Biden Calls for U.S. Peacekeeping Force in Afghanistan
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, continued to urge the Bush Administration to deploy peacekeeping troops into Afghanistan to ensure the success of the new government. President Bush has repeatedly refused requests to use U.S. troops in a peacekeeping role after the current mission in Afghanistan ends. Biden, however, claims that U.S. troops are imperative to creating stability and preventing a “lawless safe haven for anti-American terrorists.” Biden continued, “History will judge us harshly if we allow the hope of a liberated Afghanistan to evaporate because we failed to stay the course.”
Reports from Herat further emphasize the need for peacekeepers. The Washington Post documents that former Taliban members are still working as religious police in this western city near the border of Iran. The self-appointed governor of Herat, Ismail Khan, is feared in the city, as under his leadership, public demonstrations have been silenced with guns, citizens have gone into hiding for voicing dissent, and people have been intimidated by violence from hanging posters or listening to music. Women’s singing has also been banned from television. While elections have been held for smaller offices in the government, no elections have been planned for governor. A shopkeeper told reporters, “The only difference between the Taliban and the new government [in Herat] is that they don’t wear turbans.” In his defense, Khan says, “I am a military person, and I have a legal system, and we have given security to all the people here.” A taxi driver begged to differ, telling reporters, “We have tried many governments in Afghanistan. The Taliban were the worst…but in Herat, Ismail Khan is not much better.”
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