In Afghanistan, Violence Stalls Renewal Effort
By CARLOTTA GALL http://nytimes.com/2003/04/26/international/worldspecial/26AFGH.html
ABUL, Afghanistan, April 25 — ...In a very real sense, the war here has not ended — as shown by an attack today that killed two American soldiers and by a planned visit on Sunday from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Nearly every day, there are killings, explosions, shootings and targeted attacks on foreign aid workers, Afghan officials, and
American forces, as well as continuing feuding between warlords in the regions.
No clear picture exists of who will provide the security to stop the bloodshed: the government of President Hamid Karzai, which still has no national army or police force; or the international force of 5,000 peacekeepers here in the capital; or the 11,500 Americans, Romanians and other foreign soldiers still in the provinces hunting for the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
For months now, the American military here has talked of moving into "Phase Four," which would mean winding down combat activities and entering a period of reconstruction. Yet the military is still mounting large-scale combat operations in the pursuit of armed groups of rebels in mountain hideouts, and turning villages upside down in a search for suspects and weapons that is making the foreign presence ever more unpopular with Afghans.
Q&A: Are the Problems Afghanistan is Facing Likely to Crop Up in Iraq? http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/international/slot1_042303.html?pagewanted=print&position=
From the Council on Foreign Relations, April 23, 2003
Are the problems Afghanistan is facing likely to crop up in Iraq?
Perhaps. Nearly a year and a half after the Taliban regime was ousted, security remains Afghanistan's biggest problem. In Iraq, it's not clear whether an effective force will step in to bridge the security void left by Saddam Hussein's downfall.
Is nation-building succeeding in Afghanistan?
Only to a degree. It's true that the lives of many Afghans, particularly women, have improved since the Taliban fell in late 2001, according to Arthur C. Helton, director of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. But Helton notes that Afghanistan remains far less than a fully functioning state.
Does the central government control the country?
No. The rule of Afghanistan's transitional government, established in June 2002, does not extend much beyond Kabul. Outside the capital, regional militia hold sway over many parts of the country. These militia, headed by so-called warlords, have little allegiance to the central government in Kabul, reports say.
What other threats does the government confront?
Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have again taken up arms after lying low in neighboring Pakistan. Some nation-building experts say there's a danger that, in Iraq, Saddam loyalists and other extremists who have gone underground will re-emerge to launch attacks on coalition troops and a future Iraqi administration.
Does the Afghanistan experience offer lessons for Iraq's postwar reconstruction?
Experts caution against considering post-Taliban Afghanistan a precise template for the new Iraq. But they make two broad points: First, Afghanistan teaches the general lesson that the Bush administration and the international community must be realistic about what can be achieved in Iraq and when. And second, as the United Nations did with Afghanistan, the United States is likely to have underestimated the level of commitment needed to establish a stable democracy in Iraq. Some analysts add that the nation-building project promised by President Bush may simply be beyond the capabilities of the U.S. government.
Weapons Proliferate In Baghdad Bazaar
Guns Sold With Little U.S. Interference
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 26, 2003; Page A16
BAGHDAD, April 25 -- Clutching a bag of handguns to his chest, Jaffar Abed vented his anger at the circumstances that brought him to a public plaza crowded with gun-toting men. He and his friends were legitimate gun dealers, he claimed, but were afraid to open their shops.
"Now we're selling here outside, just like looters," he complained. "Now there's no security. Everyone is frightened. . . . Bush and Blair promised the people a better life after Saddam. Is this the better life they promised?"
His references to President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and the ousted president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, were shouted over the din of automatic weapons fire. From all around the plaza in the Baghdad al Jadidah district came the metal-on-metal sounds of men locking and loading -- jamming banana-shaped bullet clips into AK-47 assault rifles and working the bolts -- then firing bursts into the air.
As Abed was speaking, three U.S. Army Humvees rounded a corner and stopped on one side of the plaza. The guns suddenly fell silent. Sellers scurried away with their weapons or simply stood in the crowd holding their guns behind their backs. The soldiers scanned the crowd, but did not get out of their vehicles. As a reporter approached, one soldier headed off questions with a curt, "No media."
The patrol drove off. A minute later, the gunfire resumed.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
Saturday Q&A: VA doctor's worry is vets whose war doesn’t end http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/119393_satchat26.html
By KRISTIN DIZON
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
In the weeks and months ahead, soldiers from the Iraq war will start returning home. Many will be fine, but others will have recurring physical and psychological trauma -- something that also affects their families.
Dr. Murray Raskind, 60, is the executive director of the mental health service for the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Raskind oversees a staff of 350 that serves 25,000 patients a year, many from the Vietnam War.
What are the most common problems soldiers have after war?
The most common is PTSD, or some sort of acute stress syndrome. ... The symptoms that family members see are great difficulty sleeping, with thrashing around in the bed, and frequent awakening from a recurring dream or nightmare that is related to a terrifying and life-threatening situation. ...
Typically the nightmare will be that they're facing an enemy force and their rifle jams and the enemy is coming closer and closer. And they try desperately to get their weapon to operate and it doesn't and they start running and fear that they'll be killed at any moment. ...
How common is PTSD for soldiers who have been at war?
Not all returning service persons experience these problems, but in the Vietnam War, we estimate conservatively that 30 percent of veterans exposed to combat, continue to this day -- more than 30 years later -- to suffer from PTSD. In the Gulf War, we don't have as firm statistics, and there were other problems. ...
I'm sure that the personnel who went from Kuwait over this two- to three-week period, through this rapid, stressful and very dangerous mechanized advance through Iraq will go through the same problems.
Would you expect that to also reach about 30 percent?
We'll find out. Each conflict is so different. It's hard to predict. ... Certainly in this recent and still ongoing Iraq conflict, every day many of these soldiers faced assaults with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, the threat of suicide attacks and snipers or coming on mines in the road. So, I suspect that it'll certainly be substantial and I would guess that it would be anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the returning troops would have this problem.