPak war being pushed to the boundaries. He had asked that Europeans assist and send money, food, etc. Why did no reporter inform the public in North America that the “rental” of the Pakistani Army by U.S. military at cost of $1.2 billion dollars per month plus $105 Billion Congress Supplemental (passed by Obama and the Committee of both Parties with not a word of explanation where money goes offered to public by any mainstream media!) is a heavy price to pay for failure. For what? Protecting whose projected oil interests in the region?

    Is AfPak war going to be another disastrous, financially crippling “Sideshow” same as Nixon's Cambodia? This is a horror show and a huge Humanitarian Crisis that no one is addressing, or even talking about! Over 3 million refugees, 1500 civilians killed and counting thanks to Obama's new Vietnam-AF-PAK! Kids crippled from drone attacks lying in makeshift tent camps with no IVs,, no pharmaceuticals, no prosthetics. Is this the Change for Peace that the Nobel Prize was hoping for? There's a financial crisis out there! Who can afford this futile War?
    PBS will have an excellent documentary on the one woman who tried to tell the Rubins, the Alan Greenspans and the Larry Summers responsible for this derivative mess–Brooksley Born. We should all watch this on PBS October 20. It's called: “'THE WARNING”–pbs -We may understand why Obama's AfPak Cambodia is happening….

  11. maryloubrinich says:

    War is not the answer. The complexity of the Afghan situation boggles anyone's imagination. The sooner this country stops policing the world the better off the world will be. Different alternatives than destruction and violence must come into this dilemma and I do not know what the answers are but we must try to find them. If everyone is trying to find a solution without violence it will happen. Isn't religion meant to give humans a roadmap to live without violence and to help each other out? Ironically religion is the perpetrator of hell on earth for many of its believers.

  12. pauljalbert says:

    If instead of the United States spending all that money on weapons and troops it were to send water, food and other essential needs to the people of Afghanistan, the people would themselves rise up against the Taliban and cripple them or even eliminate them. The U.S. presence in Afghanistan would be curtailed only to protect this project and most of the killing would stop in short order. Abandon the military mindset and think outside the box to end this mess.

  13. Jean Smyth says:

    We must consider alternatives to the violence of war. War is NOT the answer nor the solution to a better outcome for human kind, our precious resources and and the children and families of this earth. We must halt the cycle of violence and give new hope to the generation of children who will lead us in the future. Do we want more of the same, or do we need a shift toward peace and generosity on this small planet of ours? Thank-you for your wonderful compassionate comments.

  14. Peter Laue says:

    johannapettit–Has the answer– How did we become the agressor and stand for war and not peace–the war must stop now

  15. sergebarg says:

    I am glad i have helped a tiny bit in providing these people with their/our basic needs.

  16. Anahata Pomeroy says:

    I am learning explanations and information from reading these posts. We need the Citizen Action team–a self-proclaimed peace corps NGO if not supported by Congress. How can we retract our $$ from war chests to support the Peace a world of people seek?

  17. Nedra Moore says:

    Please heed the requests to help Afghanistan in the many ways – education, health, et cetera, other than military actions which are turning their people against the U.S.A.
    War doesn't solve anything! And our young military personnel is not versed in the customs and culture of this country for the most part, which is also not helping the efforts to make a positive difference!

  18. Helves says:

    United States must get rid of greedy executives and I expect president Obama to do it . I herd from the public radio that Leaman's Brothers mede a profigt of $3.2 Billions dollars this quarter and they are ready to shell out $20 Billins dollars in bonuses. When Obama is going to weake up? All that money is more than sufficient to help the entire population of Afganisthan and help us out too. I am loosing faith. Maybe Nikita Kruschev was right when in the 50's said that U.S.A. will implode.

  19. gpetz says:

    Let's ask the corporations who are contracted to feed the troups to give some food to the children and their families.

  20. Blackhole2001 says:

    No more war! Let's get the hell out of there NOW! I'm tired of all the suffering caused by “friendly fire”. And I'm already against the next war wherever it will be.

