View Full Version : Ending the Agony: Seven Moves to Stabilize Afghanistan

03-09-2010, 11:25 PM
A Canadian think tank report 'Ending the Agony: Seven Moves to Stabilize Afghanistan' written by Christopher Alexander, a former Canadian diplomat and was the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Afghanistan from December 2005 until May 2009.

This paper proposes seven policy initiatives designed to refocus Afghanistan’s domestic reform agenda, overcome post-electoral distrust, and lay the groundwork for a re-galvanized partnership or compact between the Afghan government and international Community.

1. Hold Credible Elections
2. Plan Together
3. Renew the Public Service
4. Empower the Provinces
5. Reintegrate the Taliban Base
6. End Interference
7. Attack Impunity


Laudable aims and from a civilian "boot" on the ground, OK in Kabul, worth a read IMHO. Sadly the latest antics in Kabul over the Election Commission changes do not augur well for anyone in Kabul to listen and take any such action.

Does the current 'new' McCrystal strategy match such aims?

03-10-2010, 02:26 AM
Does the current 'new' McCrystal strategy match such aims?

Laudable goals, yes, but if we expect McChrystal's strategy to address or achieve these goals, we're expecting way too much. I can't see the logic in asking a military force and/or a military commander to create credible elections, renew the public service, empower the provinces, etc: these are matters that the Afghan Government and civilian advisers from those supporting the Afghan Government have to manage.

All we can reasonably ask the military to do is to provide the time window for the civilian side to address these goals, and to suppress the insurgency to an extent that challenges the perception that the Taliban are ultimately going to win. Of course that's only half the battle, and to win the war the civilian side has to step up and deliver on their side as well, but it's the only half that we can reasonably expect the military force to accomplish.

Reading this gives me a feeling that I often get when reading ICG documents... they always have wonderful recommendations for all parties concerned, but you always close the document with the sense that if the parties concerned had the capacity to meet those recommendations there wouldn't be any need to make them. The problem isn't that the people involved don't know what needs to be done, the problem is that they can't or won't do it.

Bob's World
03-10-2010, 09:09 AM
1. Hold Credible Elections.............Good Governance.......... ("legitimacy, vehicle for change")
2. Plan Together........................Good Governance........... ("respect, legitimacy")
3. Renew the Public Service..........Effective Governance..... X
4. Empower the Provinces............Good Governance........... ("legitimacy, respect")
5. Reintegrate the Taliban Base.....Good Governance.......... ("legitmacy, respect, justice")
6. End Interference.....................Good Governance.......... ("legitimacy")
7. Attack Impunity......................Good Governance.......... ("justice")

I would re-order their list, but they do strike in the beaten zone of what I consider the causal perceptions of insurgency / "Good Governance." (I.e. Perceptions among the populace of Legitimacy of their governance, respect and justice from their governance, and a trusted and certain legal vehicle to effect change of governance).

1. Plan Together (Ok this is first, but also continuous throughout, with outsiders getting ever closer to the back of the room)
2. Reintegrate the Taliban Base
3. Conduct some credible (trusted by this populace and unmanipulated by outside or inside powerbrokers to the degree expected by the populace) process of leadership selection
4. Empower the Provinces
5. Attack Impunity
6. End interference
7. Renew the public service

03-10-2010, 09:30 AM
I wrote earlier:
Does the current 'new' McCrystal strategy match such aims?

The penalty of writing late, I meant to say 'Does the current 'new' McCrystal strategy enable such aims?' With a realistic prospect of Afghan acceptance and fulfilment.

From this faraway "armchair" I have my doubts that the strategy will work and secondly the Afghan state shows no sign of following the 'Seven moves' in reality.

I am mindful of the recent loss of discipline of the ANA in Marjah, with the reported looting of the market. Which at a stroke must have ended any prospect of local acceptance of the ANA. How the locals react to ANCOP is a moot point.

An indication of the local, Marjah mood is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=9953

Bob's World
03-10-2010, 12:40 PM

A recent update is that "ANCOP" is now named "AG" for Afghan Gendarmerie.

Steve the Planner
03-10-2010, 07:00 PM
I watch these examples, Now Zad, Marjah, and it just doesn't add up to anything, yet.

Can't do credible elections at the national level without a loya jirga to change the constitution. Looong processsss!!!

At the local level, you have to first stabilize the population/economy first, lure back the 25,000 refugees, then figure out the right way they want to appoint somebody to do something---unclear what yet.

Sec. Gates was all smiles at Now Zad, but it must be deeply troubling to have committed so many resources, and it is still a town with 1,000 stragglers (probably half are there for the relief payments), and a quiet market place. Did we kill the patience to cure the disease, or was the place already dead before we got there?

Marjah is a whole different crop of issues---how to create positive change in a poppy economy without opening the doors to the crooks?

No small challenge. How about three steps that could be effected immediately to stabilize things, then see what next steps are possible?

03-11-2010, 08:40 PM
1. Hold Credible Elections - Most people don't seem to care too much about elections; legitimate figures here don't need votes.
2. Plan Together - Who is included in together - how about we plan with people whom locals listen to as opposed to people they hate or fear?
3. Renew the Public Service - What public service? Is there a public service to renew? Is there anything for a public service to service? I guess picking up garbage that locals throw everywhere could be a start.
4. Empower the Provinces - For many, District is big government; province and Kabul could be on the moon for them.
5. Reintegrate the Taliban Base - Yes, especially since everyone is somehow related to someone in the Taliban Base - infact, you'd probably be accurate if you labelled the provinces of RC (S) as "The Taliban Base".
6. End Interference - Okay, although many don't need Pakistan to get them riled up at times around these parts.
7. Attack Impunity - Yes; from below, not above.

I would be happy with a list of 3:

1. Reinvigrorate the key leaders at the village level and make those above responsible to them;
2. Reintegrate the Taliban Base;
3. Focus all efforts on micro-improvements; locals don't see much beyond the next grapefield. A well could win where the Dalla Dam won't.

Steve the Planner
03-12-2010, 12:48 AM

Your three look about right, and should take about a year to do well in enough places.