Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In discussing COIN and stability ops in general, a lot of references are made to reestablishing effective governance without defining what that means except in the vaguest terms. Although just one among many over the last several years, this article in the Christian Science Monitor illustrates the dynamics particularly clearly.
Land disputes are the starting point for a lot of violence in Afghanistan - and Congo, and Sudan, and the rest of the developing world, for that matter. And those disputes provide opportunities that the Taliban have proven adept at exploiting, either by resolving or manipulating the resulting divisions.
Despite knowing this, and nearly a decade into the effort, we still struggle to set up even the simplest credible dispute resolution mechanisms. I don't mean an elaborate and fully developed national justice system: I mean local adjudicative bodies that have local legitimacy that need to be backed by our (or where, possible, GIRoA) firepower to enforce their decisions and protect them from being assassinated.
This isn't to suggest that military control of territory and population, building effective local security forces, or tackling corruption aren't just as important (or more, depending phase of operations in a given area). But it seems that as we've come to realize that development assistance is of limited utility in winning Afghans over to our side, we're a bit stymied as to what 'effective governance' means in concrete terms. Seems like solving local land disputes would be an excellent place to start.