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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How can we help the Afghans best help themselves?

What many people don't know is that it was not that America did not love the idea of the liberal elite concept of "nation building" and was never to be part of the process of invasion or reconstruction.  

The Bush admin felt that it didn't need to nation build and if a country was truly free it would build itself.  They were so against the concept of nation building that they felt that the ISAF troop currently located in and around Kabul (in 2003 and 2004) would be a hindrance to the US troops looking for al Qeada and the Taliban.  The US restricted the movement of the ISAF troops as the Taliban and Al Qeada fighters returned home.  In December 2005 Def Sec Rumsfled even wanted to remove US troops (1/6th of his fighting force) from Afghanistan as it was felt there was no fight in Afghanistan and the situation was contained. Thankfully the troops never did leave.

By the summer of 2006 US, Dutch and Canadian forces would kill and capture over 1000 Taliban fighters poised to take the capital of Kandahar province (op Medusa).  The war was hardly over and it in fact had been simmering for some time and now it was to explode.

So only 4 years after the war started was ISAF allowed to take part in the missions and seeing the US reluctance to put its own troops at risk (as they were dealing with the Iraq problem) many countries made a commitment to Afghan that could have been stronger.  They also saw that US government was uninterested in the Afghan problem and thought that this was and always would be the small fish to fry.  

The Taliban who once trained foreign fighters in the Hindu kush now went to Iraq and trained on the new tactics of the new jihad.... IED and suicide bombing.  They learned off the best and soon ISAF, Afghans and civilians would be dying left and right.  All for mistakes that were seen , that were explained and were vocalized and yet no one listened.

What is the message we can learn?

How can we help the Afghans best help themselves?

In the most simplest terms had these things been done early on in the campaign the war in Afghanistan could be over.  This could be the exit strategy.

1. Make a supreme commander like an Eisenhower and give him direction on the special forces and the ISAF forces, border patrol and even with some elements within the Pakistan army that borders the Afk Pak areas.  (Gen Petreaus would be the most obvious choice but, there are many other just as capable)

2. Start training and equipping the warlords gangs and thugs and make them as the nexus of the Afghan army and through regular militarization, good pay, good equipment and good training and they may do well.

3. Start the Afghan National Police almost from scratch but, use local city Marshall's and deputies that know the towns they live in as a cork bottle on the ANP.
(think sheriff and deputies and the RCMP as the national force)

4. Strong judiciary that utilizes local customs and elders in the decision making process, but all based on the Afghan constitution.

5.  Engage the local Afghans in the getting the foreign forces to leave (which is always a long standing gripe) by having them engage in government, engage in rejecting extremism and help the local (trusted) forces take care of the problem and those can be the Sheriff, the ANP, the ANA, ISAF or US forces.

6. Ensure the computer networks systems are run and well protected.  The freedom revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt started through simple social media and that level of knowledge can continue to Afghan society.  The Taliban may use media and computers to get their messages across but they don't want anyone Else's messages to be revived.  Computers in schools wi fi in school and police stations and fire halls and government buildings and even in public spaces.   These are the things that produce more results than bombs bullets or even food.

7.  Stop the poppy eradication's and pay for the crop and secure the crop to companies like Pfizer or hospitals to be made in opiate based drugs.  Then encourage high value crops that give the Afghans and their distributors fair share of the payment structure and fair market value for their products.

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