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After being the subject of a critical story emanating from Washington regarding the drug trade in Afghanistan, Afghani President Hamid Karzai shot back:

President Hamid Karzai today demanded justice for Afghan prisoner abuse by American interrogators, and he blamed the United States and Britain, not his government, for the slow progress of anti-drug efforts in his country. He also said he would ask President Bush for greater control over Afghan affairs as part of a longer-term strategic partnership.

. . . Mr. Karzai underscored cooperation with the United States, but also insisted that Afghans' sense of independence and self-reliance was growing. "No Afghan is a puppet, you know," he said in a Fox News interview. "There is a stronger ownership of the Afghan government and the Afghan people now."

It remained unclear how much his criticisms were intended for Afghan consumption, or whether his meeting with Mr. Bush might be rendered less comfortable than past such encounters, which have generally been portrayed as relaxed and amicable.

His comments, nonetheless, came at a delicate and unexpectedly contentious moment, a day after Mr. Karzai had expressed dismay over reports of abuses of Afghan prisoners - "it has shocked me thoroughly," he said Saturday in Kabul - and as Mr. Karzai's help in eradicating opium poppies in Afghanistan was being questioned by the United States.

Karzai also added some perspective on the claims that Newsweek's item on the descration of the Koran by US interrogators had led to rioting in Afghanistan:

"We were angry about that," Mr. Karzai said of the Newsweek report. But he suggested that the real target of the violent demonstrations was something else.

"It was directed at the peace process that we have of inviting back the thousands of the Taliban to come back to their country," he said. "It was actually against the elections in Afghanistan. So we know what was going on there." Parliamentary elections are due in autumn.

Er, a bit of diplomacy may be called for here. I say we send in Bolton.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun May 22, 2005 at 06:47 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Assume... (4.00)
    ...you're referring to Michael, not John.  
  •  We never finished the job in Afghanistan (none)
    elections notwithstanding.  The money was not forthcoming except for arms.  There is a ton of rebuilding necessary for afghans to be able to leave the drug market.  We've used it for a dumping ground of sorts, moving prisoners in and out to avoid notice of our cruelty.
    •  you know ... (none)
      I'm curious ... if we actually let locals do the rebuilding (apparently in Iraq, Iraqi firms were barred from bidding for many of the contracts -- either directly or 'indirectly'), how much less would it cost?  And how much more quality would the work be?  And how much more would it contribute to stability of the countries (by enhancing local employment)?  

      I am not too up on my Marshall Plan history, but can anyone tell me: were we mostly paying US companies to do the work, or did we give contracts to local firms?

      •  Cut out the contractors (bag men's) cut (none)
        I'm curious ... if we actually let locals do the rebuilding (apparently in Iraq, Iraqi firms were barred from bidding for many of the contracts -- either directly or 'indirectly'), how much less would it cost?

        Oh, about 95% less.

        Remember they managed to build what they had before everyone came along and bombed the crap out of them.

        They don't need skyscrapers right now after all. Just roads, relatively simple bridges, houses and small buildings will do for now. They can handle that.

      •  I'm in Afghanistan now (4.00)
        Most of the US funds for reconstruction are channeled through the US Agency for International Development.  In the case of counter narcotics, USAID has a "Alternative Livelihoods" program costing $360 million over three years.  It is just getting started in key provinces.  This major award was divided among three US-based for-profit firms.  While all of these firms have experience in development and/or reconstruction programs, I can tell you that they are having trouble recruiting and convincing people to come to Afghanistan right now given the security climate.  But the idea of the program is sound:  you can't just eradicate poppies without providing other, legal sources of income for farming families.

        I'm here with the US Dept. of Agriculture.  We're working to strengthen the capabilities of Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture.  The ministry is mostly non-functional now, but it needs to be able to deliver information and training to farmers.  The idea is for the Ministry, through agricultural extension programs, to promote other, non-narcotic high value crops.  We're also working to develop the regulatory programs in food safety, inspection, animal disease quarantine and surveillance, and other programs necessary for Afghan farmers and processors to be able to export their products, and insure the quality of the domestic food supply.  
        Much is needed and of course progress is slow.  But in general, Ministry staff are open to learning and trying new things.  They really do want to create a functional ministry that can support Afghanistan agriculture, an industry which employs 85% of Afghans.

