Posted by: Christian | May 8, 2009

Bing West sets litter of Afghan kittens on fire

Well, he might as well have. Actually, what he did was write on op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Give the Afghan Army a Governance Role” wherein he said the most ridiculous thing I have heard since about last Tuesday:

The basic question is: How to consolidate the battlefield gains? […]

The second option is to expand the role of the Afghan army to act as the facilitators and watchdogs of governance. […]

As our ambassador in Kabul, [Eikenberry] can facilitate an expanded managerial role for the military in government activities while fostering the civilian political process. […]

If that sounds like double-talk, it is. An activist Afghan military is reminiscent of earlier eras of shadow military influence in Turkey (or in Pakistan, Jordan, Mexico, Argentina, etc.). During internal strife, however, many governments have expanded the powers of their military. It should not be the job of America to build a European-style democracy in Afghanistan. The Afghan military is more trustworthy than either the police or the civilian bureaucracy.

Trustworthy watchdogs of governance? Uh huh.

I’m not even going to bother explaining why this is hilarious. OK, a hint, see: “Afghanistan, 1970s” or any recent analysis of the ANA. This is one of the worst ideas I have heard recently.

And what’s with the references to Kipling and Native Americans? Are you trying to bait Josh Foust?

Pic: “Hi! I’m in charge here now. I’m here to ensure good governance. Just ask Asterix over there.”


  1. FWTW, my thoughts here:

  2. The piece by Mr. West was rather ridiculous. Doesn’t he understand that if the army of any nation is too powerful and lacks balance with other branches of civil society trouble will arise.

    When he was in Afghanistan and getting shot at by Pakistani army backed insurgents, you would think he would understand the situation a little more clearly than the rest.

    Take a look at Pakistan’s army and its ISI who are calling the real shots and causing havoc for everyone in the region. In Pakistan’s existence of 61 years, 34 years have been run by army dictators because the army was too powerful and still is.

    Aside from that, the last Afghan army that could be called a standing army was in the period of President Najibullah. But in 1992 that army was dissolved by the mujahedin backed by Pakistan, and then all hell broke loose.

    It will take another 10 years of extreme dedication to establish an army that can stand on its feet in Afghanistan.

    However, I’m not sure if you need to expand that Afghan army in the number the US has called for. It is best to recruit better personnel and give better pay.

    Amir Abdur Rahman quotes the poet Jami in his autobiography about his philosophy of running the Afghan army:

    “The mass of the army is not the only thing required, Two hundred competent warriors are better than 100,000 noise-makers.”

  3. Woops, I think he did bait me. Only I fell for different bait. Go figure.

  4. There is no way to avoid having a very disproportionally powerful Afghan Army due to the security challenge.

    What the international community therefore has to do is to push ahead with institution building and making sure the rest of the government has resilience and strong systems.

    Powerful militaries have not always proven disastrous, in Turkey it has in some ways been a stabilizing influence and the guardian of Ataturk’s modern policies – may it long continue to do so.

  5. Not sure that making fun of that guys hat would be such a wonderful idea.

  6. I hope the election result is fixed first. The future of this country depends on it.

  7. And all their children, as far as I know. ,


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