The following editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star June 1:

The Afghanistan parliament’s vote to ask for criminal prosecution of the U.S. soldiers involved in a deadly truck accident Monday in Kabul is a troubling development.

Although investigations into the cause of the accident continue, early reports indicate that the brakes on one of the trucks in a U.S. convoy failed. The truck hit a line of cars, killing as many as five Afghans. The incident triggered anti-foreigner riots throughout the city – the latest example of anti-Western opportunists using any excuse possible to incite violence. Attacks attributed to Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers are at the highest level since coalition forces ousted the Taliban in October 2001.

Unfortunately, the parliament is adding fuel to the fire by approving this nonbinding resolution. Just what Afghanistan doesn’t need – more heat without additional light.

In some ways, the parliamentary vote is a sign that politicians the world over are all the same. How many times have U.S. lawmakers proposed legislation that is little more than pandering to some agitated faction?

The Afghanistan issue now lies on the desk of President Hamid Karzai, who finds himself in an unenviable position. Desperate to be seen as more than a puppet of the United States, Karzai must find a way to acknowledge the concerns of his nation’s legislators while also defusing the escalating violence.

More than 19,000 U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan, a fact that too often is overlooked by this country’s myopic focus on Iraq. That’s just military personnel and doesn’t include the civilian contractors and American aid workers, who have become targets of increasing Afghan discontent.

In this week’s riots, the Kabul offices of CARE were torched and international aid workers were assaulted. Seven Afghans working for international aid groups – USAID and ActionAid International – were killed Tuesday in two separate incidents.

On May 18, a suicide car bomber killed an American civilian on a U.S. State Department police training project near the western city of Herat. Two other Americans were wounded.

Within the next few months, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is scheduled to assume control of Afghanistan’s most volatile southern region around Kandahar and then take over security along the eastern border with Pakistan. That should not be a signal that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan is ending. Although ISAF, which includes troops from 36 nations, will double its numbers to 18,000, U.S. military forces will decrease only to 16,500.

Or that was the plan before this current round of attacks.


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