The International Crisis Group has issued a new report on Aid and Conflict in Afghanistan. It is a comprehensive survey with the two top recommendations focused on the need to stop linking development/assistance to the US military strategy and finding ways to strengthen a representative government.
To the International Community, especially the U.S. and other NATO allies and the European Union:
1. Delink non-military assistance from counter-insurgency targets, including by devising mandates and assessing requirements of civilian assistance independently of troop deployment levels.
2. Increase and broaden engagement with the Afghan state beyond Kabul and the Karzai administration to include elected provincial councils and provincial development committees in identifying funding needs, determining funding priorities and monitoring implementation.
Click here for the Executive Summary
Click here for the full report
The report finds very little to be hopeful about…
"After a decade of major security, development and humanitarian assistance, the international community has failed to achieve a politically stable and economically viable Afghanistan. Despite billions of dollars in aid, state institutions remain fragile and unable to provide good governance, deliver basic services to the majority of the population or guarantee human security. As the insurgency spreads to areas regarded as relatively safe till now, and policymakers in Washington and other Western capitals seek a way out of an unpopular war, the international community still lacks a coherent policy to strengthen the state ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign forces by December 2014. The impact of international assistance will remain limited unless donors, particularly the largest, the U.S., stop subordinating programming to counter-insurgency objectives, devise better mechanisms to monitor implementation, adequately address corruption and wastage of aid funds, and ensure that recipient communities identify needs and shape assistance policies.”
Going back to the 1980’s the report makes the point that foreign intervention has always focused on military assistance and military power.
During the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s, the Western and Eastern blocs sought to advance their political agendas through not only military but also humanitarian and development assistance. The Soviet intervention in 1979 and subsequent assistance from Moscow and other Warsaw Pact countries were aimed at saving a faltering Marxist government that faced popular discontent and an armed opposition operating out of safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan and backed by countries as diverse as the U.S., Saudi Arabia, China and Iran. To regain control over territory lost to the insurgency, significant Soviet funding went to the security apparatus – army, police and intelligence services – and to the formation of pro-government militias.
The state was, however, unable to stem desertions in the military, compelling Soviet forces to increase their presence on the ground. By 1983, 105,000 Soviet soldiers were in the country, while the entire Afghan army consisted of just 50,000 men, with Moscow considering the financing of its own troops part of its official assistance.
After 2005, U.S. assistance focused increasingly on building Afghanistan’s security forces, particularly after the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) was established that year. Of the $29.35 billion allocated thus far to developing the Afghan National Security Forces, $27.8 billion was appropriated after the ASFF was set up. This accounts for more than half of all U.S. reconstruction funding.
President Obama has requested an additional $11.6 billion for the ASFF in FY 201158 and $13 billion for FY 2012, which would bring the total investment in the Afghan security forces since 2005 to more than $52.4 billion.