Afghan Democracy Failure Is Not an Option

Article excerpt


Afghanistan embodied the consequences of international negligence in the post-Cold War era. But international inertia ceased on September 11.

After September 11, the world suddenly discovered Afghanistan, which became the main focus of the global fight against terrorism. That leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban had been a huge mistake by the international community was now accepted wisdom, as it became clear that if the international community had stayed on to help rebuild Afghanistan at the end of the occupation by the Soviet Union in 1989 the country would not have become al Qaeda's base for global terror attacks.

Five years on, peace still remainselusivein Afghanistan. Thesamedestructive transnational forces that ripped Afghanistan apart in the 1990s continue to undermine its new democracy and threaten international security. A number of interdependent factors account for the resurgence of securitythreatsto Afghanistan and the international community.

First, while it took the Taliban seven years to establish its rule over much of Afghanistan, Coalition forces ousted it in 45 days. Most Taliban members gave up on resistance and headed to their villages, or crossed the border into Pakistan in late 2001. Since then, Coalition forces have mainly focused on hunting down the leadership and remnants of al Qaeda, leaving thousands of former Taliban combatants to their own fates. This effectively has allowed the Taliban to regroup, find new sources of funding and receive insurgency training outside Afghanistan. They have now reorganized into a well-coordinated insurgency, rapidly capitalizing on Afghanistan's vulnerable human environment to carry out a protracted war of harassment and terrorism.

Second, despite being the world's main front in the war againstterrorism, Afghanistan has received less per capita in reconstruction and security assistance than other recent post-conflict countries, including Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Lack of resources has led to quick fixes to address basic needs at the cost of long-term development projects. A lack of internal security and economic development has left Afghanistan's war-torn society vulnerable to narcoterrorists, who draw in more than 2.3 million Afghan farmers in poppy cultivation. Peasants remain extremely poor, however, as most of the drug revenues go to drug lords and corrupt police officers.

Third, between 2001 and 2005 the basic institutions of centralized government were established in Afghanistan. …