        •  and the rest of the $? (none)
          So how much is non-narcotics based ag getting?  Do you feel it is right to target poppey growing specifically?  I don't know much about this, and it sounds like you're on top of it, so I'd like to know what your feeling is on the general "is enough being done // can more be done" issue?  If not enough, how much, approximately, would it take to get enough Afghan farmers to a point where there could be real talk of stability etc. in Afghanistan?

          Thanks

          •  non-narcotics ag (none)
            From the US, the original agricultural reconstruction program, not specifically targeted to narcotics areas, was $150 million for 3 years.  The program is in the second year of operation.  I think it has had some success in constructing market centers, training processors (of raisins, nuts, dried fruit) on international standards, etc.  This project was managed by USAID, but I don't really have a handle on how much of the funds reached the field projects and how much remained with the for-profit firm that implements it.

            As for USDA, the Department has provided about $65 million in surplus US food commodities, both for direct feeding (in girls schools, for example), to pay teachers with food, and to monetize some food to pay for agricultural development projects.  Through monetization of surplus vegetable oil, for example, we now have about $4 million for training of Ag. Ministry staff, and another $4 million to develop the capacities of the faculty of Afghanistan's 11 agricultural colleges.  Not much more than a drop in the bucket of what is needed out here, but it really is hard to spend millions responsibly and in a way that will get some sustainable results.

            In my opinion, which is based on very limited knowledge, there are some high value crops which have a natural advantage here:  grapes for raisins, all kinds of nuts, including pistachio, pomegranites for processing into juice, etc.  Water is a limiting factor in many areas, but Afghan farmers are pretty innovative and irrigation has a long history here, so that can be overcome.  We're already providing training in capturing snow melt, for example.  Livestock is also a high value product and many farm families have their entire savings/wealth tied up in their livestock, thus the need for disease control/eradication and good veterinary care.

            How much more is needed?  I don't think that more money is necessarily the answer.  I would like to see the results of the initial efforts before asking for more money.  So many of these activities are in the very early stages that it is hard to evaluate real results at this point.  

            •  would you be interested in doing some diaries? (none)
              I'd love to hear more about how things are going on the ground in Afghanistan after The Forgotten Invasion (TM). And likewise, if there's anything us over here can do to help ... understanding that those huge projects might most need time and breathing room rather than more individual charity and meddling.

              Back in 2000 I got interested in landmine clearing through
              Adopt A Minefield where I learned that Afghanistan was the most heavily mined place on earth. Then with the invasion everything really went in the shitter, as all of the little areas that had been cleared and returned to farming were covered in US cluster bombs. I think I'll go back and donate to AAM again, but if there's anything else you can suggest I/we do from over here in the US, I'd love to hear it.

              "There are no shortcuts to accomplishing constructive social change ... struggle is called 'struggle' for a reason." Ward Churchill

              by CAuniongirl on Sun May 22, 2005 at 10:17:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reminds me of that cartoon coming out of France (none)
                during WWII.  The GI is slogging through a field of devastation saying what more could the farmer want?  His fields are plowed, his trees are prunes and his house is air conditioned!
        •  If the economic impact on the tobacco industry (none)
          is too huge here to shrink it without paying off the farmers, how are you going to kill off 20% of the GDP in a place where next 1000 options are all non-agricultural?

          The only way to kill the industry is to let market prices push the price of raw opium to the level of sesame oil.

          •  Well (none)
            I'm sure the price of raw opium in afghanistan is probably about the same as raw sesame oil. Each middle man raises the cost before it hits the street by a factor of ten, and normally there are 6-7 midddlemen. My guess is that opium is just easy to prodce, after all poppies are basically wildflowers, whereas sesame probably has to be cultivated.
            •  I think you're right (none)
              I think you're on target here.  Opium poppies grow easily in rocky dry soil, without major inputs of irrigation or equipment.  I don't know the farmgate price of the opium gum, but I do know that poppy growers pay their day laborers the equivalent of US$12 per day.  People that work in the wheat fields earn the equivalent of $2 per day.  

