The Corner

Why Afghans Don’t Believe the Civilian Surge

Amir Arsalan Afkhami, a past contributor to National Review Online and a professor of psychiatry at George Washington University, recently returned from Afghanistan, where he was looking at the medical infrastructure and emergency medical processes. He’s written up one aspect of his findings at Psychology Today.

Simply put, while the White House and the Pentagon urge Afghan partnership with NGOs and seek “a civilian surge,” it remains policy to treat only military and USAID casualties in emergency military facilities. Basically, that means that if a bomb goes off and wounds USAID employees and other Western NGO members and their Afghan staffs, the military leaves the Afghan staff behind to bleed out on the street. Money quote:

It is absurd for Brussels and Foggy Bottom to ignore the medical welfare of NGO contractors injured in the line of duty while at the same time acknowledge their vital role in the ongoing military effort. Reassuring development specialists that they will be fully cared for will improve morale and slow the hemorrhage of qualified individuals, especially Afghans, by showing them that they will not be abandoned in the face of injury caused by an enemy who sees them as being equal targets to the men and women in uniform. 

Current policy is a propaganda bonanza for the Taliban who can rightly claim that the West sees Afghans not as equal partners, but rather as expendable cannon fodder. It’s a policy that President Obama, Secretary Gates, and General Petraeus should immediately fix.

Michael Rubin — Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East ...

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