Center for American Progress

Place the Afghan Government at the Center of International Efforts
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Place the Afghan Government at the Center of International Efforts

Whether the United States, NATO, or the U.N. are working on counternarcotics policy, counterterrorism efforts, or reconstruction, policymakers should always consult with the Afghan government. This will empower them in the long-term.

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Whether the United States, NATO, or the U.N. are working on counternarcotics policy, counterterrorism efforts, or reconstruction, policymakers should always consult with the Afghan government. This will empower them in the long-term.

The international community has consistently worked outside of the Afghan government, even supporting warlords and other individuals with funding and arms instead of the government itself. This has undermined the Afghan government’s ability to build its capacity to provide services and rule of law.

Only a small percentage of aid has gone through the Afghan government’s budget and Afghanistan’s trust funds (financial accounts through which donors can channel their assistance for specific Afghan priorities); the majority is funneled directly by individual donor countries into their pet projects. The United Nations and other partners have also created organizations that parallel the Afghan government. This has led to redundant efforts, conflicting approaches to problems, loss of credibility in the government in the opinion of the Afghan people, and minimal transparency and monitoring. The result is that little progress has been made in building the Afghan state or in defeating the insurgency.

What’s worse, the international community has pursued policies that often conflict with Afghan priorities. One example is the U.S. pressure to conduct aerial eradication to combat drugs despite the opposition of Afghan leaders and NATO member countries. Karzai’s desperate pleading with U.S. and NATO forces to stop killing Afghan civilians as they attempt to combat the insurgency is another chilling example of the Afghan government’s marginalization by the international community and the Afghan government’s inability to coordinate or check the actions of outsiders in Afghanistan.

For more information on the Center for American Progress’ comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan, see:

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