              One interesting thing that is happening this year is that local growers and drug lords are adding value to their product.  Previously, during the Soviet and Taliban eras, it is believed that poppy growers shipped the raw opium gum to Russia for processing in the herion labs.  Some herion was consumed in Russia and the rest was sent on to Europe and America.  Now those herion labs are being established in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, as is being reported in many areas, the young village men are being targeted by the growers and drug lords, becoming addicted to herion, and becoming forever indebted to drug production and trade.

        •  Hopefully You'll see this suggestion (none)
          Back in the 1970's when Peace Corps was in Afghanistan, cuttings of Fruit and Grape trees and vines were made and sent to U of California for research.  This is the largest depository of traditional Afghan fruit trees anyshere, and the genetic bank needs to be returned to Afghanistan.

          It would be much better to develop the basic nursery program there -- train techs and all than it would be to leave it all in California.  Some of the original stock has been crossed for better yields, more resistance to frost etc.  In fact just yesterday U of Wisconsin announced a winter tolerant plumb based on Afghani stock.  

          The sad thing is that we took the genetic pool back in the late 60's early 70's -- fruit tree breeding that represented several thousand years of work.  The best thing we could do now is to return some of it, and set up the nursery process so that the orchards and vinyards can eventually be restored.  

          •  Roots of Peace (none)
            This is good information.  There is an organization named Roots of Peace that is active here, and within this organization, UC/Davis is a major player.  It is working to improve grapes and other rootstocks, probably with the same genetic material that you mentioned.  I believe this organization is getting some USAID funding.
        •  USAID, USDA, Alternative Livelihoods (none)
          I'm sure Karzai was shocked, I tell you, shocked to learn that there are opium poppies growing in this establishment.  Round up the usual suspects.

          I have recently learned about the USAID faith-based initiatives and policies regarding drug use - see Abstinence, Suffering and Christianity - The Bush Administration's Faith-Based Policies at http://www.buyblue.org/archives/2005/05/abstinence_suff.html#more
          specifically the witchhunt at USAID against that Left Demon George Soros, his Open Society Institute, and "harm reduction" as a nefarious plot to undermine US zero tolerance of drugs policy.

          In a February 11, 2005 letter to USAID administrator Andrew Natsios, Davis and Souder demanded that Natsios produce all documents pertaining to USAID funding of needle exchange programs. The House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources had written to Natsios in January, asking for documents about USAID funding of Soros' Open Society Institute/Kazakhstan "as part of an ongoing investigation of the international "harm reduction/drug legalization movement."

          "To undermine drug laws, the drug legalization movement often acts in the guise of promoting the alleged public health benefits of `harm reduction.' But not everyone is fooled," the letter intones. It goes on to demand that USAID staff drop everything and produce all documents relating to George Soros, the Open Society Institute, needle exchange, drug legalization, and potentially heretical public statements by USAID personnel.

          So far as you know, is USAID using Christian organizations in Afghanistan to promote the planting of alternative crops, or the promotion of alternative livelihoods (sweatshop in Kabul comes to mind)along with a soupcon of Jesus?

          This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone might be proud of us.

          by marthature on Sun May 22, 2005 at 08:38:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not that I know of . . . . (none)
            I agree that USAID is under great pressure to pass an increasing portion of its funds through faith based organizations.  Here in Afghanistan I'm not aware that any of the funds for agriculture and alternative livelihoods go to these organizations.  In fact, all of the companies selected as "prime contractors" are for-profit.  However, these for-profit firms often subcontract at many levels to local and international organizations to do the actual implementation, so I suppose it is possible that USAID dollars are supporting faith based orgs here in Afghanistan.

            The constant micromanagement by congress, and the kinds of demands you mention above, greatly reduce USAID's effectiveness in the field.    

  •  I notice the media (none)
     falling all over themselves to not report Karzai busting conventional wisdom over the Newsweek piece in the chops.

     Fucking cowards.

    I tell you there is a fire. They have this day set a blazing torch to the temple of constitutional liberty and, please God, we shall have no more peace forever.

    by Anderson Republican on Sun May 22, 2005 at 06:49:57 PM PDT

  •  Bolton? Nah (4.00)
    Send Laura. She's a true unifier. She managed to piss off the Israelis and the Palisinians in a single day. No small feat, that.
  •  Drug War in Afghanistan is a recipe for disaster (4.00)
    My big concern in Afghanistan is our obsession with using prohibition as the one-size-fits-all sledgehammer for all drug issues.

