Is the West capable of fixing Afghanistan?


Afghanistan's controvertial elections further damage the country's government (AP Photo/Presidential Palace, HO)

US President Barack Obama with the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (AP Photo/Presidential Palace, HO)

 The highly-controversial election in Afghanistan has added to concerns that the international mission in that country is doomed to failure. It is indicative of the fact that, despite the perceived power of the United States, it has been unable to ensure that Afghanistan’s reconstruction is moving in the right direction. Key to any effective democratic government is the legitimacy of those entrusted with the job of leadership. Though the election itself discredited Karzai, the withdrawal of his only challenger, Abdullah Abdullah’s, from a run-off has further eroded his legitimacy. Moreover, it has also added to Abdullah Abdullah’s credibility as someone who could prove to be a potential counter-balance to Karzai in the future. For now, the Afghan people and the coalition are stuck with President Karzai for the foreseeable future. To read the full article click here or continue reading below.

Despite the various coalition partners renouncing Karzai’s corrupt government, one must also look at the government and the country he was given responsibility over. He has been asked to put together a country at war for over three decades, rife with tribal politics and conflict, no civil society institutions and no previous tradition of democracy. Therefore many feel that he has had make deals, however unwise, that would allow him some control over the main power brokers in the area. One must also not forget the coalition’s own deals with the Northern Alliance. Some say that he has had to resort to bribery, turn a blind eye to the drug trade and allow hard-line Islamic policies.

The coalition’s and Afghanistan’s options remain few and far between especially since most formally educated Afghans had left the country once the Taliban came into power. One option is to bring the more “nationalist” Taliban into the fold. This would mean accepting the “nationalist” Taliban as participants in the governance of the country and of the presence of the warlords in the north. Though it is not clear how such an arrangement would help the legitimacy of any Afghan president. With President Obama’s primary goal in Afghanistan being the ensuring of US’s security one must question whether any plan would be in the best interest of the Afghan people. At the moment, the coalition, including Canada, is willing to stay the course with the present plan and hope that the results are favourable. For Canada, as commented on by Steve Staples of the Rideau Institute, this could mean another 60 Canadian military fatalities and over four billion dollars in spending up to December 2011.

Tags: "Nationalist" Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan, Canada, Coalition, Defence policy, Elections, Northern Alliance, President Hamid Karzai, President Obama, Rideau Institute, Steve Staples, Steven Staples, Warlords