  21. laurapodrasky says:

    In the fight for the war on terrorism, Americans have become the terrorist.

  22. elizabethmcrawford says:

    We should not try to defeat the Taliban militarily. If we put just a fraction of the military investment into aid and education instead, we could make a lasting difference help curb the bloodshed, too.

  23. zimmett says:

    I agree with most of the comments posted so far. I believe we should rethink our so-called Christian heritage and help the people of Afghanistan, not with more fighting but with food and medicine, and relief. Too bad Obama does not see the forest for the trees. Sending another 40,000 troops is not the answer. Perhaps buying all the poppy seeds from the farmers is a good idea. No telling when this war will end, perhaps if Obama sees the light it will end soon.

  24. richardjmullin says:

    It is beautiful to see the results of the food distribution program to starving people. That's what charity is all about. BUT, $15,000 is but a drop in the bucket compared to the total need and the aid has to continue into the future on a consistent basis.
    ALSO, I urge the coordinators of this program to not forget the children, orphans and homeless human beings in Iraq. Iraq has at least a desperate problem as Afghanistan and we caused the problems in Iraq!

  25. rovingstorm says:

    I really like this idea, but have a question? Don't the Taliban to some extent control these poppy fields? In that case, wouldn't the income still go to them? Would love to know the answer- thanks.

  26. Scott Baker says:

    You are correct – indeed, that is the point. We want to take money away from the Taliban – 60% of which comes from hundreds of millions in poppy production; there simply is no alternative revenue source like that in Afghanistan. By paying the farmers 10% (perhaps more) AND convening Loya Jirgas at the local level, consisting of farmers etc, the average Afghani would have a reason to band together to defeat the Taliban in their midst. Yes, I hate to say it, but this might require arming the average citizen, who is probably already slightly armed. What the politicians in our country fail to realize is that any country, including ours, must grow from the bottom up. We cannot “impose” a society on them any more than England could impose a society on the colonies during our Revolution. Build a middle class from those who secretly despise the Taliban but don't know what else to do to survive but to sell them their poppy crop. Enpower the average man, and the warlords will go away, or reform into marketing middlemen – for which there is actually a place in an economy.
    Again, this worked in Turkey, and then later in India, which took up the Poppy growing slack (it's no coincidence that both of these countries are geographically and climatically close to Afghanistan).
    Continue to build the society with microloans for bazaars, stores, and other businesses. Some of the Taliban – and there are only about 10,000 of them in Afghanistan – will switch over. Economic incentives are always the best, and in that part of the world especially so. The diehard radicals will have to be dealt with by newly energized police.

  27. rovingstorm says:

    Got it. Absolutely, the key will be to get the local leaders on board. Thanks for the response.

  28. jimrinx says:

    We need to both Educate these poor, largely ignorant folks about the Marshall Plan(s) – and then implement one, post haste!
    The former would win their Hearts – and reduce 'insurgent' attacks, by proving we really have 'Loved Our Enemies' in the past; and the latter would prove that we're willing to do the same for Afghanistan – id they'd let us.
    We should also get the Russian Federation involved in helping to rebuild this country; we used them as a Cold War Chessboard – and they've paid the price for it.
    If we could demonstrate to them that we feel sorry about this – and that we want to make it up to them; perhaps the 'Crazy Mullahs' would lose some or all of their steam.

  29. overdoneputaforkinit says:

    It's good to see the actual people getting the aid rather than it getting skimmed off by corrupt government or stolen by soldiers or warlords.

  30. georgejensen says:

    Hi, I am from the uk and i am very disturbed by what is happening in afghanistan and pakistan, the senseless stupidity of the US UK involvment so i am very happy to have found your site.

  31. lindariyad says:

    I notice many of the comments here mentioning the need for this kind of aid and also for education. There is an organization that helps the rural areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan to educate and feed themselves. It is all community based. the organization is the Central Asia Institute. their website is www . ikat . org and the book (best seller) three cups of tea is about it's formation. It's wonderful and these kinds of NGO's are the only reason and only way to continue any pro us sentiment.