    There are strong forces within the administration that are pushing for huge eradication efforts.  Of course, this is without any effective replacement industry or crop.

    All we'll succeed in doing is developing massive internal chaos (just like we're doing in Colombia).  The criminals (and maybe terrorists) who control the drug trade will profit hugely (because we'll never get it all, and eradicating part of it just increases the profits on the rest).  The farmers will get stuck between us and the criminals -- if they value their lives they won't side with us.

    Next thing you know, we'll be the next Russia in Afghanistan.

    We have legitimate uses for poppies and the medicinal byproducts.  Why don't we start buying them from Afghanistan?  Let them get on their feet and develop other industries.

    But no, we'll start spraying poison on them any day now.

    •  no joke ... (none)
      Even if we were serious about drug eradication, it should be way way way below eradicating the Taleban or capturing OBL on our priorities list ... and rebuilding Afgh (which would solve most of it anyways -- if we gave people a good shot at $).

      Minor aside: The whole drug war is such a sham -- a few days ago, in a suburb of Houston (Tom Delay's Sugarland, actually!), a mother was shot DEAD by people coming to buy marijuana from her son when she stepped into the room after hearing an altercation.  Enforcement will never ever ever work, unless we have Soviet style control (and even then ...); legalize it, and like you say, buy it from the Aghanis ...

    •  Already done (none)
      A NYT article in February, "Afghans Accuse U.S. of Secret Spraying to Kill Poppies" here.  I'm pretty sure there was a diary about it as well (SusanHu maybe?) but I couldn't find it.
  •  I suggest the nickname "Boltox" (none)

    Since Bolton is Toxic, and it sounds like Botox.

    George W. Bush makes the baby Jesus cry.

    by WSmith on Sun May 22, 2005 at 06:57:53 PM PDT

  •  The abuse report (none)
    I'm glad the abuse report is out.  There's pressure to spill all the truth about Afghan prisoner torture.  And Karzai is also feeling the pressure.  He knows he HAS to protest like he's doing now or the Afghan populace will really turn on him.  

    I believe the demonstrations last week were actually mostly peaceful.  The first day of the Jalalabad protests were peaceful, then they somehow got provoked into vandalism on the second day.  In Kabul the university students stayed peaceful.  On the Friday after protests many Kabul Imams called on self restraint in carrying out the protests.  I commend the imams and these protestors, the real heroes of the past few days.  About 17 people died.  But considering how badly protests could've gotten out of control, this number spread out over the whole country is thankfully small.  I want to still hold out hope that the country can hold together to the parliamentary elections, and use those elections to assert its sovereignity.

  •  He's Angry NOW? (3.80)
    I'm not buying it.  These atrocities were known way back when, right here.

    Why the hell wasn't he monitoring what was going on in his own country?  If he couldn't get the real info from his good buddies in D.C., he could have always checked with the Red Cross.

    His faux outrage is way too late.  His dander seems to have been raised only after big riots there and I just gotta wonder who the hell he thinks he's kidding.

    We're I him, I'd be checking out retirement spots somewhere.  Maybe he could join Allawi?

    No sale here.

    You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

    by mattman on Sun May 22, 2005 at 07:01:54 PM PDT

    •  He's angry at being blamed for illegal prosperity (none)
      so Bush can deflect attention from illegal torture and murder.
    •  Karzai condemned the demonstration. (none)
      Karzai initially condemned the demonstration. These are his words reported by BBC:

      "Those people demonstrating are against the strategic partnership of Afghanistan with the international community, especially the United States."

      These are words of a Western-looking-is-the-only-asset puppet, elected or not.  Now he is speaking up, belatedly, probably because he is realizing all predecessors in Afghanistan since the 1970s (elected or not) have been either expelled (Karmal, the Taliban) or killed (Daoud, Taraki, Najibullah).

  •  I do hope that (4.00)
    that nice Mr. Karzai doesn't meet with an unexpected accident after speaking so sharply to young Mr. Bush--something to do with helicopters, for instance.

