A number of people have asked questions of me via email about my post, "Why Afghanistan Matters" a few days ago. Comments from it have even been featured in a number of other blogs, of which I am very honored about. But, to get to some of the questions surrounding Afghanistan:
The first one I received was a question regarding why do we have to do this only as a military, what about State and USAID, our allies, and the UN. My answer is yes to all of the above. When I talk about the fact I firmly and completely believe that we must finish the mission in Afghanistan, I am discussing the Ends. In simpler terms, the end-state of the mission. The end-state is a separate issue, that I will address next, but just stay with me for a moment.
The End-State is finishing our mission in Afghanistan. How we do that is not just a military issue. The ways and means in which we accomplish that must incorporate all elements of our National Power; the diplomatic, information, military, and economic all working in concert. Afghanistan is not a military problem alone. State, USAID, DEA, DOE, and all of the remainder of our three letter agencies must be completely involved. On top of that ISAF is not a US Command. It is a NATO Command. That means that our allies must be involved. In addition to NATO, other nation-states in the region must be involved. Finally, the UN and its agencies must be involved. That is the only way we will achieve success; working within a unity of effort of all those groups and synchronizing ourselves to achieve our end-state.
But, as I said that leads to a much more complex and complicated question. What is our end-state? That is an answer that needs to be examined. People like to throw out words like stabile, secure, and prosperous. Well, tell me what those mean for the Afghans. In other words, "Tell Me How This Ends." We must be much more specific in our discussions of the end-state. We must firmly say what is our desired and tolerated end-states, and we must be very precise. We must also understand that any end-state that we desire must be in accordance with what the Afghans themselves want and is within the propensity of their system to achieve.
Once we have laid that out, then we should go back and decide what is going to be our logic of transformation that brings the current system that is Afghanistan to the desired system. That is deciding our ways and means. Which resources are we going to use. USAID will be doing this, State will do that, the Military will accomplish this. They will have these resources, and operate upon these lines of effort to achieve it. That is how we must understand this problem.
The final question asked has been one of governance in Afghanistan. I could write about that for days since it is also the Thesis I am working on right now for my Masters. But, I digress. Beyond the election issues, beyond the corruption claims, I am a firm believer that focusing a great deal of effort upon the central government is counter-productive. That a federal system of governance with autonomous areas that allows for greater concentration of effort and building at the local level is the best course of action. I am not going to go into much more detail on that one, since in about a month when the Thesis is complete, I will post a link to it on the web for you to read if you would like.
But, no matter what form of government exists, we must go forward within our lines of effort concentrating at the local level within Afghanistan. The local village and district level is where this effort is going to be won or lost, and GEN McChrystal realizes that.
God Bless America
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