WHY we haven't achieved world peace.
HOW we achieve it.
WHAT we should expect once we get there.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Treat Afghanistan like Bosnia

The problem with Afghanistan today is that no one country and/or alliance of countries, attempting to fulfill its parochial interests at the expense of everyone else’s (and especially the Afghan people’s) has a chance of succeeding on its own. Not the Russians, not the Europeans, not the Americans, not any other isolated alliance. Everyone in power today is thinking small and of indefinite duration, when they should be thinking big and on some predetermined time scale. We should be treating Afghanistan like Bosnia but on a much greater scale.

What is needed in Afghanistan is wall-to-wall military boots on the ground to ensure local security, along with sufficient civil affairs and police assets to rebuild the country from the ground up. This the whole world could supply, but no one country or alliance that had other priorities.

So here is my proposal. Under United Nations control, every country so disposed would be called to provide division-sized military units split evenly between combat forces and trainers for the Afghan Army, police and police trainers, and civil affairs and construction units. Each country would be allocated one or more districts of Afghanistan to garrison (depending on the number of divisions it chose to send), with the understanding that twenty percent of its troops would be withdrawn every year until none were left, and only the native Afghan Army, police and government cadres remained onsite after five years.

Priority would go to deploying divisions from Muslim countries. Pakistan would be exempted in order to secure its internal security. Indian troops would be deployed as far away from the Pakistan border as possible; Chinese, Russian and Iranian troops, as far away from their own borders as possible. European, American and Muslim country divisions would fill in the gaps. The target goal would be one million foreign troops during the first year, and their orders would be to secure local peace and practice intensive civil development within their area of responsibility under the direction of the U.N.

With that many troops on the ground, military security would quickly become a secondary problem. Priority would go to infrastructure development (schools, roads, administrative services and commercial activities), as well as police training and the elimination of local government corruption. Afghanistan’s entire opium crop would be purchased in bulk by the U.N. every year for five years and destroyed on site. Funds so spent would go to agricultural and small business development locally, until local economies could replace the income gained by the growing poppies. Democratic elections would be organized, monitoring and held annually until they became routine and expected.

The entire U.N. project would be designed to pack up and leave Afghanistan after five years, and everyone would know it. If Afghanistan could not be demilitarized, rebuilt and stabilized politically within five years by such a massive international policy, then it can never be stabilized. We should resolve this problem once and for all, not compromise it indefinitely. Otherwise, get out and cut your losses.

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