There is an ongoing question amongst military blogs, foreign policy journals, and the administration itself on what should we be doing in Afghanistan? But, that isn't the full question. To assume there is a question such as what should we be doing, it is assuming that we have first answered the question of how do you "fix" Afghanistan.
Now I put "fix" in those quotations because that is a very loose word to use. But, probably the easiest to get our minds around. There are probably some fancy big PHD words that could be inserted, but what it all boils down to is; how do we fix the problem(s)?
I could list out a laundry list of issues to dive into. But, this is not my thesis I'm writing. Actually this is part of my thesis but trust me, that is long enough, I don't need to replicate that length here. That and its not that good...yet. But, I digress. I am going to concentrate on one issue here, local governance.
I choose local governance for a number of reasons. One, the tribal system has been weakened significantly in many areas of the country from the last three decades of warfare. This has bred two situations for the Taliban to take advantage of. First, the Taliban has been able to outright overcome weakened tribal systems and take their place. Two, in areas of multiple weakened tribes, they are able to play them off of one another, or cause coalitions to form and pit them in that way against one another. In both of these examples that has provided an opportunity for the Taliban to exert influence over the people.
Second, the Government of Afghanistan is a central unitary government. Most of the concentration has been on developing the governance at this level. The Provinces, Districts, and then local village level were given priority for support and assistance in that order for many years. This has created a situation where leadership at the local level is either non-existent in an official status or in hiding because of lack of security. This again, has developed a situation, where the Taliban has been able to apply pressure and provide local leadership to the people. In a vacuum the people have gone with whoever is there.
Third, most of the financial support, aid, and revenue is concentrated at the central governance level in Afghanistan. This has led to a situation where financial aid and support is not reaching the local level with any degree of efficiency. In addition, the revenue sharing between the central government and the Provinces, and Districts is almost non-existent. This leads to a situation where one, there is not a consistent stream of money to plan for development from; and two, the people begin to feel that they have no say in the usage of the money. Finally, the people begin to have an attitude that the government can not provide for them. In that vacuum, again, the Taliban have arrived and exploited them with providing money, and jobs in the form of Poppy Farming.
With this being said, I would list my major "thing" to "fix" in Afghanistan as providing, mentoring, securing, and training local governance. By strengthening the local governance and tribal systems you take away that opportunity for the Taliban to use against us. Second you begin to provide an apparatus to provide penetration for the government and revenue sharing down to local level. This both takes away this opportunity from the Taliban to exploit, and provides for long term stability.
In addition I would advise a more Federal System of Government for Afghanistan, with autonomous areas. But, truth be told, that is my thesis and it needs much more development. But, when I have finished it, and it is approved and I have successfully defended it, I will publish it here.
God Bless America
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