Afghanistan: February 23, 2005


The government said that it would consider approving long term arrangements for American bases once the parliament is elected later this year. However, American strategy towards overseas bases has been changing over the last decade. Now, the concept is to have fewer troops overseas, and more arrangements to use airbases and ports in foreign countries. Airbase access is essential for Afghanistan, which has no ports. Right now, the U.S. depends on three main airbases (outside Kabul, Kandahar and Herat) to get people and material in and out of the country. So American "bases" would consist of Afghan airbases, built with the help of American money, used most of the time for civilian traffic, but available, by treaty, for American military transports and warplanes. American troops in the country would probably not amount to more than a few thousand, if that.  Many Afghans want a long term presence of  American troops, who are seen by most Afghans as friends, and a force that helps keep the peace. The United States also wants a presence in Afghanistan, in case something blows up in the other 'stans (Uzbekistan and so on) to the north. These four countries, formerly parts of the Soviet Union, have been taken over by former Soviet officials, who now run things as dictators. Islamic radicals, and other types of resistance groups, provide the potential for more disorder. 


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