The desire for a quick, cheap war followed by a quick, cheap peace is what has brought Afghanistan to the present, increasingly dangerous situation. (...) The intervention in Afghanistan has been done on the cheap. Compared even to many recent post-conflict situations (Bosnia, Kosovo) it was given proportionately many fewer peacekeepers and less resources – and Afghanistan has never been a post-conflict situation. Even the numbers do not tell the full story since force protection, rather than the creation of durable security, remains the first priority for some NATO members.Writing for the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, Clemens Wergin mentioned this report and quotes Tom Koenigs, the UN representative in Afghanistan: "In Kosovo we have spent ten times more money per inhabitant than in Afghanistan."
Germany is responsible for North Afghanistan and for the training of the Afghan police . German government officials sometimes proudly refer to Germany's international police training missions, but there have been reports about problems with Iraqi police training and there are some recent reports about shortcomings in the training of the Afghan police:
In September 2006, the Philadelphia Inquirer had a series about "Afghanistan: The Forgotten War" (HT: Don):
Some U.S. and European officials are also critical of the manner in which Germany has managed its task of training the Afghan police force (ANP). The task is a daunting one, given the low pay provided by the Afghan government and the modest numbers of police used to cover a broad territory. In this view, the Afghan police remain "corrupt and hollow" as a force. At the same time, SACEUR General Jones has said [in July 2006] that while training of the Afghan army is "one of the bright stories, one of the not-so-good stories… is the inadequacy to bring similar progress to police reform, which is the responsibility of Germany." (…)
The United States has become more active in training the Afghan police, possibly as a result of the reported deficiencies in German training and the general obstacles faced by the police. The police play a key role in Afghanistan’s stabilization because they, along with the Afghan army, have primary responsibility for destroying poppy fields and opium labs. The effort to build a professional police force may have suffered a setback in the summer of 2006 when President Karzai, noting the ineffectiveness of the force, began to consider placing individuals closely associated with warlords into senior positions in the force due to their knowledge of the region, a proposed move sharply criticized by U.N. officials in the country.
Washington initially sent in a force of only 8,000 troops, primarily to pursue international terrorists such as bin Laden. The military deliberately refrained from attempting to maintain security or public order, leaving that chore to Afghan militias with whom it had been allied to overthrow the Taliban. Five years later, nearly 40,000 foreign troops are struggling to contain an insurgency that persists along most of the 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, particularly in the south. Coalition forces under Eikenberry's command now number about 21,000, of which all but 2,000 are Americans. NATO has 18,500 more troops in Afghanistan - 2,000 of them Americans. At the end of July, NATO took over security in southern Afghanistan, where British, Canadian and Dutch troops have faced fierce fighting. Its command will expand to encompass the entire country later this year, including control of about half of the U.S. troops. The remaining 10,000 Americans will stay under direct U.S. control as a counterterrorism force along the border.Economics professor turned NYT Columnist Paul Krugman wrote about The Arithmetic of Failure on October 27, 2006:
The United States' early reliance on Afghan ethnic militias has had a lasting negative legacy. Most Afghans hate the warlords, who destroyed Kabul before the Taliban pushed them aside in 1996. "The most popular thing the Taliban had done was to drive those militias out of power, and then we brought them back," said Rubin, the Afghan expert who served as an adviser to the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, in 2001." (...)
Under growing political pressure to confront the Americans, Karzai in the last year has demanded that coalition forces restrain the use of aerial bombings and the house searches that have alienated Afghans. But each incident - such as the U.S. truck accident that sparked off deadly riots in May - has ignited renewed denunciations of American military arrogance. "People have lost their trust, and the Americans are losing support," said Zaman Malang, a military commander who represented a delegation of Kunar province villagers visiting Karzai last week to complain about an American raid in August that left eight people dead, including a 12-year-old boy.
The coalition's long-term strategy is to build up the Afghan National Army to eventually take over security functions - so far, about 30,000 Afghans out of a planned force of 50,000 have gone through training and are deployed alongside American and NATO units.
But the coalition only belatedly recognized that it also needed to train police, who are notoriously corrupt in some areas and work hand in hand with the Taliban in others. "Without the police, the military operations in a sense are futile," Rubin said. (...)
Afghans say their reconstruction would be far easier if the international community could only confront the biggest problem of all: the Taliban's continued freedom to operate from bases in Pakistan's tribal areas.
Given the way the Bush administration relegated Afghanistan to sideshow status, it comes as something of a shock to realize that Afghanistan has a larger population than Iraq. (...)
The forces trying to stabilize Afghanistan are absurdly small: we’re trying to provide security to 30 million people with a force of only 32,000 Western troops and 77,000 Afghan national forces. If we stopped trying to do the impossible in Iraq, both we and the British would be able to put more troops in a place where they might still do some good. But we have to do something soon: the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan says that most of the population will switch its allegiance to a resurgent Taliban unless things get better by this time next year.
It's hard to believe that the world's only superpower is on the verge of losing not just one but two wars. But the arithmetic of stability operations suggests that unless we give up our futile efforts in Iraq, we're on track to do just that.