Afghanistan: September 5, 2003

Archives

Afghans complain of the slow pace of reconstruction, but the biggest problem is the Afghans themselves. The corruption is so extensive that any money provided for rebuilding must be watched very carefully. Otherwise, most of it will disappear, sometimes in clever ways. While outright theft sometimes occurs, sweetheart contracts (an official granting a contract to a company he owns a piece of) and paying lots of money for little performance (with most of the money being "profit" for the corrupt official) are more common. Tribes and local warlords are not bashful about asking for payoffs to guarantee aid workers, and reconstruction workers, safety. There are a lot of senior Afghan officials who are honest, but they are not in complete control. Too many other Afghans tolerate the corruption, and want a piece of it.

While the Taliban make good headlines, they are not the real threat to the future in Afghanistan. Warlords, corruption, tribalism and drug gangs are more likely to drag the country back into civil war and chaos. The solution is to train professional soldiers,  police and government officials and use them to impose control on all parts of the country. The problem is that you cannot create these professionals immediately. It takes months and years. But each month, there are more trained Afghans that the central government can use to exercise control over another part of the country. But the tribes, warlords and drug gangs resist, and will resist fiercely when they feel threatened. The Pushtun tribes, who comprise about 40 percent of the population, already feel threatened. The Pushtuns have always had most of the key offices in the central government. Moreover, some of the Pushtun tribes provided the leadership for the Taliban. But the current central government, even though it is led by a prominent Pushtun tribal leader, contains more non-Pushtuns than most Pushtun tribesmen consider fair. 

Even demining operations are subject to shakedowns and extortion. This despite the fact that at least a hundred Afghans are killed or wounded each month by old Russian mines.

The Taliban are trying to use the same tactics against US and Afghan troops they used against the Russians in the 1980s. This means small groups of gunmen moving through the mountains and making attacks. But the problem is that they are facing the kind of professional American and Afghan troops that gave them the most troubles in the 1980s when the Russians sent in their commandos. During the 1980s, most of the Russian casualties were among the mainly conscript (and poorly trained and led) troops. There are none of these, and none of the large Russian convoys moving all over the country. The Taliban have few targets, and a foe who usually outfights them.

 

Article Archive

Afghanistan: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close