Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ahmed Rashid Column on "How to End the War in Afghanistan"

Ahmed Rashid has a new column today, posted on the BBC website.

He argues that the London Conference has united the international community around the idea that it needs to "provide sufficient security for development while at the same time allowing foreign forces to leave."

He then discusses who has been talking with the Taliban, how much, and for what reasons.

The column ends with this:

"Nato's job in this surge of commitment is to make sure that the Afghans do not just increase their dependency on the West, but actually take charge, become responsible and make themselves accountable for their actions.

President Karzai should realise this is a tougher job than talking to the Taliban."

Go take a look. Overall, I found it disjointed--thoughts?

13 comments:

  1. Lil:

    To be curt, yes, disjointed, although I think Rashid has the ability of a talented journalist - and displays it here - to turn it, if ever so barely, into a coherent article. Basically, each section of Rashid's article could be an article unto itself. I don't know if space constraints or something else forced him to compress his writing. But within the compact piece are a lot of ideas, even if they are, indeed, disjointed.
    ADTS

    ReplyDelete
  2. ADTS--nice to see you here!

    Agreed. There's a lot in there but every time he started getting somewhere, it seemed like he was being yanked to something else. Maybe the BBC couldn't convince him to do a series.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nato's job in this surge of commitment is to make sure that the Afghans do not just increase their dependency on the West, but actually take charge, become responsible and make themselves accountable for their actions.

    Oh wait, THAT's all we have to do? Shit, why didn't we think of that before now?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Gulliver,this is what I was getting at with disjointed. I understand the desire to mention many things but I thought the column ended up not saying much at all. For example, accountability is pretty straightforward. Building accountability has implications ranging from the constitutional and legal to the procedural and bureaucratic. Within these categories, again, there are pretty clear ways to build accountability. My impression though is that what's difficult is figuring out the small steps that are required on a daily basis to achieve accountability on these different levels in each particular context.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Win which war? The war between ISAF and the Taliban? Here's a novel approach to ending that war: leave.

    Why are we there?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Because the uncertain risks of leaving outweigh the uncertain risks of staying. I presume your question is mostly rhetorical and you don't want to rehash the entire debate.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Because the uncertain risks of leaving outweigh the uncertain risks of staying.

    In the minds of some, and for reasons that they haven't articulated in a very clear or convincing fashion. Don't forget that part.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Lil-

    I think one very important point that the author missed is timing of negotiations. In a tribal society, at least in my experience, the conversation is less about the words and more about your position of power.

    The Taliban is stepping up the war this year. Casualties will rise. If we attempt to negotiate during a perceived period of weakness, then the treaties will likely not hold or be very unfavorable towards US national security interest.

    On the other hand, if we have success during the Surge of demonstrating levels of violence to disrupt/destroy significant guerilla infrastructure, training camps, supply lines, etc..., then we may get the Taliban to come to the table a bit humbled.

    In some cases, the application of violene is the panacea that secures the populace in the long term. This may be one of those cases. If not, then we could face perpetual war in that land.

    Thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Gulliver - well, you know I am among the 'some', and just because you didn't find my arguments convincing doesn't mean they weren't clear.

    ReplyDelete
  10. In some cases, the application of violene is the panacea that secures the populace in the long term.

    Mike - I'd differ with you slightly, and suggest that violence sets the conditions to secure the populace in the long term. It's a necessary but insufficient element.

    ReplyDelete
  11. MK-

    Yeah, panacea is too strong of a word. I need to get a new dictionary :).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mike--have to agree with MK on panacea but otherwise, agreed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. MK,
    My question was rhetorical, though my point was probably not clear. I merely posed the question because it seems to be an alternative that nobody has seriously pondered. (No, I'm not looking to rehash the debate or re-explain in the comments of this thread... but if you're looking for a topic for an upcoming thread...)

    ReplyDelete