This session was part of the CFR Symposium on NATO at 60, which was made possible through the generous support of the European Commission, CFR's Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, and the Robina Foundation.
This session was part of the CFR Symposium on NATO at 60, which was made possible through the generous support of the European Commission, CFR's Program on International Institutions and Global Governance, and the Robina Foundatio
STEWART PATRICK: Ladies and gentlemen, if we could get started for this next session.
I'm Stewart Patrick. I'm a senior fellow here at the Council, and direct the program on International Institutions and Global Governance, which is co-sponsoring this event.
I'm very grateful to Charlie Kupchan and to his colleague John Elliott who've done a terrific job organizing this conference, and it's a real pleasure to be part of it.
This symposium is obviously intended as a stock-taking exercise of the NATO Alliance, on its 60th anniversary. And the mission that the Alliance in undertaking in Afghanistan is obviously central to the Alliance's future, providing a test of its utility in addressing new security threats and involvement of the Alliance outside of its traditional area of responsibility. Some have even described NATO's experience in Afghanistan as an "existential crisis" for the Alliance.
With this in mind, I invited our panelists to think about two broad themes in preparation for this event. The first, in light of the Obama administration's ongoing strategic review, is to offer some realistic -- some thoughts about a realistic end-state in Afghanistan, and the instruments and resources that the international community and the Afghans would need to bring to bear to achieve this end-state.
The second, was to offer some candid reflections, or an assessment of NATO's performance to date; its prospects for improved performance going forward; and what this says about the strengths and limitations of NATO in such a context. I think General Eikenberry, obviously, got us off on a very good start in beginning to address some of those issues, and perhaps we can drill down a little bit more during this session.
To answer these questions, we're honored, indeed, to have three very distinguished and thoughtful experts who have an intimate familiarity with Afghanistan and the international community's involvement there over the decade -- past decade and, indeed, even longer ago than that. Barnett Rubin is senior fellow and director of studies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, where I had the pleasure of working, including a couple of years as Barney's colleague, his next-door neighbor at CIC.
Barney is, of course, one of the world's foremost experts on Afghanistan. In 2003, when I somehow inherited the Afghan portfolio at the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, which was -- much for Barney's amusement, I think, given his knowledge of the state of my knowledge of Afghanistan. From that point on, for the next couple of years, I depended heavily on his wisdom and counsel whenever preparing to make a policy recommendation or two on Afghanistan.
Ali Jalali is distinguished professor at National Defense University. In addition to spending 20 years in the Afghan army, and as a leader of the Afghan resistance movement, Professor Jalali previously served as minister of the interior in the government of Hamid Karzai, charged, among other things, with building the capacity of the Afghan National Police and overseeing aspects -- critical aspects of security sector reform. He will, obviously, inject a needed Afghan perspective that's been missing in our conversation so far.
Jean-Marie Guehenno is a senior fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at NYU. He has a distinguished record as an international official and a scholar. He served most recently as under secretary general in the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
And in that capacity, he oversaw the U.N.'s involvement in Afghanistan, including the Herculean challenge of coordinating and orchestrating the international community's various efforts in Afghanistan -- which was only touched on partially. I hope that in our conversations here we'll have some opportunity to discuss how NATO's efforts -- which are, of course, only a piece -- a major piece, but only a piece -- of the international community's efforts, actually dovetail and are integrated with the others.
I thought I might kick off the conversation by asking a broad question -- perhaps starting with Barney, and then moving on to the other folks, about the stakes and challenges, and the nature of the challenge in Afghanistan. I wonder where -- having listened to -- the past day, whether or not there's actually any consensus within NATO on this question. Any system of collective defense, it would seem to me, presumes something of a common threat perception.
Last night Lord Robertson made an impassioned case comparing the specter of state failure in Afghanistan and the associated terrorism that would attend to that, to the Cold War threat posed by the Soviet Union. But, in practice, uneven investment in Afghanistan, and public opinion polls in member countries suggest the NATO governments and their publics have very different perceptions of the threats, costs, and benefits, and consequences of a failure there.
Indeed, one sometimes wonders whether or not the NATO Alliance members are fighting the same war in Afghanistan. And I wonder whether or not the Germans still believe in the words of Peter Struck, that "the defense of Germany begins at the Hindu Kush." I'm also wondering whether or not -- in the last session we didn't really talk about -- much about Pakistan, which would seem to me to be a pretty strong strategic imperative. And yet one wonders whether or not the NATO Alliance has the fortitude -- not just the United States but others, to place certain pressures on Pakistan.
So Barney, if I could begin with you, in terms of this question about whether or not there is international agreement, or do you see lots of divergence on what the stakes are and the ramifications of that for what policy choices should be made?
BARNETT RUBIN: Well, of course, there is a great deal of international disagreement, but I think we should question the assumption that the United States has clearly defined goals in Afghanistan that everyone else maybe doesn't agree with. The United States does not have clearly defined goals in Afghanistan.
