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16 December 2010


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The CNAS folks are idiots, yes, but well paid.

For a realistic view on Afghanistan read the Afghanistan Analyst Network blog. Realist folks on the ground.

This by Kate Clark from Kabul today (she is usually in some other province there):

In the last nine years, civilians who welcomed deployments of ISAF in the hope they would limit the power of local militias have watched as the foreigners have routinely allied themselves with Afghan strongmen at various levels, allowing them to consolidate their power through lucrative contracts for security and logistics or recognising those self-same same militias as ‘local police’. The foreigners are understandably seen as complicit in the crimes of their allies. Always the immediate attractions of force protection (of the foreign troops) or of allies who promise to be able to hunt down Taleban trump justice, but with horrible long-term consequences.
In every country, the sense of injustice has a visceral motivating power, but this is especially true in Afghanistan, where justice has historically been tied to state legitimacy and where there is ample precedent for armed resistance in the face of perceived wrongs. The Taleban have exploited the justice deficit to the full, using it in their propaganda to deride president Karzai and his foreign backers, and as often the only service the movement provides to civilians in areas under its control is in the form of Taleban courts.
Principles of rule of law and human rights, of civil and political rights have been developed over the centuries to stop states becoming predatory. Sidelining them has allowed a predatory state to develop and thrive. The lack of a clear strategy to address injustice is almost equivalent to the lack of a strategy for the internal political aspects of the insurgency – the abandonment of arguably the single most important battlefield of the conflict to the Taleban. Until this is fixed, arguing over how many foreign troops to deploy and how best to fight the Taleban will remain absolutely pointless.

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