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January 28, 2010

A FOUSTian Bargain in Afghanistan?
Posted by Patrick Barry

Perhaps Spencer is seeing something in Dexter Filkin’s piece about co-opting the 400,000 strong Shinwari tribe to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan that I’m not, but I just don’t get how the decision to "bypass the government entirely and pledge $1 million in development aid directly to the Shinwai elders,” in return for support against the Taliban shows the U.S. slowing moving toward the realization that flipping tribes requires tying them “to the institutions of the state.”  If this quote from a Shinwari elder is reflective, it's pretty clear they don't much care for the Afghan state:

"We are doing this for ourselves, and ourselves only...We have absolutely no faith in the Afghan government to do anything for us. We don’t trust them at all."

I can understand the rationale behind the end-around – fear of corruption.  Furthermore, I don’t see an immediate reason why this plan, for all its flaws, would foreclose facilitating re-integration via the ANSF or pressuring the Afghan government to perform better. But, where does avoiding corruption end and shutting out the Afghan government begin? How do you get from a bargain that that smells heavily of factionalism to the integration of more Pashtuns into the ANSF?  The sardonic part of me thinks Josh Foust is pretty much right:

Ahh, so the U.S. is undermining the Afghan government and encouraging mob violence, all in the name of supporting the Afghan government and deligitimizing the Taliban. Get it?


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