And that was one of the conclusions of the strategic review that was recently carried out by the National Security Council, that we have enunciated the most grandiose goals possible -- of turning the country into a prosperous, democratic, gender-sensitive nation, at peace with all of its neighbors, and so on; and also allocated a record low amount of resources to that project.
And the way that the NATO operation in Afghanistan was organized, I would say -- just to, since we have limited time I'll put it in the most extreme fashion -- was done in such a way as to meet the institutional needs of NATO, not in such a way as to accomplish objectives in Afghanistan. As a result, it has done a very poor job of doing the latter, and is, therefore, not doing as well as it, perhaps, has hoped, in the former.
And I think the example of the PRT system is an excellent example of that. It was a system, the purpose of which was to enable any NATO member to participate, under any rules it would like, without any level of resources, without any intelligible division of labor or reasonable notion of division of priorities.
So I think that, before we start blaming our allies, we should start here in the United States and try to -- and, as a coherent policy, define our objectives. What are the objectives for which we are fighting; what are the resources -- what are other objectives that we wish to accomplish by non-military means. There's no -- by the way, there's no combined civil-military operational plan for Afghanistan. Never has been. If there was, then it would have been very evident that the resources to accomplish the goals we enunciated were not there.
So, we need to have such a plan, and that will be the beginning of the possibility of having an intelligent discussion with our allies about a division of labor. Currently we don't have either clear enough goals or enough of a plan to have that discussion.
PATRICK: If I can pick up on that, and perhaps -- then turn it to the others. Even if one agreed on the stakes in Afghanistan, it's obvious that there hasn't been much agreement on the strategy, or, as you point out, clarity. Yesterday, Foreign Minister Sikorski declared that the time had come for NATO to lower its expectations, while at the same time increasing the resources that you indicated have been lacking.
You know, from 2003 onward, the U.S. objective -- rhetorically, at least, was not only to have Afghanistan be in a situation where it was no longer a safehaven for terrorism, but also to nurture the emergence of a stable, accountable, democratic state, capable of governing justly and delivering essential goods to its people.
You know, in a lot of the statements that the Obama administration have made, the appearance is that -- of, sort of, downplaying expectations about that ultimate end-state, and shifting, obviously, focus to greater counterinsurgency operations. I mean, this raises a number of questions, and one of them is whether or not state building -- whether or not it's been tried to date, should remain a central international objective, or whether or not the international community, depending on how it embraces this strategy, will adopt more modest, short-term aims related to a counterinsurgency. They're not necessarily mutually exclusive, but institution-building, at the same time as fighting a counterinsurgency, can be an extremely difficult enterprise one would imagine.
RUBIN: If I can just make, before -- not to forget my colleagues here, but just one very important point. There are no international terrorist safehavens in Afghanistan today. I repeat: There are no international terrorist safehavens in Afghanistan today. The international terrorist safehavens in the region are, according to U.S. intelligence agencies -- as reported in the press, in Pakistan.
I think you may have heard someone say earlier that the strategic objective is in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan. Therefore, however, all the discussion -- the NATO mission it's on -- is about Afghanistan and, marginally, how to get better Pakistani cooperation. That is, I would say, completely out of synch with the reality on the ground.
PATRICK: Do you have any comments on the implications of a switch to more of a counterinsurgency policy, and perhaps less -- at least a less gold-plated vision about where -- what an end-state in Afghanistan would be, and whether or not, from your knowledge of the European countries and governments, and other members of the international community will be enthusiastic about signing up to that sort of a policy?
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO: Well, first, when we say counterinsurgency, I mean, we raised the bar pretty high actually, because, if I read the U.S. counterinsurgency manual I see ratios of 20 to 25 soldiers per 1,000 civilians. So, if you apply those ratios to Afghanistan, even after a significant surge in troops, you are a long way from that.
I think the quality of the military response really depends on the clarity of the political question, and that's where we have been muddled, in a way, ever since the beginning. Because, I remember, 2001, the discussions going into Kabul, that it would not be a good thing if the Northern Alliance rushed into Kabul; it would be better to have a neutral force there. But, I mean, expediency was the -- made them, created a necessity there.
So te whole effort was saved, in a way, as one part of Afghanistan winning a victory against the Talibans with air support and some additional aid from the United States. And that, from the outset, raises a question on the kind of political contract that one needs in Afghanistan.
In the previous discussion -- and I very much agree with what Barney said, when we talk about having a good police, a good army, all that I think is important. But the fundamental is what is the political arrangement that underpins Afghanistan? It's particularly important when you talk about the security sector. A police or an army do not exist in a vacuum. They represent -- they are people with guns who represent different components.
So, that is what has been very unclear, and that needs to be clarified. I think today, in Afghanistan, if Afghanistan is not to be the heart of the -- I mean, it's not the safehaven, as was said by Barney, of al Qaeda terrorists. The issue is just how to have an Afghanistan that is stable enough that it doesn't become a problem that reverberates on its neighbors, including Pakistan, which is a big issue. So, it's a different -- it's a different goal. It's a more --
PATRICK: Is it much more minimalist then?
