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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

October 7, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 126




Dennis Coday Afghanistan's two years of freedom

Dennis Coday, NCR staff writer

Today is the second anniversary of the start of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, the bombing that kicked off the campaign that toppled the Taliban later that year.

According to media reports from Kabul (U.S. Warns of 'Spectacular' Taliban Acts), the lead-up to the anniversary has been the bloodiest period since the overthrow of the Islamic militia, with more than 300 people killed since the start of August, including aid workers, U.S. soldiers, government officials, troops and many rebels.

Headlines from around the world hint at Afghanistan's troubles:

Of course, for those paying attention, this is not a new story. Back in April, Mercy Corps, an international aid agency that has worked in Afghanistan for 16 years issued a media alert Continued Insecurity in Southern Afghanistan Causes Concern.

Jim White, Mercy Corps' South Asia regional director, told a reporter from Portland's The Oregonian: "For the first time in 16 years, we're having to pull back substantially from an area that we've worked in through five successive governments, including the Taliban, the mujahedeen and the Soviets."

Mercy Corps lost one of its workers in an ambush on Aug. 7. Last week it, along with other agencies, annouced it was suspending operations in Afghanistan. CARE says armed attacks on aid workers have jumped from one a month last year to one every two days (NGOs Meet to Reassess Work in Southern Afghanistan).

Yesterday, NATO -- which commands the 5,300-strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (mainly just around Kabul) -- agreed agreed Monday "in principle" to the expand their mission beyond Kabul. According to Agence France-Presse, aid agencies greeted the announcement lukewarmly: Afghan Peacekeeping Expansion "Too Little, Too Late".

Some good has come out of the war. ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins, chose this anniversary day to announce it had sign a book deal with retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks (Tommy Franks Agrees To Memoirs Deal). Financial terms were not disclosed, but Franks had reportedly been seeking a seven-figure deal.

Is this the U.S. government's idea of nation building? Is this the liberation of a shackled society? Those who care about Afghanistan must be feeling despair. Iraqis must be really anxious.

Dennis Coday is an NCR staff writer and coordinates NCR's Web site. His e-mail address is

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