Thursday, October 30, 2003
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Nation-building in Afghanistan
The Chicago Tribune reports on the latest success in restoring stability to Afghanistan, courtesy of a British-led Provincial reconstruction team. The vital grafs:
This follows up on previous Tribune reports indicating that PRTs can succeed in the nitty-gritty of stabilization.
For those readers skeptical of nation-building -- think of it as town-building.posted by Dan on 10.30.03 at 09:05 AM
I agree that such nation-building is going on, but I continually fear that the political situation will do things in. Yesterday saw the UN confirm that the Taliban is now actually asserting control of territory in the south, and there are serious fears that the rapidly expanding opium trade could lead to new turmoil inspired by warlords-turned-druglords. If the mujahadeen, who have formed a party of their own and intend to challenge Karzai, decide not to accept the 2004 election, we could easily see a resumption of the civil war which undoes all this.posted by: Brian Ulrich on 10.30.03 at 09:05 AM [permalink]
There have also been reports of corrupt or wasteful aid spending. Aid workers in big new cars and the like. The State Department ordered the speeding up of a road's construction to meet an artificial deadline that had been proposed- even if it meant degrading the quality of the road.
The PRT's seem universally well received and judged capable of turning things around. The NATO expansion may be just in the nick of time. The moves to try to force some of the Warlords out of the central government are also overdue but welcome nonetheless.
The clock is ticking and if things go sour as the previous poster indicated so well, then the people of Afghanistan could lose faith in the international community and go back to each man for himself.
What a black eye that would be for the USA - if Afghanistan disintegrated into civil war and Iraq degenerated into a quagmire. It would present a serious long term national security threat as well as exhausting us and making us look like bloody fools. The wolves would start circling at the smell of blood.posted by: Oldman on 10.30.03 at 09:05 AM [permalink]
Brian-- I doubt that any of the warlords will reject the 2004 election; something like that happening would be minimal. Abdul Rashid Dostum has re-started his own old political party, Jombesh-i-Milli Islami (National Islamic Movement) that, despite its name, is politically challenging the Northern Alliance's hegemony. Instead of a show-down between Karzai and the warlords, I'd expect a military clash between Fahim's Northern Alliance and Dostum. And there's the instability in the southern provinces (Zabul, Paktika, Paktia, Samangan, Kandahar) which would make an election there simply impossible. Voter registration has started in Kabul and the surrounding provinces and it's not clear what regions are next.
Daniel seems to be optimistic, but take Bamyian for example. A PRT-team from New Zealand arrived there a couple of months ago. The reaction? Dissappointment. Bamyian's an impoverished area, with Taliban re-grouping in neighbouring provinces.posted by: Arash on 10.30.03 at 09:05 AM [permalink]
The PRT a success? Huh? My experience with them for the last 10 months has been that they are a futile waste of money pursuing public relations goals with no clear idea of exactly what 'nation building' is or how one goes about it. The simple fact is that it is done by the nation itself, not soldiers.
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