GUEHENNO: It requires, I think, to have a unified political vision of the goals, which I don't think exists today. It requires to have clarity, with the Afghan partners and within the international community, on what our war aims, so to speak, are. And that clarity is not -- I mean, obvious, I think, today. That's why, I mean, a strategic review is very much welcome, because it's a way to begin to bring the clarity.
And from that, a lot of things can be, I mean, discussed. Yes, there may be a need for a more focused reconstruction, for a more focused this or that, but if it's not being -- if there is not the political vision that underpins it, it will be a lot of more wasted money.
The PRTs, it's very good in any military operation to have hearts-and-minds campaigns. That exists in any -- in every good peace operation. But, it's quite another thing to have a development, reconstruction policy that is, in a way, in an adjunct to a military effort. That leads to fragmentation, and that also defeats the whole purpose of building up Afghan structures, which is what we all want.
And I think there there is a great risk of having a fairly disjointed effort. You see PRTs in Afghanistan which are doing a remarkable job, but, depending on how rich this or that country is, you see some particular province where the effort is extremely limited, also, although the poverty is extreme; another place where there's a lot of money, and so a lot of roads, and things and -- very good to have all those roads built. Is there any political logic to it? Is there any deep economic logic to it? I'm not so sure.
PATRICK: Ali, is this strategic -- could you speak a bit about the strategic review and the changing -- where you see the calculus of ends and means going and the degree to which the Afghan government is, in a sense, a full partner in this effort?
ALI JALALI: Well, there's has been a lot of confusion in the past seven years. I think we've never had a clear idea of what is the end-state, or what is the goal of the strategy -- (inaudible).
It was a complicated situation, very complex situation after 30 years of war and violence. And then the response was even more difficult. The -- Operation Enduring Freedom actually succeeded within two months to remove the Taliban, but -- although they were not defeated, they crossed the border -- (inaudible) -- they wait -- waited for another opportunity.
And then there was a narrow focus on terrorism. The terrorist was not there in Afghanistan. They just went to Pakistan. But at that time, that Operation Enduring Freedom was reluctant to deal with other sources of instability in Afghanistan, which warlordism, illegal armed groups, militia, and others.
At that time there was a jargon -- that Afghans who were fighting each other, militias fighting each other, and the civilian populations suffered, they used to call them "green-on-green." And green-on-green was not the concern of the Coalition Forces. They were after the terrorists, who were no longer in Afghanistan. What they were, you know, going after, they were just "supposedly" potential terrorists, which actually undermined all efforts of counterinsurgency later on.
And then NATO took over. NATO actually signed up for something which was also very, very unclear -- for peacekeeping operations. And that was incremental, that -- (inaudible) -- incremental. Countries who -- the NATO members came from -- with different levels of commitment, different (levels of ?) resources, different procedures, different perception of threat.
In many cases, you know, the PRTs, which was the -- actually, the means of building stability and reconstruction in Afghanistan, many PRTs actually were trying to, instead of extending the authority of the central government, they were trying to reach out to local thugs and local influential people, so that they can create a "sense" of, a kind of a soundness of stability in the area.
Now the reconstruction PRTs are not the -- the clear need for reconstruction -- reconstruction of state. And I think if there is no centrality of a state in reconstruction and development, whatever you do is uncoordinated, transient and not sustainable. So, therefore, the challenge of Afghanistan, the facing of -- or the transition of Afghanistan from conflict to peace and stability, is the challenge of state building. State that was destroyed during 30 years.
You have to have -- yes, you cannot build a -- (inaudible) -- or kind of a Jeffersonian democracy overnight, but at least you have to build a government that can control its territory; that can win the trust of its people; that can deliver services; develop an economy steadily; and also govern its people justly. That's something that you have to do.
You cannot do this by -- in Afghanistan you do what you can. You have to do what it takes to do this. So, therefore, I think it is -- it is from Day One. We are paying for all these, you know, missteps that we took -- (inaudible). Now, yes -- I don't know, the new strategy -- if there is a, you know, clearly defined end-state, and then you know what you need for it.
However, if we, from Day One, or from start we said that we are going to scale back, and we are going to, you know, fight insurgency, and not state building, well, for counterinsurgency you have to build the government because it is all -- what is at stake is the government.
The insurgents and the counterinsurgents are fighting for the hearts and minds of people who can give them a good government, that can win their trust, that can deliver services, that can protect them. They have to do this. Without building the state, or building the capacity in the government, you cannot defeat the insurgents --
PATRICK: Let me pick up on that, in a couple of senses. You know, you make a very good point. And, I think, in general -- I'm not an expert on counterinsurgency theory, but at least intuitively, that a counterinsurgency will only really work if you have a government that has some modicum of legitimacy amongst its people.