    There's a nice-ninny priest/at tea in everyone,/all cozy and chatty as auntie,/but a saint comes/and throws rocks through the window. -- John Ciardi

    by Mnemosyne on Sun May 22, 2005 at 07:05:42 PM PDT

  •  Poor guy (3.66)
    He's taking himself seriously.  They must have lied to him too, telling him he had power.

    Methinks he is not long for this world.

    "You may experience episodes of explosive amnesia."

    by redcloud54 on Sun May 22, 2005 at 07:08:37 PM PDT

    •  What did I say? (none)
      Did I offend, mjshep?

      Dreadfully sorry, old boy.  Just calling it like I see it.  We are famous for discarding heads of state that no longer meet our very particular needs.

      You would agree with that, no?

      "You may experience episodes of explosive amnesia."

      by redcloud54 on Sun May 22, 2005 at 11:09:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Paging Mr. Voinovich (none)
    "I say we send in Bolton."
  •  If Dubya's not careful (none)
    Karzai (aka the Mayor of Kabul) is going to start singing "Ohhhhh, I got no strings..."

    News is what powerful people don't want you to hear. Everything else is publicity.-Bill Moyers

    by jazzmaniac on Sun May 22, 2005 at 07:13:05 PM PDT

  •  I think Karzai could use (3.50)
    some of Bolton's delicate diplomacy.  The guy is obviously believing his own lies about not being a U.S. puppet. The nerve of the guy (from Armando's link):

    Mr. Karzai also said it was time for American military officials to seek Afghan permission before raiding people's houses.

    And this, from the Christian Science Monitor (and also heard on BBC radio):

    Ahead of his White House meeting Monday with President Bush, Karzai said he wants greater control over American military operations in his country and punishment for any US troops who mistreat prisoners.

    American troops, under the control of a third-world puppet? American troops, having to ask pretty please before knocking down some peasants' doors? Perhaps Karzai has been partaking of the bountiful Afghani poppy crop.  Only in his opium dreams will he have a say in anything U.S. troops do in his country.

  •  Pretense of sovereignty shed so quietly? (4.00)
    Isn't it funny how we so easily slide past Karzai's open admission that he is a puppet?

    He also said he would ask President Bush for greater control over Afghan affairs as part of a longer-term strategic partnership.

    Sometimes we get sucked into Orwellian illusions, but some of us manage to slap ourselves awake again.
  •  Let Me Get This Straight (4.00)
    Is President Karzai suggesting that one of the major reasons for the protests was "the peace process that we have of inviting back the thousands of the Taliban to come back to their country"?  That's completely nonsensical:  violent anti-American protests because the government is negotiating with America's enemy?  I must be missing something here, because that seems contradictory on its face.

    Besides, it's really rather offensive to hear that Karzai is willing to welcome back the Taliban.  Already, Taliban-like values and Taliban-like justice appears to be resurgent in Afghanistan, as demonstrated by the murder of Shaima Rezayee this past week.  To hear her story, read this diary from yesterday:

    "A Sad Tale of How Far Afghanistan Still Has to Go"

    Wouldn't this kind of reconciliation completely put the lie to dear old Bush's doctrine of spreading democratic values throughout the world?  Allowing the Taliban to return to public life would represent a betrayal of those values and especially of the women of Afghanistan.

  •  Mr. Karzai is Treading a Dangerous Path (none)
    now-- now that he is upping the ante and making new demands of BushCo.

    surely he's not forgotten the puppet masters just bitch-slapped Sad-Ham out of power in Iraq and not so long ago we did the same to Noreiga (now rotting in a FL jail cell) and sundry other U.S. installed tyrants who forgot their place in the scheme of things.

    so what does Karzai want? MORE MONEY, more U.S. military involvement.. under HIS control??

    gimme a break.

    •  Pretending (none)
      He doesn't want anything. This is a scripted dance. They are playing a game of face saving on both sides.
      •  You're Wrong (none)
        yes, it's scripted but Karzai DOES INDEED WANT MORE MONEY.

        he's totally correct that useless windbag countries like the U.S. and Great Britain are LONG on demands (i.e. "you've got to stop heroin production") but SHORT on providing MONEY to Afghanistan to totally transform their centuries old cash crop into what??

        potatos? cucumbers?

        this is just one more example of the moronic, non-reality based world in which BushCo and Tony Bliar reside in.

