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Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum


4 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011ries and building the new polity, in effect amountsto nation-building. Moreover, the scope of nation-buildinghas been steadily extended. Thus,Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that“we share an interest in helping build an Afghanistanthat is stable and secure; that can provideprosperity and progress and peace for itscitizens.” 2 Obama added the following day thathe had “reaffirmed the commitment of the UnitedStates to an Afghanistan that is stable, strong,and prosperous.” He reiteratedthe 2009 goal toPolice, judges, “disrupt, dismantle, andjailors, customs defeat al-Qaeda and itsextremist allies in Afghanistanand Pakistan,officers, and civilservants in and to prevent its capacityto threaten AmericaAfghanistanregularlyand our allies in the future.”But he also underscoredthe need for “a ci-accept bribes.vilian effort to promotegood governance and development … In addition…[to] open the door to Taliban who cut theirties to al-Qaeda, abandon violence, and acceptthe Afghan constitution, including respect for humanrights.” 3As the Hamid Karzai government started tonegotiate with various factions of the Talibanabout the conditions under which they mightsupport the government, or join it, or lay downtheir weapons after the departure of U.S. andNATO forces, the nation-building goal was extended.It grew from an “effective and legitimategovernment” in the eyes of the Afghans to ensuringthat democracy and human rights, especiallywomen’s rights, as stated in the Afghanconstitution (fashioned under U.S. influence andin line with the values Americans hold dear) arerespected and that Shari‘a or Islamic law doesnot become the law of the land.Late in 2010, as it became clearer that nation-buildingwas progressing rather poorly, missioncreep turned into mission confusion. Atseveral points, the U.S. government opposednegotiations with the Taliban. At others, it endorsedand facilitated these talks. 4 A more moderategoal was mentioned much more frequently:Weaken the Taliban to the point that they becometruly interested in a peaceful settlement orin avoiding a civil war among the various ethnicgroups after U.S. troops leave.Most recently, a geopolitical goal has beenadded—namely to ensure that after the U.S. withdrawal,the Afghan government will not tilt towardPakistan or come under its influence—especiallynot that of the Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI)—because such a tilt could trouble India,which in turn might lead to a regional war or toIndia distancing itself from the United States,just as Washington is counting on New Delhi tocountervail China.The discussion proceeds by spelling outthe reason why nation-building, a key elementof counterinsurgency, is not working in Afghanistan,the need to draw much more on structuresand leaders already in place rather than buildingnew ones if Washington is to disengage successfully,and it closes by outlining what mightbe done and what lessons might be learned fromthis war, one of the longest in which the UnitedStates has ever engaged.THE LIMITS OFNATION-BUILDINGChampions of nation-building, which oftenentails pouring large amounts of money on thenations to be reconstructed, ignore the bitter lessonsof foreign aid in general. An extensive 2006report on the billions of dollars invested by theWorld Bank since the mid-1990s in economic developmentshows that despite the bank’s bestefforts, the “achievement of sustained increasesin per capita income, essential for poverty reduction,continues to elude a considerable number of2 Hillary Clinton, “Remarks at Reception in Honor of AfghanPresident Hamid Karzai,” May 11, 2010.3 Barack Obama, “Remarks by President Obama and PresidentKarzai of Afghanistan in Joint Press Availability,” May 12,2010. 4 The Guardian (London), July 19, 2010.

countries.” 5 Out of twentyfiveaid-recipient countriescovered by the report, morethan half (14) had the sameor worsening rates of percapita income from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.Moreover, the nations thatreceived most of the aid, especiallyin Africa, developedleast while the nationsthat received very little aidgrew very fast (notablyChina, Singapore, SouthKorea, and Taiwan). 6 Othernations found foreign aid a“poisoned gift” because itpromoted dependency onforeigners, undermined indigenousendeavors, anddisproportionately benefitedthose gifted at proposalwriting and courtingfoundation and foreign aidrepresentatives, rather thanlocal entrepreneurs andbusinessmen.In addition, the World Bank and other studentsof development have learned that largeparts of the funds provided are wasted becauseof widespread and high-level corruption. In TheWhite Man’s Burden, 7 American economist WilliamEasterly systematically debunked the ideathat increased aid expenditures in and of themselvescan alleviate poverty or modernize failedor failing states and pointed to the key roles thatbad government and corruption play in thesedebacles. Steve Knack of the World Bankshowed that huge aid revenues may even spurfurther bureaucratization and worsen corruption.8 Others found that mismanagement, sheer5 “Annual Review of Development Effectiveness 2006: GettingResults,” World Bank Independent Evaluation Group, Washington,D.C., 2006.6 Ibid.7 New York: Penguin, 2006.8 Stephen Knack, “Aid Dependence and the Quality of Governance:Cross-Country Empirical Tests,” Southern EconomicJournal, 2 (2001): 310-29.Photo by Michael Sparks, CJTF-101Having made the Afghan war the edifice of his battle against violentextremism, President Obama, here with U.S. troops in Afghanistan,December 3, 2010, has been struggling to shape a coherent strategy.His frequent juggling of goals and his lack of clarity on what theyare has reduced public support for the war and hindered U.S.efforts to disengage.incompetence, and weak government were almostas debilitating.Afghanistan was ranked by TransparencyInternational as the third most corrupt nation inthe world in 2010. 9 Its government lost much ofwhatever legitimacy it had following fraudulentelections. It does not govern large parts of thecountry. It surely qualifies as a failing state—eight years after reconstruction began with fewsigns of improvement. A 2008 study by TheEconomist found that several of the main reasonsthat Afghanistan’s development is proceedingso poorly are the widespread corruption,cronyism and tribalism, lack of accountability,and gross mismanagement. The Economistrecommended that the West pressure PresidentKarzai to introduce reforms. 10 But how9 “2010 Corruption Perceptions Index,” Transparency International,Berlin, accessed Jan. 12, 2011.10 “A War of Money as Well as Bullets,” The Economist, May24, 2008.Etzioni: Afghan War Strategy/ 5

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