And, you know, as you well know, and you struggled against, the tremendous infiltration of the Afghan government by corrupt individuals, by people involved in the narcotics trafficking, et cetera, creates distinct challenges there. Many critics, some German leaders as well, have said that, you know -- noted that the war will not be won on the battlefield. But I guess, in some ways, the question is, can it be won politically in the current environment that's -- that has come down through the Bonn process?
I'm wondering whether or not, at this stage, you know -- one needs to think about a transition either to another system, or does one wait until the election. Is that going to be the pivotal situation in which one could begin to build greater legitimacy of the current government? Because if it's dependent on the cast of characters who are there, one wonders whether or not this external support for a counterinsurgency will actually be successful.
Does anyone want to take a --
JALALI: Just briefly, I would say that elections do not bring democracy. You know, we had elections in the past -- presidential elections and parliamentary elections. Democracy or stability comes through the rule of law and bringing positive change to lots of people. That was trapping of democracy.
Yes, the elections took place. Afghans participated massively in these elections, you know, hoping that this will bring them some kind of stability, and then a better life. However, in the same time, sufficient investment was not made in building institutions -- police, army and the justice sector. What was done in the name of demobilization, disarming and the integration of militias, that was something that -- they demobilized it but dumped it on police.
Actually, it was transformed from a militia to police. That was the main reason of the police, that you could never fix the police. All of a sudden the militia corps commanders became police chiefs of provinces, and they brought all their cronies from these militias to police provinces, and loaded the police departments there.
And no significant attention was paid to institution-building. We were also only concerned about showing some trappings of democracy. Now it's elections, the same thing. Whoever comes to win this election is not important. What is important is, is it legitimate? Is it free? Or, when somebody is elected, does he have the capacity and the means to build institutions? That has -- (inaudible).
PATRICK: Barney did you have -- did you want --
RUBIN: Well, I want to go back to something I said earlier and remark on something Jean-Marie said.
First, we should distinguish between war aims -- the reasons for which we are fighting a war, and our objectives in the region. We have lots of interests in many countries and regions all around the world without getting involved in wars. So, everything we want to do in Afghanistan, Central and South Asia, does not depend on keeping troops fighting there until we do it. So, the concept of end-state is very deceptive.
Second, there are different timeframes for these different activities. But, what Jean-Marie said is that without -- you need to have a political basis for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Now, I agree with Ali -- and, of course, I have written about it extensively, including some official documents that enshrine this idea, that the international community and the United States need to work with Afghans -- and I should also mentioned the Pakistanis and others, to help them build institutions so that they can control their territory for the sake of their own security and for the sake of ours.
However, that is a long-term project. And also, it cannot be solved with more money, more troops, or more anything else if you don't have the basic political agreement. Like, there -- there are two things everyone agrees about Afghanistan: One is, there's no military solution; and the second is, we need more troops.
Now, what is the connection between these two indisputable propositions? The answer is, you don't need more troops, you need an army. And, as Bill said -- well, it was in off-the-record, as someone said some time or other -- (laughter) -- you know, training 200,000 foot soldiers does not create an army. It's an institution, and it requires a lot more than that. Same for all these other institutions.
Now, where is the -- where is the political problem? Well, roughly speaking, there are two political problems, or classes of political problems dealing with the Afghan state: One is the relationship of that state to its population; and the other is the relationship of that state to its neighbors.
And, you know, I would -- those are both serious problems, but I would say, in the discourse and discussion about the political conditions for starting this process of building a more capable, legitimate Afghan state -- certainly in this country and certainly in NATO, we overemphasize, important as it is, the questions of domestic political governance in Afghanistan and we radically underestimate the importance of the regional conditions.
You know, Afghanistan is tied for last place as the poorest country in the world with a few countries in Africa. I recently learned that, in the course of the recent strategic review in the U.S. government, many senior officials of the previous administration learned that for the first time in the final year of their administration. Afghanistan has the weakest government in the world, except for Somalia which has no government, as measured by the proportion of the GDP that it collects in taxes.
The government of Afghanistan has a domestic revenue which is 25 percent the size of the gross profits of the narcotics industry. So, when you hear people talk about pressuring the Afghan government to arrest narcotics kingpins, you should wonder what is this Afghan government that they're talking about, because the narcotics industry is much bigger and more powerful than the government. In fact, or supplemental appropriation for Afghanistan every year is bigger than the GDP of Afghanistan.
So, a lot of the discussions about the country are based on some imaginary country that actually doesn't exist. And the region also, I may say -- limited to what I can say here in an on-the-record meeting, but viewed from the point of view of many people in the region, I would say almost everyone in the region, and some outside, our strategic orientation in the region, what countries we consider to be our allies and what countries we consider to be our enemies appears to have little relationship to reality and what they are actually doing on the ground.
If, in fact, the war in Afghanistan is important to us, we should analyze what countries are supporting the government and what countries are supporting the opposition, and that should at least have some effect on how we -- on how we define our relationships with those countries. But it looks to many people in the region that it does not.
