Published on 21 January, 2008
Ahead of the appointment of a new UN envoy for Afghanistan, the authors of this report call on EU and US governments to overhaul their strategies and strike a 'grand bargain' to stabilise the country. In particular, they urge EU governments to deploy more troops in Afghanistan, to relax restrictions (caveats) on their troops, and to reverse the decline in development aid. In exchange, the US should accept a shift from a strategy based on combat operations to one focused on overall political impact, and the protection of ordinary civilians across the country. It should also abandon its failed counter-narcotics strategy.
The report argues that EU governments' failure to coordinate strategies in Afghanistan has limited the EU's real impact on the US-led stabilization agenda. "EU countries have treated the common effort in Afghanistan like a pot-luck dinner where every guest is free to bring his own dish," writes Daniel Korski, who previously worked on post-conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Korski recommends that the current, military-focused coalition strategy should be replaced with a comprehensive political strategy. He makes the following further points.
Need for a ‘grand bargain' - As part of a ‘grand bargain', the EU should deploy more troops in Afghanistan, relax restrictions on their troops - the so-called ‘caveats' - and reverse the decline in development aid. In exchange, the US should accept a shift from a strategy based on combat operations to one focused on overall political impact, and the protection of ordinary civilians across the country. It should also abandon its failed counter-narcotics strategy.
Political inclusion - The international coalition should include mid-ranking, moderate insurgents in the political process, and help President Hamid Karzai to eventually reach a political settlement with his opponents. Negotiations with the Taliban are now unavoidable and the current status quo untenable.
EU underperformance - So far, the majority of EU governments have only made a symbolic contribution to the military effort - with Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland and Portugal at the bottom of the list. (As an example, Austria has contributed a mere 3 soldiers, Ireland only 7, while Luxembourg 9. This stands in contrast to the UK's 7000 troops, Germany's 3000 and The Netherlands' 1500.)
New counter-narcotics strategy - The international coalition should design a new approach to counter-narcotics and abandon all earlier plans for aerial spraying, or schemes for buying up opium crops. Instead, they should make clear that traffickers and their protectors, not farmers, are the problem. The emphasis should be placed on arresting and prosecuting drug lords and their backers in government.
Local delivery - The international community should prioritise local governance and rule-of-law reforms. Assistance efforts need to be refocused around delivering clear benefits on the ground, through strengthening provincial administrations, and ensuring that the Afghan police contribute to, rather than undermine, the safety of civilians.
UN super envoy - The ‘grand bargain' agenda would require leadership that cuts across military, political and development lines, as well as institutional boundaries. The new UN envoy should be a double-hatted leader, bearing responsibility for the leadership of both the UN and NATO. This super envoy should be endorsed by the European Union, and the set-up should be cemented through a new UN Security Council resolution.
Don't mention the war by Daniel Korski, 22 February 2008
New report on Afghanistan calls for ‘grand bargain' between EU and US, Times of Malta, 30 January 2008
New strategy for democracy in Afghanistan, Middle East Times, 24 January 2008
Afghanskt knytkalas, Dagens Nyheter, 23 January 2008
Give cash to win over Afghan moderates - report, Reuters, 21 January 2008
La UE suspende en Afghanistan, El País, 21 January 2008
Taleban-tilhængere skal lokkes med penge, Berlingske Tidende, 20 January 2008
Call to woo ‘moderate' Afghan rebels, Financial Times, 19 January 2008
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