Transition under Threat
Publication Year: 2008
Many have questioned the wisdom of the international intervention in Afghanistan in light of the escalation of violence and instability in the country in the past few years. Particularly uncertain are Canadians, who have been inundated with media coverage of an increasingly dirty war in southern Afghanistan, one in which Canadians are at the frontline and suffering heavy casualties. However, the conflict is only one aspect of Afghanistan’s complicated, and incomplete, political, economic, and security transition.
In Afghanistan: Transition under Threat, leading Afghanistan scholars and practitioners paint a full picture of the situation in Afghanistan and the impact of international and particularly Canadian assistance. They review the achievements of the reconstruction process and outline future challenges, focusing on key issues like the narcotics trade, the Pakistan—Afghanistan bilateral relationship, the Taliban-led insurgency, and continuing endemic poverty. This collection provides new insight into the nature and state of Afghanistan’s post-conflict transition and illustrates the consequences of failure.
Co-published with the Centre for International Governance Innovation
Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
After a number of years of relegation to secondary strategic importance, Afghanistan is today back at the centre of global policy debates. At international conferences in Rome (July 2007), Tokyo (February 2008), Bucharest (April 2008), and Paris (June 2008), global leaders have committed themselves to addressing the difficult challenges that now loom before the Afghan people...
As this volume is a collection of papers first presented at a workshop held in Waterloo, Canada, in December 2006, we would like to thank all of the workshop participants for the vibrant discussion that took place. It has greatly enriched the quality of the book. We are indebted to the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) for sponsoring the project and the...
This collection of essays is the result of a workshop held near Waterloo, Ontario, Canada to examine Afghanistan’s war-to-peace transition. Among the thirty-five participants were diplomats, academics, aid workers, soldiers, and practitioners with extensive experience in Afghanistan. The wide-ranging and frank discussions revealed that the Afghan state building process...
SECTION I: The Political Transition
1 Looking Back at the Bonn Process
On 5 December 2001, a range of Afghan political actors attached their signatures to the text of what was to become known as the Bonn Agreement. The product of a conference that brought together non-Taliban forces, it set out a path for transition to fresh political arrangements for a country that had endured decades of turbulence. The agreement prompted high hopes among...
2 Afghanistan: The Challenge of State Building
Diverging concepts underpinning the policies of domestic, regional, and global actors on the Afghan scene influence the process of state building in Afghanistan. International involvement in the state building process was an afterthought to the fight against global terrorism and was driven by the desire to remove the threat to the United States emanating from Afghan territory...
3 Poppy, Politics, and State Building
Following the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghan farmers began to replant their fields with poppy after the opium ban of 2000. The US focus on the war on terror meant that state building and counter-narcotics initially took a back seat. This prioritization has changed in the years between the Bonn Agreement in 2001 and the Afghan Compact of 2006. First, an international...
SECTION II: The Economic Transition
4 Responding to Afghanistan’s Development Challenge: An Assessment of Experience and Priorities for the Future
Since the fall of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan has faced a highly unusual, and in many respects unique, set of development challenges—in particular the combination of extreme poverty and underdevelopment, very limited human capital, severe loss of state legitimacy and capacity, lack of rule of law, and the burgeoning illicit, mainly opium economy. Facing these challenges...
5 Laying Economic Foundations for a New Afghanistan
Over thirty years of war had wreaked havoc on Afghan institutions, resources, and people. Rule of law collapsed, giving way to massive political violence, human rights abuses, and social trauma. Afghanistan experienced the erosion of economic foundations, mass flight of skilled human and other capital, environmental degradation, market inefficiencies, and the breakdown...
SECTION III: The Security Transition
6 The Neo-Taliban Insurgency: From Village Islam to International Jihad
Although relatively few of the “old Taliban” rushed to join the new jihad, they initially accounted for all of the 10–12 top leaders of the Leadership Council based in Quetta. It is therefore not surprising that the “ideology” of the Neo-Taliban derives to a large extent from that of the “old” Taliban: a mix of the most conservative village Islam with Deobandi doctrines, with a stress...
7 Security Sector Reform and State Building in Afghanistan
As many observers of Afghanistan have recognized in 2006 and 2007, the Afghan state building process faces a “tipping point” (Rubin 2007; Patel 2007). Over the past two years, security conditions in the country, particularly in the south and east, have deteriorated to a point where the post- Taliban political order appears at risk. Many Afghans have yet to receive the peace dividend...
8 Insecurity along the Durand Line
As 2006 drew to a close, violence spiraled in Kabul and the Afghan countryside. Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, stepped up his criticism of Pakistan’s role in supporting a resurgent Taliban. “Pakistan hopes to make slaves out of us, but we will not surrender” (International Herald Tribune 2006), Karzai declared in a statement that marked the end of quiet diplomacy between...
SECTION IV: The Canadian Case
9 Peace Building and Development in the Fragile State of Afghanistan: A Practitioner’s Perspective
This chapter offers a practitioner’s perspective on the role of the international community in the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan. The evidence considered here suggests that despite certain notable successes in social and economic sectors, Afghanistan remains a fragile state appropriately categorized as a “low income country under stress” (LICUS) due to the...
10 Establishing Security in Afghanistan: Strategic and Operational Perspectives
The international effort to bring stability and security to Afghanistan has been characterized by a growing list of missed strategic opportunities. Driven by “transformational imperatives,” the US strategy to depose the Taliban regime depended on a unique combination of airpower, special forces, and local militias. However, the unintended, but totally foreseeable, consequence of...
11 Canada in Afghanistan: Assessing the Numbers
The Canadian mission in Afghanistan was by far the top Canadian news story of 2006 (Toronto Star 2007) and with good reason, for not since the Korean War have so many Canadians died in an overseas conflict. Thirty-six Canadian soldiers and one diplomat were killed in Afghanistan through the year. Sixteen more Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan in the first half of...