Posted by: Christian | November 20, 2009

New Afghanistan Blogs

Well, maybe not that new. But I really haven’t seen many links to these blogs, so they are probably new to you. I’ll just excerpt from them to give you a taste of what they are all about:

First, from Jeni Mitchell writing at The Crime-Conflict Nexus:

…there is another problem: the presence of intoxicated militants in combat. What effects are they having? Do we know how to cope with them?

It is important to view narco-trafficking as a strategic problem, but in doing so we should not neglect the tactical and local-level effects. It’s safe to say that it does matter if irregular fighters are drugged up, and it does matter that the transnational drugs trade in Central Asia also ensnares hundreds of thousands of locals in hopeless drug addiction and criminality.

And from a Public Affairs Officer who seems to not just be reading of a script like most are:

Unfortunately, in Afghanistan at the moment security and corruption are not equivalent quantities. A basic level of security right now is the foundation on which any enduring gains in good governance must be built. Warlords, cronies and other barnacles on the Afghan ship of state will be among the last to suffer if the security situation in the country does not improve. The Afghan people, meanwhile, bear the brunt of decisions to put civic ethics before physical safety.

Taliban insurgents are banking on the people running out of patience with their daily peril before Afghan elites achieve moral Nirvana. Although it’s feasible to deal with corruption while providing security, it’s impossible to address corruption before providing security, unless you’re only seeking promises of reform. Between the egg of security and the chicken of government legitimacy, the egg comes first, and it’s discouraging that even a few close observers of Afghanistan appear to think otherwise.

And from Captain Cat, who is neither a Captain nor a cat:

This man, Commander Daoud, is not a particularly nice man. He was one of the people in this province responsible for widespread vote rigging in his area of influence in Zazi Aryoub district. A short while after the jirga as we waited outside still hopeful that the Bangash would turn up, this burly man who towered above everyone else beckoned to me to join the large circle of tribal elders he was communing with. I looked at him incredulously. “Me?” I mouthed as I raised my eyebrows questioningly, pointing at myself. He nodded and I walked over.

And finally, from a Marine ETT in Kunar:

Currently, ANP members need little more than the recommendation of two local elders in order to get accepted into the police academy – and very shortly after that they are police. There are other requirements, but in a country where few people can read and bureaucratic institutions are lacking, the requirement to be a citizen or not have been convicted of a crime in recent years is not difficult to circumvent.

The ANA has a bit more of a vetting process, but both the ANA and ANP could be easily infiltrated by insurgent sympathizers…and undoubtedly have been.

Of course, there is a full list of Afghanistan blogs that I maintain over at The Afghanistan Analyst. Let me know if you think I’m missing any.


  1. This 78 year old with eight years as a civilian in S.E.Asia during the sixties finally came home with the opinion that Asia was (is) a vast and overpopulated sponge; with its problems accreted during millenia of tribal, ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences absolutely impervious to non-Asian influences. Isn’t this borne out the historically more recent European colonial period? Now, reading this piece about an embedded (if you will) seemingly impervious drug infestation just about everywhere in Asia to some extent or other, why on earth do we Americans think we can make any lasting difference? Why are we not emphasizing remotely controlled UAV’s and our superbly trained Special Forces targeted towards those sites/people most threatening to our continental borders? Our current massed deployment in central-south-west Asia is certain to be absorbed leaving no lasting changes. Why don’t we hear more of similar thinking?

  2. On the intoxication matter I believe that RAND had a monograph about fighters under the influence, sadly it’s impossible to find now.

    On corruption and security, I feel that security is more important, but the problem there is two-fold. The first is that this could be used to destroy any chance of anti-corruption measures which could lead to little difference for the Afghani between the Taliban and the new leaders. The second is that the constant need to give bribes and have family connections could (and seems to) send men to join the anti-government groups. I’m not saying that the second can’t be overcome, simply that it complicates things.


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