PATRICK: Did you have --
GUEHENNO: Well, I very much agree with everything Barney and Ali said.
I think there are different timeframes. State building is a long-term process. And what we have to aim at is power -- a dynamic so that eventually there is the capacity to self-sustain. But, functioning institutions in the various provinces, that would take -- that will take years and years. And so the real issue there is the political deal.
And there, what I would add is that we have conflicting aims, because it's one thing to say, "We want a government, administration that delivers services to its people" -- the Afghans, like every human being on earth, want schools, medical facilities, basic services, at the same time, we are saying we need to cut deals with tribal leaders. And, indeed, we need to, but the two are not always pushing in the same direction.
I remember a province where there were four major tribes in that province. So the chief of police was from one tribe, the governor from a second tribe, the local army -- the army commander from a third tribe, and intelligence from the fourth. All that was changed with people who were actually better, but some problems arose.
I think the operational implication of that is that you need a political direction of the effort that is very close to the ground -- very close. It cannot be -- it's not the NATO Council, or any organization thousands of miles away which is going to do it. It has to be done in-theatre, because that's where you understand the dynamics and that's where you can have clarity with your Afghan partners. If you try to design some political strategy thousands of miles away, it will not work.
PATRICK: Let me try a couple of propositions and see if you agree with them. When people have talked about counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan there has been a lot of, sort of, fast and loose analogies with, you know, the Arab Awakening (sic) -- the Sunni Awakening in Iraq, the notions of -- and there have been, over the last several years there have been many cases where the U.S. has at least temporarily funded tribal, or warlord, militias, et cetera, to actually take part, or to be part of the panoply of security instruments that could be used against the insurgency.
Am I right in thinking that you would all agree that that is a big mistake for a number of different reasons, but largely because it would undermine the broader goal of security sector reform?
RUBIN: The main reason it's completely inapplicable is that the insurgency in Iraq was based in Iraq, and the insurgency in Afghanistan is not based in Afghanistan.
JALALI: I think there is one thing that we always neglect in Afghanistan. The tribal-state relationship is different from Iraq. On the other hand in Afghanistan, tribes and state are two elements of one system. They work when that system is there.
In Afghanistan, traditionally, tribes supported the state both in fighting invasions and also providing or helping in domestic security. However, they did this when they believed in the legitimacy and sustainability of the government -- that they can do, they influence. Once they see the government or the state is losing influence and/or legitimacy, they go to their local networks. Then they make the decision the way they think is good for them.
So, therefore, in the current situation, when Afghan state or government -- as Barney said, is very weak, in that kind of situation a tribe will think first, what is the best way for it, what is its interest whether to become -- to make a tribal fighter a government soldiers or a government, you know, collaborator; or use it a different way.
On the other hand, in Afghanistan the tribal system has transformed during this war. The traditional leaders are no longer. They are sidelined. Those who are influential in tribes and in the local communities, they are those who are -- either they have money, or guns or have links with the strong, sometimes extremist forces and groups in Afghanistan or across the border.
So, therefore, unless Afghan government first shows some kinds of influence in an area, it will be difficult to -- for a -- (inaudible) -- tribe which will fighting in -- (inaudible) -- to accept the government, "Okay, we will fight for you," when they see that the government does not have an interest there.
Last year -- or in 2007, Afghanistan created two battalions, the militia battalions from (Barakzai ?) tribe in Farah Province, after the situation in Farah became, you know, very difficult. And that (Barakzai ?) tribe -- (Barakzai ?) tribe is a minority in Farah. Mizrahis are the dominant tribe. So, what they did, they started fighting Mizrahis. And only Taliban exploited the situation. They did benefit the situation.
As long as the government does not have that kind of a clout, that kind of an influence, arming the tribes or winning their support is something -- they will take your money, they will take your weapons, like they did in 2006, and they'll go. They said 73,000 weapons for use. Weapons are not accounted for. What happened to them? They were just -- these people who are armed and they're no longer with the government.
PATRICK: Given -- did you have --
GUEHENNO: Barney and Ali know much more about Afghanistan than I do. I think the only delicate issue is the balance between the center and the various provinces. How, on the one hand you give an interest to all the provinces in a government that will allocate some resources, that will help the provinces; and at the same time you don't create a sense of disenfranchisement from the provinces.
And that's -- there is no blanket answer to that. One has to look at every specific -- (audio break). Politics is local, and I think the word was -- the expression was created in this town but it applies to Afghanistan too.
PATRICK: Barney, given the regional dynamics and the role of Pakistan as being, as you put it, "the source of the insurgency," I would assume that any political movement to -- you know, there's a lot of talk about reconciliation with aspects of the Taliban, and perhaps even entry into -- ranging from amnesty to entering into a power-sharing arrangement -- I assume that those are a mirage, unless they're a broader regional issue, and some sort of arrangement between Pakistan and Afghanistan, it's integrated within a regional structure, occurs. Is that -- would that be accurate?