  32. jaredeaton says:

    The most humane & intelligent aid is not only providing food, but a peace corps type of program of facilitating sanitary water, food production, education and security. Our foreign policy has been misdirected towards protecting our access to the world's natural resources rather than democracy or freedom. We can witness the wars around the globe close to oil and mineral deposits which leave human tragedy in their wakes. Armies have never solved political or economic problems but rather aggravate them.

  33. lynniegolon says:

    BLESSED BE!!! WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD AND ALL DESERVE LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO ARE BEING PARTS OF THE SOLUTIONS WE ALL NEED AND CHOOSE NOT TO BE PARTS OF THE PROBLEMS!! REMEMBER~ the more we help others, the more we help ourselves……….

  34. marilynmcdole says:

    Bombing and war: What have we accomplished by it?

  35. hanscramer says:

    put compassion and kindness ahead of bloody greed. peace is power. War for profit is your ticket to hell in this and the next life.

  36. hanscramer says:

    are the poppies mostly for big pharmicutical corps? isn't war usually for profit for greddy, hellish bastards?

  37. mrskosmos says:

    Hanscramer: It was conclusively proven in the Iran-Contra congressional hearings that the CIA was involved in the cocaine trafficking trade in the 1980's. Bush Senior was the one who headed that operation up, though that piece of information wasn't made public until after he lost re-election in 92 to Clinton. There have been rumors and allegations of the CIA being involved in several other type of drug trafficking, though none are conclusively proven. It has come out that Karzai's brother is the main drug cartel leader in Afghanistan, and it has also come out he is on the CIA payroll. Maybe you are right about the pharmaceutical companies wanting the US in Afghanistan so they can get their hands on the poppies, but given the CIA's drug trafficking history, I would guess it is the CIA that is taking the lion's share of the poppies.

  38. mrskosmos says:

    Hanscramer's second question: Unfortunately, the US is in a quandry. The only really big industry that actually produces something tangible that the US has left is the war industry. So, to keep that industry alive, we need to go to war. That is why the US is ALWAYS at war and what Eisenhower was talking about in the speech he made about the “industrial war complex” when he left office. If we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, it will mean thousands of lost jobs at home as we will no longer be buying weaponry for war. And right now, the US economy can't stand to loose more jobs. It is a no win situation for Obama.

  39. mrskosmos says:

    Hanscramer: It was conclusively proven in the Iran-Contra congressional hearings that the CIA was involved in the cocaine trafficking trade in the 1980's. Bush Senior was the one who headed that operation up, though that piece of information wasn't made public until after he lost re-election in 92 to Clinton. There have been rumors and allegations of the CIA being involved in several other type of drug trafficking, though none are conclusively proven. It has come out that Karzai's brother is the main drug cartel leader in Afghanistan, and it has also come out he is on the CIA payroll. Maybe you are right about the pharmaceutical companies wanting the US in Afghanistan so they can get their hands on the poppies, but given the CIA's drug trafficking history, I would guess it is the CIA that is taking the lion's share of the poppies.

  40. mrskosmos says:

    Hanscramer's second question: Unfortunately, the US is in a quandry. The only really big industry that actually produces something tangible that the US has left is the war industry. So, to keep that industry alive, we need to go to war. That is why the US is ALWAYS at war and what Eisenhower was talking about in the speech he made about the “industrial war complex” when he left office. If we pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan, it will mean thousands of lost jobs at home as we will no longer be buying weaponry for war. And right now, the US economy can't stand to loose more jobs. It is a no win situation for Obama.

  41. abassseo says:

    Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.

    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

  42. marlene aragon says:

    Again I see a video of unspeakable suffering that we, the US has had a mighty hand in. Our bombs and bullets have caused even more suffering than the horrible Taliban . .it appears.

    We must stop fighting in Afghanistan, and we lose more of our youth daily!!! STOP!!! We pay taxes and we have a right to voice our disgust. I voted for you, President Obama–mainly because I thought you would get us out of there! DO IT!

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