Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Fourth Afghan War

Two quite thoughtful pieces of journalism in recent days on what has gone wrong in Afghanistan. In the 5 Sep New York Times, David Rohde reports from Lashkah Gah, "An Afghan symbol for change, then failure"(with Carlotta Gall contributing from Kabul). And in Financial Times, also on 5 Sep, Rachel Morarjee writes that Afghanistan is on course for failure:
"The invasion of Iraq in 2003 drew attention, money and troops away from Afghanistan as the job of reconstruction was just beginning. The 'sexier aspects of state-building', namely drafting a constitution and holding elections, were the first to be accomplished, [Francesc] Vendrell [special representative of the European Union in Afghanistan] points out. The more painstaking business of paying a police force, training a judiciary and building a competent civil service fell by the wayside, as did channelling aid money in a manner that would create jobs for nskilled labourers".
But Rohde and Gall's report suggests that it may not have been so much that the less sexy aspects of state-building fell by the wayside as that they were poorly managed, not to say messed up. The key failure -- d'oh and double d'oh -- was a failure to establish security.

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