Thursday, February 4, 2010

Winning Afghan hearts and minds -- a better strategy

After more than eight years of war in Afghanistan, many Americans -- including politicians and military leaders -- have begun to question whether military action really offers any solution.

In this remarkably clear-cut piece today, Hekmat Karzai, director of the Center for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul, and US Congressman Michael Honda (D-CA), argue that the Afghan people know exactly what's needed to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the country. This includes an investment in and cooperation with local companies rather than foreign corporations, more training and payment for Afghan soldiers, an end to collaboration with extremely corrupt warlords (allowing most Afghan civilians to again trust our efforts, especially as we continue to criticize President Karzai for his corruption).
"Afghans want better delivery of services, professional and competent appointments, and minimal bureaucracy within the government, all of which reduces corruption...The key to the main challenges facing the country is to build Afghan acceptance and ownership. When 80 per cent of all foreign aid dollars circumvents the Afghan government entirely, and when the same amount leaves the country in contractor hands not Afghan ones, locals question the motive of the US."
Of course, Afghanistan is a sovereign nation -- why do innocent Afghans have no say in America's role there? As the authors point out, we must begin listening to them.


  1. i think the message is just now starting to get through