Monday, June 16, 2008

Sarah Chayes' Afghanistan

The magazine is called Espirit de Corps and the name leaves no doubt it's not some pinko rag. That's why I found EDC editor Scott Taylor's interview with Sarah Chayes, I knew it was worth heavily excerpting:

"She is probably the most knowledgeable westerner when it comes to the situation in southern Afghanistan, and as an American living alone in downtown Kandahar, she is undoubtedly one of the bravest women I have ever met.

What is truly significant is that Chayes has been able to continue her work despite the deterioration in the security situation. Although a committed pacifist, Chayes is no fool and she carries a Kalashnikov assault rifle for her own protection. Several of her staff have weapons permits as well.

Chayes’s input has become regarded as a vital source of intelligence for those stakeholders trying to get a full picture of the situation on the ground without many eyes and ears outside the wire. She supports a continued NATO presence in Kandahar but is highly critical of the political strategy and combat tactics of the coalition forces.

"I was very happy to see NATO come (to Kandahar) but disappointed that NATO hasn’t altered their policy of using corrupt Afghan officials," she said. "They have given a blank cheque to the local government authorities and you simply can’t do that. Fighting corruption is a daily process. You can’t just remove a few officials and consider the task complete."

According to Chayes, NATO’s killing of insurgents is negated by the unchecked corruption of the local government, which is causing an even greater number of volunteers to take up arms and join the resistance. She said the solution is for NATO to take firm control of the Afghan administration it is fighting to prop up.

"These corrupt Afghan officials will respond to foreign pressure because they know they are in power thanks to NATO," Chayes said. "If NATO wasn’t here, the Karzai regime wouldn’t last five days, or five minutes, because the people are so upset."

"If the Afghan government is a criminal enterprise and Canada’s stated mission is to support the government of Afghanistan, then what the hell are you achieving?" she said. "Is NATO here to make five people happy or to make the whole province happy?"

In addition to NATO cleaning house within the Afghan administration, thereby winning the hearts-and-minds campaign among the local population, Chayes believes even more foreign combat troops are required to stem the flow of insurgents from bases across the Pakistani border.

"Kandahar is the most important province in Afghanistan. Kandahar is where this campaign will be won or lost," she said. "It was a strategic error for the Americans to give up Regional Command South, but NATO must now fill the void. Kandahar is the marrow in Afghanistan’s bones."

Chayes is right. She understands what NATO needs to do in southern Afghanistan. She knows we need far more troops for the job than we have. She knows we need to topple the "criminal enterprise" that is the Karzai/warlord coalition. She knows we have to start helping the Afghan people not their oppressors just because they happen to be on "our side."

I'd also bet that Sarah Chayes knows all these things aren't going to happen. Our Furious Leader won't even breathe a word about these problems and the clown car of generals we rotate through there won't stand up for our troops and mention them either. We'll just keep on keeping on until we get so tired of it we give up and leave.


Dr. Tux said...

Read her book, it's more than worth it.

Anonymous said...

Not enough troops, eh? What does that make our kids..........
its Afghanisnam

Raphael Alexander said...

It's a great article. Thanks for sharing.

Mike said...

Scott Taylor has had misgivings about the conduct of the war since 2003.

He is worth reading and listening to.

Gusgamashuq Abunoori said...