I just want to clarify one thing, which is I don't believe I said that Pakistan was the source of the insurgency. And I wouldn't like any misunderstanding on that score. I talked about where the bases of the insurgency may be, and so on, and I said they appear to be outside the country. But, sources of insurgency are, of course, multiple, including all the issues that we have been discussing.
You know, there are different -- the insurgency is much more complex than is usually recognized. It is not just a Taliban insurgency, as if it is, you know, directed by -- it's not like, you know, the Viet Cong, or something like that, led by a democratic centralist party and a chain of command and control. It is, like most things in that region, it is decentralized. It contains multiple factions.
And certainly there is a lot of margin for co-opting and pacifying, including various elements of the insurgency, to some extent independent of the regional factions -- regional situation. And I'll go back to one point that was made earlier. Someone mentioned David Kilcullen's book, "The Accidental Guerilla," one of the themes of which is that we -- is that our military intervention and the policies that we pursue can help, in many cases, to amplify rather than to reduce insurgency. And some of our policies do that.
So, counterinsurgency is not only about the enemy, it is also about ourselves. For instance, the use of counterterrorism operations and tactics in what is not really a counterterrorism situation, but a counterinsurgency one, is very counterproductive. That is, sending Special Forces on night missions to kill and capture somebody who is a mid-level Taliban commander in an unimportant province. I mean, why -- and, thereby alienating the whole village and the whole region.
Our policy on detention and sanctions, which place local insurgents and leaders of al-Qaeda in the same category, and mete out to them the same treatment, are obstacles toward -- to political inclusion of, and integration of, insurgents.
Ali can tell you that when he was minister of the interior he was approached several times by very senior leaders of the insurgency, and that one of the major obstacles that he had in trying to offer them political inclusion was that he had no way of guaranteeing that -- if I may put it bluntly, they would not be seized and sent to Guantanamo.
The Afghan government has no way of doing that. Actually, I understand the U.S. government had no way of doing that either because there were so many different agencies who were involved in the counterterrorism mission, which was a very high priority for the government.
So, I think there are a lot of changes we can make in our own policy. Ultimately, yes, the stabilization of Afghanistan -- a necessary condition for that will be a regional agreement so that no country in the region sees that Afghanistan is being used as a base for hostile forces, that it needs to be stabilized.
PATRICK: I want to move now -- before opening it up to everyone here, to ask Jean-Marie if he can reflect on the international community's involvement in Afghanistan and the relationship between NATO, between UNAMA, between the other -- the Afghan government, et cetera, and whether or not there are any lessons there about how to, and how not to orchestrate unity of effort. Because this, obviously, is a continuing major thrust of the comprehensive effort that General Eikenberry spoke to us about, but will also presumably be central to the success of NATO, or its failure, in other out-of-area operations that may or not take place.
GUEHENNO: Well, I would start by saying that it has worked much better in some ways than it should have -- (laughs) -- in the sense that -- because of great personalities in command of ISAF, because of people like Brahimi on the U.N. side, Kai Eide, now; institutional issues that could have made the military efforts completely disjointed from the political efforts of the international community, because personal interaction between those leaders -- many of the problems were avoided.
That being said, I think we have a somewhat dysfunctional set-up, in the sense that if we are in a situation where the use of force, including lethal force, is just a tool in support of a much broader strategy, it needs to be fine-tuned with policy directives coming from the theater. And there, today we have a situation where you have the Special Operations -- that sometimes even the commanders in ISAF are not maybe fully aware, you have the Enduring Freedom operation, and you have ISAF.
The integration of the military effort is not perfect, to be -- I mean, to put it honestly. And the integration of the military efforts within the political strategy, all the things that were discussed -- when should one hit a particular warlord, when should one negotiate with that warlord, these are political issues where really they are -- as the point I was making when I said the quality of the military response depends on the clarity of the political directive, we don't have it.
Then the orchestration with the other elements of the efforts: In some way -- I mean, the reconstruction, the development effort, in some ways Afghanistan has been luckier than many post-conflict countries. It has had huge conference where billions of dollars have been committed. The reality is that, for the Afghans, they have seen those big numbers. Money has been spent -- when you see the ring roads, when you see a number of things that have been done. I mean, it's not that nothing has happened.
But, in terms of the direct impact on the people, and, more importantly, in terms of what Ali was saying -- the sense that that effort was helping build an Afghan government, and the balance between that Afghan government and the various provinces, that has been completely lost. Because, I think it was Barney who was saying, when the PRTs, they, like anybody, would do -- I mean, they want to relate directly to their local interlocutors.
And the government of Afghanistan gets -- is short-circuited in many situations, to have the information on the various bilateral programs, the programs coming from the PRTs, to have that -- to have that clearly controlled by a very, as was said, by a government that has very few resources, very weak administrative structures. That does not really happen.
