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O.C. Reps, Business Leaders Talk Afghanistan

Jul 29, 2010

Washington, Jul 29, 2010 - Two Orange County congressmen joined business leaders at a symposium in Washington on Thursday focusing on guiding Afghanistan to peace by establishing commercial ventures.

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce spoke about the future of Afghanistan at “Peace Through Prosperity,” a gathering of two dozen entrepreneurs and policymakers, organized by Laguna Hills businessman Hasan Nouri.

Nouri, who grew up and studied civil engineering in Afghanistan before moving to Orange County, lived through good and bad times in the embattled country and has come to believe that the only way to attain permanent peace there was through capitalism.

In 2008, he helped found the New World Strategic Coalition, a nonprofit group based in Fremont, which attempts to support successful business ventures in Afghanistan that will show the population a fruitful alternative to the oppression of the Taliban.

Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, who has long been involved in foreign policy, particularly regarding Afghanistan, called the Afghan people “courageous” and “smart,” and praised their integrity. He said the United States has a responsibility to help them rebuild their nation. But he said that support must be economic and educational.

“There is no military solution,” he said.

His fellow senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee agreed, noting that the brunt of the work must be done by the Afghan people.

“It’s only from internal pressure that you’re going to get change,” said Royce, R-Fullerton. “The responsibility is going to be on the Afghans to determine the course of events there.”

After speaking, the congressmen listened to various business proposals by the assembled entrepreneurs. The ideas mainly focused on renewable energy solutions, ranging from small dams and hydro power initiatives to light bulbs and solar power projects.

There are tremendous opportunities in Afghanistan for entrepreneurs, Nouri said.

The day-long gathering was as much about American and Afghani entrepreneurs meeting to each other as listening to the actual proposals, Nouri said. He added that Americans have a responsibility to help Afghanistan because the small country helped bring down the Soviet Union and communism in the 1980’s.

“No nation in the world has given more to the United States of America than Afghanistan,” he said.

Original article: OC Register