        Karzai is treading on thin ice-- both here and with the Afghan drug/warlords who aren't about to give up their most lucrative cash crop and grow baby carrots instead.

        gimme a break.

  •  This is phony news. A set up. Karzai Bush faceoff (3.75)
    This is bullshit. Karzai is just saying this for political reasons. He doesn't care about torture of Afghans. He is another Bush Poodle. Amazing that a dummy like Bush has poodles. Just Amazing.

    He will have his meeting with Bush and Bush will parry with "you have to do something about the drugs" It's all scripted, not of it is real.

    We are being fed the news in a peculiar way. A manipulative way. All the new is a presentation made to look real. Almost all news is from government sources. That's a fact. There are no idependent reporters who are hooked up with major media. Reporter sit around waiting to be briefed by the government. Then they report the "news" as if it came from their own researc h.

  •  Was it meant for publication? (none)
    Memo blames Afghan gov't for drug problem

    The memo, sent May 13 from the United States Embassy in Kabul.

    If it was a memo, it probably wasn't meant for publication.

    Why is it that government leaks like a sieve?

    There are people deliberately trying to cause failure. What's their motive?

  •  I used to think (none)
    Kicking the Taliban out of Afghanistan was the one thing our administration did that was really good and well-executed. Alas, it's after the invasion is over that the other shoe drops - if they're not willing to commit the troops and resources, I'm afraid the country is just going to end up in the hands of religious wackos again. Scary thought.
  •  It sure is hard to say exactly what Karzai (none)
    is saying in those last paragraphs.

    My understanding is that the way we have been able to keep some sort of order in Afghanistan with so few troops and so little money is that we have allowed (encouraged?) the warlords to grow poppies so they can sell the opium and buy guns to keep order. That's the typical CIA MO: keep the bad shit off budget with creative financing.

    So that's what Karzai is saying about the US and Britain not suppressing poppy cultivation like they say they are doing. No shit. Reading This Administration is easier than divining through entrails: whatever they say, they are doing the opposite.

    But that last comment of Karzai's: Is he saying that the US is bringing back the Taliban (he says "we") and the Afghans hate that because the Taliban will be allowed to vote in August? If not that, what?

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who do not have it." - George Bernard Shaw

    by CarbonFiberBoy on Sun May 22, 2005 at 09:07:47 PM PDT

  •  We NEED Bolton. (none)
    You've never been more right.  We really need John Bolton to bitch slap Karzai and get him to him back into line.

    Maybe he could chase Karzai down a hallway and slip threatening letters underneath his door. After all, he's got some experience in that field. Now that's diplomacy!  Karzai would quickly learn his lesson.

  •  As I noted in catnip's diary on this subject... (none)
    How did Karzai break free of his puppeteer?

    It was frightening.  Almost like a Chucky sequel.

    If it ain't in the Bible, it ain't science!

    by Bob Johnson on Sun May 22, 2005 at 10:54:54 PM PDT

  •  PUPPET, PRESIDENT OF AFGHAN, OR PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT (none)
    Dear Kos . . .

    I saw Karzai as quite the diplomat, unlike Bolton.  To me he appeared conciliatory.  He seemed to accept King George's stance and spoke words of compassion.  In my own post, I expressed my impression.  I watched much of the press conference, read many reports, and thought wow!  
    PUPPET, PRESIDENT OF AFGHAN, OR PSYCHOLOGY STUDENT ©
    On May 23, 2005, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with United States President George W. Bush.  They walked together, talked together, and shared a podium.  They held a joint press conference.  Afghani Leader, Karzai was brilliant.  He played the American President, performed for the press, and did nothing to upset American citizens.  He was apologetic, understanding, empathetic, and endearing.

    Karzai expressed admiration for America and Americans.  He stated, "The people of the United States are very kind people."  He continued.  "It is only one or two individuals who are bad and such individuals are found in any military in any society everywhere, including Afghanistan."  President Bush acknowledged these words with appreciation.

    Feel free to discuss, disagree, and share.  I welcome the learning.

    Be-Think   Betsy L. Angert

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