There have been some success stories. I think the World Bank, National Solidarity Program, which, I mean, actually was, at the time, the minister (sic) of rural development. So, with a link, a strong link to a central ministry to make sure that there was -- that the government of Afghanistan was part of the picture; and then a strong link with local communities, defining their needs, and the money coming relatively quickly for projects defined by communities, that was something that killed several birds with one stone. That responded to local needs, empowered local communities, and at the same time did not short-circuit the government of Afghanistan.
But, on the whole, there is no comprehensive architecture. There have been efforts. There is the JC -- the so-called "JCB." But it's a very cumbersome structure. I don't think that it has delivered what was expected. There is, I mean, the smaller format of the so-called "Tea Club," which is a kind of war cabinet between the Afghan authorities and the international community. But, myself, I'm a tea drinker, so I should not criticize that. But, I think it says something -- (laughs) -- about the way we operate, that we just call -- we can just call it a "Tea Club." It's -- it is not a forceful mechanism to really develop a strategy.
It's certainly much better than nothing. It certainly has helped create a measure of common understanding between the international efforts and the Afghan authorities but all that is very ad hoc and, I think, fairly weak.
And then there's the last point, which is the whole issue of legitimacy, which, I think, for any reconstruction effort is fundamental. It's not a technicality, it's how you are accepted by the people you have come to help.
And there -- and I speak in my former UN capacity -- it's true that the UN because it stayed through thick and thin in Afghanistan has had over the years a certain degree of legitimacy, which probably is not today what it was some years ago but which was there.
I think NATO, EU, because they are seen inevitably for what they are, western organizations, do not have the same, as much, legitimacy. And it's important to gain that legitimacy, and I think it's possible because NATO and EU are doing a lot of things.
But I think the way it is presented is to be when there are the issues of the use of force it is very important and it's not so much -- (inaudible). It's very important in the use of force that you don't alienate the population. But it is also in terms of presentation, that the western efforts -- in my personal view, it's very important that it be seen as a contribution to a broader global effort, that the Afghan effort not be seen as a war of the west. That's the best way -- that would be the best way to bring together against you a number of people in Afghanistan and in the neighboring countries. That would not be part of that.
So the way the NATO effort is presented, the way the EU effort is presented, I think, would be very important for the acceptability of that effort. And that has a bearing for the region, because as was said, we need the support of the neighbors. We need the support of Pakistan. We need also the support of Iran. We need the support of the bigger circle. We need the support of Russia. We need the support of China. And so this effort has to be seen as a global effort. It cannot be just a western effort because any of the countries mentioned has enough clout and influence to make things much more complicated if it doesn't feel that it's -- what is being done in Afghanistan is part of that broader effort.
There was that moment in the beginning of 2001, although with a lot of suspicions at the time, but there was -- because of 9/11 because of -- there was a certain moment of unanimity. That is long gone and that needs to be rebuilt.
PATRICK: Barney, do you want to summarize some of the arguments that you and Ahmed Rashid made about the -- what that regional structure might look like or where -- at least your arguments in the --
RUBIN: In the Foreign Affairs article. Well what has happened is that as more and more countries have become -- and international organizations, including NATO have become involved in Afghanistan they have imported their conflicts with each other into Afghanistan as well so that if -- of course, Afghanistan borders on Pakistan and is close to India so there is one of the conflicts that has the most impact on Afghanistan is actually the Indo Pakistan conflict because both of those countries are involved there. Pakistan, in particular, feels that is may be threatened by and Indian presence in Afghanistan.
The U.S. and Iran originally collaborated quite closely in 2001 both diplomatically and on the ground militarily in removing Al Qaeda and Taliban regime. But after the U.S. put Iran on the list of the Axis of Evil and our policy went in a different direction Iran eventually concluded that its interest in deterring the United States was even more important than its interest in stabilizing Afghanistan. So the conflict between the United States and Iran had an impact in Afghanistan.
Of course, Russia would very much like the United States and NATO to defeat terrorism insurgency, al Qaeda, and so on in Afghanistan and in the region but, as everyone knows, Russia views the consolidation of NATO bases in countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union and (inaudible) to its borders as a security threat.
And therefore -- actually the mobilization of NATO for the operation in Afghanistan has created a similar kind of conflict contradiction within Russia's policy. They would like to see the operation succeed and then they would like NATO to leave. And they don't feel as though they have that guarantee at this point, quite the contrary.
So it's particularly because the government of Afghanistan itself is relatively weak and, in fact, the country was set up in its current form, although it has many historical roots going back a long time, but it was set up in its current form as a buffer state. It really relies on some kind of strategic consensus among great powers and regional powers on not destabilizing it as a key condition of its stability.
Now that has become much more complicated than it was when you were in the 19th century when basically you had a deal between the British Empire and the Russian Empire. More complicated even than it was during the Cold War when you had a similar bilateral sort of conflict.
Now you have this multilateral conflict that -- a multilateral set of conflicts, that I mentioned, overlaid with, I should say, the internal situation in Afghanistan itself where various ethnic groups, factions, armed commanders and so on, in turn, have developed long term (patronage?) relations with the various actors involved in these international conflicts. So it's become a much more demanding task.
