All the world’s an asylum

The Associated Press exposes an interesting leading indicator in the report posted at FoxNews.com, Afghan asylum bids hit 10-year high.  “More Afghans fled the country and sought asylum abroad in 2011 than in any other year since the start of the decade-long war, suggesting that many are looking for their own exit strategy as international troops prepare to withdraw.”

The announced end date for our presence in Afghanistan is going to suck more than just troops out of the country; anyone with the means and sense to leave will probalby not delay much longer (i.e. the people needed here if this country is to have a chance).  The quotes from the ‘man-on-the-street’ in the AP report likely reflect the dominant perspective of the al-Gaeda (see Confessions of a Mullah Warrior, Masood Farivar, p. 290) but will certainly be discounted by Washington as anecdotal.

Regarding the “progress” the coalition is making:

“I don’t think anything will improve in three or five years, so it’s better to leave now,” said Ahmad, who expects to leave for Iran within a few weeks. He asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of being arrested.  “If foreign troops leave, the situation will only get worse, not better,” he said.

 Regarding the influence of the Taliban:

Some Afghans fear that once most foreign troops leave, the Taliban will take over more territory and civil war could erupt along ethnic lines, as it did in the 1990s.

[Esmat Adine] says he left his wife and infant son at home in Afghanistan and paid $5,000 to travel to Australia after the Taliban threatened to kill him for working with American aid workers.

Regarding the economy:

Others worry the Afghan economy will collapse if foreign aid dries up.

There is little doubt that the coalition demand for goods and services has inflated prices in Afghanistan.  Many planners assume a decrease in such costs when the ‘big money’ leaves which will stretch the foreign aid dollars provided.  I’m not an economist but this may not happen as hoped; rapid deflation will result in a decrease in purchasing power leaving merchants unable to sell their products, unable to buy new product, unable to pay their employees.  The result is a downward spiraling economy (F.A. Hayek is rolling over in his grave after that analysis).

Another common perception is that the Afghans that assisted the U.S. and Coalition in any way will be the first targets when security decreases and the Taliban or Haqqani Network moves to restore their prominence in the country.  The one silver lining of announcing a withdrawal date is that those friendly (or at least neutral) to the U.S. have a chance of survival by preparing now. 

In any case, while the numbers in Afghanistan of those that like us will decrease significantly after we leave, the number of people that don’t like us will probably remain unchanged.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

–Shakespeare, As You Like It

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