Basically, the report argues that building a good rail, road, and energy transit network, based on the old "Silk Road" is the key to sustainable peace because restoring Afghanistan's historic role in regional trade is the only way to develop the country's economy and thus provide long term resource streams for continued security.
The paper starts with an examination of current infrastructure and ongoing improvement projects. Judging these efforts insufficient, the authors argue that:
While the Modern Silk Road represents the best hope for the long-term stabilization of Afghanistan, two common misconceptions have been allowed to prevent the realization of this goal: namely, that the main reasons for Afghanistan‘s failure to breakthrough to rapid development are, first, the absence of security there and, second, its poor infrastructure (25).They add that:
There is widespread consensus that the biggest obstacles to transcontinental trade are institutional, bureaucratic, and political. The most common of these obstacles are excessive duties imposed by governments, simple corruption on the part of border officials, and the failure of bordering states to cooperate to facilitate trade (26).These barriers to trade therefore need to be dismantled and the authors recommend that the US take a leading role in encouraging and supporting Afghanistan and neighboring countries in doing so. The authors recommend starting with the road network, then propose improvements to the rail network and then focus on building Afghan capacity to transport energy. To guarantee success, they propose the appointment of a dedicated presidential envoy and corresponding interagency task force. Both would work within the US and with international partners.
This is a very general summary of course but I thought it was an interesting report. I'm not sure it's all that revolutionary and parts of it strike me as a bit simplistic. I'm also not sure I want a "Presidential Envoy for the Silk Road Strategy" (or whatever it would be called). What do you all think?