Troops, Reforms, Regional Role Define Afghanistan Plan

Troops, Reforms, Regional Role Define Afghanistan Plan - U.S. Institute of Peace

Along with military pressure to coax the Taliban into a peace process, the new U.S. plan for Afghanistan will support government reforms such as tackling corruption, economic development to make the country less dependent on foreign aid and diplomacy to persuade Pakistan to help—rather than hurt—the cause, top U.S. officials said in a briefing at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

“We’re not looking at nation-building or economic development as an end in itself,” said one of four senior administration officials who briefed two dozen policy experts from a range of research institutions to explain and respond to questions about the plan President Trump announced in a prime-time television address on Aug. 21. But support to Afghanistan is “necessary to protect the ultimate goal of a stable Afghanistan, where the government is in control of the territory and terrorists cannot set up shop there.”

The briefing aimed to add details to the military, political and economic plan the new administration will pursue to achieve the goal, which one official described as “a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban that protects vital U.S. national security interests.” The officials spoke on condition they not be identified by name, to allow a more candid discussion.

The plan calls first of all for increasing military pressure on the Taliban to reverse some of its gains in recent years, as the militants have retaken parts of Helmand Province in the south and briefly twice seized control of the major northern city of Kunduz. ISIS, too, has made inroads, prompting the U.S. to drop its largest non-nuclear bomb for the first time in combat in April, to destroy a system of bunkers and tunnels the group was using in Nangarhar Province in the country’s east. The influence of ISIS also is turning more Taliban members to further extremes, one of the senior officials said.

Trump’s announcement this week didn’t specify the number of American troops that might be added to the current contingent of 8,400, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2010-2011, but news reports say the Defense Department has authorization to add as many as 3,900. The U.S. will work with Afghan forces to step up counter-terrorism operations and to increase training, advising and assistance, the senior officials said. NATO allies and partners also will continue their contributions to the mission, they said…

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I would like to look at this issue of "corruption" again and, specifically, look at how the Afghans appear to view this matter:

a. As an aspect of "our" -- rather than "their" -- identity, culture and society. And, thus,

b. As a reason why they might embrace (re-embrace/continue to embrace) the Taliban and Sharia; herein, coming to:

1. Reject the U.S./the West generally, and, specifically,

2. Reject the alien and profane Western systems -- of justice, etc. -- that we seek to impose upon them; this, via a (Western-oriented?) central government.

In this regard, consider the following from the recent SWJ article entitled "Deciphering the Taliban:"

BEGIN QUOTE

Many Afghans expressed concern over the concept and implementation of central governance, distrusting those in positions of power and influence. Widespread corruption affects both rural and urban populations alike, and much of it stems from the authorities set in place in accordance with Western values. There is a feeling that individuals holding power at the national or provincial level can act with impunity and are not held accountable for their actions. As one Kabuli explained to me:

"The West has made an effort to establish a constitution and a Western-like system of justice. But that is the problem. In the West, if you can afford a better lawyer, it is certain that you will win a case even if you are at fault. With the Taliban, Sharia justice is for everyone: rich, middle and poor. And everyone gets quick justice. In the warlord government in Kabul, if you are rich and have connections, you can get away with anything. This is what the West has brought here: A slow and corrupt system of justice."

END QUOTE

Thus, as to the problem of "corruption," should we not see this -- as per the thoughts of the Afghans above --

a. More from the perspective of this being a characteristic that is endemic to/a "social norm" in Western Civilization? And, thus,

b. Yet another, grossly alien and profane -- and, thus, highly intolerable -- "value" aberration that we wish the Afghan people to (somehow) embrace?

(Talk about your uphill battles !!! )

From our article above:

BEGIN QUOTE

Along with military pressure to coax the Taliban into a peace process, the new U.S. plan for Afghanistan will support government reforms such as tackling corruption, economic development to make the country less dependent on foreign aid and diplomacy to persuade Pakistan to help—rather than hurt—the cause, top U.S. officials said in a briefing at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

“We’re not looking at nation-building or economic development as an end in itself,” said one of four senior administration officials who briefed two dozen policy experts from a range of research institutions to explain and respond to questions about the plan President Trump announced in a prime-time television address on Aug. 21. But support to Afghanistan is “necessary to protect the ultimate goal of a stable Afghanistan, where the government is in control of the territory and terrorists cannot set up shop there.”

END QUOTE

Anyone see a contradiction here? Explanation:

In the second quoted paragraph above, we see the idea that, under President Trump, we will not be "looking at nation-building or economic development as an end in itself" -- this, given that the ultimate goal, under President Trump, will be "stability."

However, in the first quoted paragraph above, we find -- re: the new U.S. plan for Afghanistan -- that we will continue to do such things as support government reforms "tackling corruption."

Here is the point that I am trying to make:

If "corruption" is a "social norm"/an established practice in Afghanistan (as it may be in many/most places in the world where the U.S./the West seeks to "transform" outlying states and societies more along modern western political, economic, social and/or value lines?),

Then how will undermining and eliminating "corruption" -- a "bread and butter" practice/a long-ago established and accepted "social norm;" how will this such highly disruptive effort tend to "stabilize," rather than further "de-stabilize," Afghanistan (et al.)?

(Or, as an alternative thought, should we see "corruption" -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- as something that that is actually only endemic to "western" civilization; and/or those attempting to "mimic" same?)

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

If (under President Trump) the goal of U.S./the West is no longer "developmental" in nature, to wit: designed to transform the outlying states and societies of the world more along modern western political, economic, social and/or value lines. (Herein accepting that, minus "universal western values," "instability" -- rather than "stability" -- will be the well-understood order-of-the-day in this process.)

Then, in relation to this new goal (stability), should not the U.S./the West HALT/REFRAIN FROM all of its "transformational" activities -- such as attempting to fight, reduce and/or eliminate "corruption?" (To wit: often long-ago established and accepted practices which, when considered as part of the whole, may actually help form the basis for "stability;" this, in the very different states and societies which make up the Rest of the World?)

(Note: "Anti-corruption" efforts, etc., as discussed by me above; might these be designed to eliminate an "established" way of life, and to replace same with a way of life which -- not the populations concerned -- but the U.S./the West prefers. Can anyone think of a more "destabilizing" practice than this? If this indeed is the case, then should we see the President Trump "stability" plan as something of an illusion or, more correctly, as something of a ruse?)