The U.S. government announced an additional package of $8 billion in foreign aid to be delivered to Afghanistan. Three-quarters of the aid will be for security forces, with the remaining $2 billion for reconstruction following the fall of the Taliban. To date, Washington already has delivered $14.2 billion in foreign aid to Afghanistan.

Secretary Rice is expected to ask NATO allies to step up to the plate and, together, grant aid to Afghanistan by a similar amount on Friday in Brussels. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, “We certainly hope the alliance will match those figures — if not in actual dollar figures, but in terms of their commitment to do everything they can to fight the Taliban and to build Afghanistan so they have a more prosperous, stable country.”

Previous attempts by NATO commanders requesting support from NATO allies for the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan have gone largely ignored, or accompanied with limited support, but not to the degree needed to fight the war in Afghanistan. The Houston Chronicle reported that Gen. David Richards, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, said on Thursday that the NATO-led force remains “about 20 percent short of the troops levels pledged by its contributing nations.”

Finally, despite U.S. requests the Afghan government will not permit poppy fields to be sprayed with herbicide in an effort to eradicate the drug trade of heroin. Last year, Afghan production of heroin equaled the annual demand for heroin worldwide. The Afghan government intends to rely on “traditional” methods of eradication, by stomping on the fields and destroying them by hand.
Sources:

U.S. to increase spending in Afghanistan | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

US to push NATO allies to match major increase in funding for Afghanistan

Paul H. Masters is a former CPA with Grant Thornton, having worked as an associate tax attorney for Baker & McKenzie and Vinson & Elkins, currently serving as an assistant attorney general. These opinions are those solely of the author, and to not represent those of his past or current employers.

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