Afghanistan? Don Ritter believes (along with Messrs.
Gorbachev, Shevardnadze, Gromov et al) that without the Afghan
War and the sacrifice of some 1.5 million Afghan people killed,
the Soviet Union and most likely global Communism itself, would
not have fallen. For this contribution to humankind, he believes
that the Afghan people deserve our undying support to assist them
in making their nation whole, stable and free to define their
own course into the future.
Don Ritter and Afghanistan
• Founding Director – Afghan American Chamber of Commerce
(AACC), 2001 - present; Senior Advisor AACC, 2004-2005; Currently
– member of AACC Executive Committee of Board of Directors
An Architect of the Afghan International Chamber of Commerce (AICC),
2003; Senior Advisor, AICC, 2004 - present
Business developer and businessman, Kabul, Panjshir, Herat, Afghanistan,
2003 - present
Founding Chairman – Afghanistan Foundation, 1996 - 2003
In Congress, Representing PA-15 (1979-1993): Chairman of Congressional
Task Force on Afghanistan, 1985 -1989
Congress, 1979 - 1993: Don Ritter’s experience
with Afghanistan goes back almost 28 years to the Soviet Union’s
invasion of that country in 1979. Don spent the next 10 years
in Congress helping the Afghan people evict the Soviet invaders.
Dr. Ritter had been a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) post-Doctoral
“Exchange Fellow” in the USSR in 1966-67, spoke fluent
Russian and had extensive background in Russian culture and history.
He authored seminal “Material Assistance” legislation
in the Congress (Ritter-Tsongas), created the Congressional Task
Force on Afghanistan ((Ritter-Humphrey) to promote such “material
assistance” of all kinds to the Afghan resistance and used
his ranking position on the Congressional Helsinki Commission
to call attention to the destruction of the very fabric of Afghan
life and society by the Soviets.
Afghanistan, Don’s congressional career was highlighted
by consistent effort to ‘diminish’ the power and influence
of the former-USSR.
Afghanistan Foundation: Informing U.S. Afghanistan Policy-making
(1996 - 2003): Congressman Ritter in the mid-1990’s
along with a distinguished group of Afghan Americans created the
Afghanistan Foundation (AF) which was virtually alone in expressing
alarm at the highest levels of the U.S. government about the radical
downhill slide into failed statehood that was Afghanistan at the
time. U.S. Afghanistan policy hearings were held: Afghanistan’s
President Hamid Karzai was first publicly introduced to the U.S.
policy leadership community at an AF event in the U.S. Capitol;
then Rand Corporation strategist and former U. S. Ambassador and
to Afghanistan and then Iraq, now, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.,
Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, was an AF Board member and led a distinguished
team in a research and writing project (also incl. Dr’s.
Gouttierre, Krakowski, Byman and Eighmy) plus Dr. Ritter that
produced the 1999 White Paper, U.S. Policy in Afghanistan: Challenges
and Solutions, which proposed a series of graduated U.S. policy
initiatives to act against the growing Taliban threat.
recommendations were at the heart of U.S. Afghanistan policy development
immediately prior to 9-11.
a New Afghanistan by Promoting the Private Sector and a Market
Economy, 9-11 - present: More recently, Dr. Ritter was
a Founding Board member of the AACC and today serves on the executive
committee of their Board of Directors. He led an AACC team in
the development of the proposal for the USAID-funded Afghan International
Chamber of Commerce, AICC where AACC is the U.S. “affiliate”.
He currently serves as the Senior Advisor to AICC in the development
of strategies, plans, programs and tactics and in the execution
of AICC initiatives. He has spent substantial time in Afghanistan
since September 11, 2001. Don has written numerous op-eds with
Afghan colleagues on the subject of the Afghan private sector.
Don is the
U.S. investor and Chairman of the U.S. – Afghan company
that built and operates the most modern laundry and dry cleaning
plant in the region to serve the population of Kabul and execute
military and government contracts. He is also currently engaged
in building a mountain lodge tourism industry in the Panjshir
Valley, a mini-mill for steel products for the Afghan construction
boom in Herat, a business development services company in Kabul
and an Afghan-American prime contractor to compete for large construction
Don has published
numerous op-eds on the private sector and market economy development
for Afghanistan: Don and colleagues believe that a robust
and independent, job-creating private sector is the key to the
future of Afghanistan; that the economy of the country and security
are intimately linked. He has personally led an AACC/AICC investment
strategy for Americans to invest in Afghanistan by finding competent,
communications capable and trustworthy Afghan partners to invest
in new businesses in Afghanistan.
believes there is great opportunity in Afghanistan if the right
economic policies of the Afghan government and donor nations are
National Environmental Policy Institute, NEPI, 1993 - 2002: For
ten years after leaving Congress, he served as Chairman and President
of the National Environmental Policy Institute (NEPI). NEPI was
the cutting edge of environmental policy changes in the 1990s
that sought greater involvement of States and localities in national
policy making. NEPI pioneered the use of risk assessment and peer-reviewed
science in the regulatory decision process. Don’s aim was
to replace some of the Washington-based politicized environmental
decision making with more fact, common sense and science by engaging
an expanded, less partisan contingent of citizens and decision-makers
from the States, cities and localities.
U.S. Congress: non - Afghanistan Activity, 1979 - 1993:
After defeating a 16 year incumbent, Don represented the Lehigh
Valley (Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton area) of PA. As a long-term
and senior member of the Energy and Commerce and Science and Technology
Committees, Don sought to bring a greater degree of science to
the legislative process and was often referred to by peers as
a “scientist-Congressman”. His district had a substantial
industrial and University constituency with the former relating
to regulation and the latter to research. He was also a champion
of human rights and an arch foe of the Soviet expansionist activity,
not only regarding Afghanistan but also Cuba-Central America,
Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and Ukraine. In addition to
his service on the Cong. Helsinki Commission, he was the Founding
Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Baltic States and Ukraine.
Substantial numbers of Hungarian, Polish, Slovakia and Ukrainian-Americans
resided in his district.
Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA: Teaching, Research and Administration,
1969 -1979: He served on the Lehigh University faculty
and in research administration as well as a consultant to manufacturing
industry for ten years prior to going to Congress.
National Academy of Sciences – Soviet Academy of Sciences
Exchange Fellow, 1966 - 1967: Did Post-Doctoral research
at the Baikov Institute for Metallurgy in Moscow, USSR
Don holds a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Lehigh University
and a M.S. and Sc. D. (Doctorate) from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, M.I.T, in Physical Metallurgy and Materials Science.
011 93 (0) 799 170 969 - Afghanistan