On the other hand, I'll just end with this, there is opportunity that didn't exist before, namely, that because of the growth of trade, the development of economies of India and China, the importance of energy resources in Central Asia, there is now also potentially more profit in investing in that region, especially in making Afghanistan into some kind of a transit area in which the neighboring countries would all have a stake. But that will not happen until they are confident that it will not be used as a source of security threats against them.
PATRICK: Thank you.
I think now I'd like to open it up to the audience. I'm sure we have lots of questions. I'll take them -- let's take them one at a time actually for starters.
Please state your name and your affiliation and if you have a person to direct the question to, please do so.
QUESTIONER: General Nash from the Council.
I'd like to get all three of your view of the factor of time. Basically, my question is do we have time to get it right given the power that narco state, narco industry, the rise and strength of those who oppose the international presence and the current government of Afghanistan? What I would describe as a decreasing tolerance of the people, of the citizens of Afghanistan for foreign presence and the need to figure out what we want to do and marshal the resources to do it, which, of course, will take a while.
Do we have time before Afghanistan and Pakistan, to use an expression, descend into a chaos that's so great we can't get there from here, realizing, of course, that the problem we define today, by the time we could marshal those resources and coordinate the various players, the problem will be different by the time we introduce our new revised smart capacities.
So, my question to you is have we got the time to do this?
PATRICK: Ali do you want to take a stab at that?
JALALI: We have lost a lot of time, we lost a lot of time in this past last seven years, eight years. Yes, we do not have much time.
On the other hand, if what one you said would make sense. That takes a long time because countries do not base their policies of economic issues mostly on geopolitical issues, security issues.
I think these suspicions are so deep that instead of going and asking these countries to come to consensus in order to stabilize Afghanistan -- why don't you stabilize Afghanistan to be it -- by itself, it'd become a factor.
If Afghanistan, we stabilize Afghanistan, if the government, the state, wins the trust of the people like in the past they can cooperate. Then I think that becomes a major factor in stabilization, not only for Afghanistan but for the region itself.
On the other hand, in Afghanistan the situation, as Barney said, is a battlefield of many, many states. I think the -- for example, if Iran -- I think several times, you know, ask Afghanistan to sign the non -- you know, aggression treaty with Afghanistan. That was not accepted by partners of Afghanistan.
So if that opposition should drop, probably that will help. But these deep, you know, conflicts between India and Pakistan, if you wait for that to settle, I think it will be -- you know, we do not have that much time.
On the other hand, the other side, the terrorists, the insurgents, whatever you call them, they have a lot of time. In Afghanistan all rebellions had one strategy, traditionally, historically. In -- (inaudible) -- they call it long-termism, outlast the other side. They don't lose anything. They can wait for the other side. So I'm afraid that we will lose this battle by that strategy of long-termism.
PATRICK: Barney do you have --
RUBIN: Well first I would like to add something to Bill's question, which he surprisingly neglected to put in there. Do we have time before our economy collapses to the point that we won't be able to have that much of a foreign policy? Certainly you're not in very distant parts of the world. Because we are talking about increasing resources so -- and that's something certainly the Afghan and Pakistani delegations who have been here this week were very impressed by all the talk they heard about the collapse of the American economy and one of them said to me, we're embarrassed to ask for any money now because we see that America is so poor. So I encouraged him nonetheless. (Laughter.) Noting that what they wanted was a rounding error.
Look, the answer is, obviously the answer is we don't know and I think I would just --
PATRICK: Yeah, alas we paid them squadoosh.
RUBIN: Well, I think it's very important for you to understand that we don't know. But we -- the thing is -- as a number of us have said in different ways, different objectives have different time frames. We should not think that we can solve the problem of international terrorism by building a stable state in Afghanistan and by resolving the conflict between India and Pakistan because the time frames for those things are quite different.
So we should have plans that are going along all of those lines but we should -- we have to try to separate those things that we need to do more quickly, which perhaps can involve simpler forms of political agreement, some military activities, and some -- and really some changes in our own policies, which are easier to implement than other people's views of the world in order to accomplish those.
GUEHENNO: I think if the fighters have the perception that we don't have the time the -- of course, it's lost. And so the issue is to make clear that there is a certain sense of determination but at the same time to understand that this is the time to move toward political arrangement as was set.
State-building, of course, it's a much longer process. But that within a limited period of time there would be a possibility for political progress. I think that that's doable, that's possible, that's why I'm not -- I refuse to be a pessimist on Afghanistan. But the perception of the military commitment is important to use that period because if the perception is that the military commitment is weak, uncertain, then indeed it makes it more difficult to use the period that is before us.
PATRICK: Let me take two. Judith Kipper and then Anya Schmemann.
QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. It's -- after all these years it's still not clear to me what it means to lose in Afghanistan or to win, so I don't want to go to either one of those extremes. But I would like, Barney, to ask you, though one can presume from many of your extremely good and subtle answers, what you think should be the changes or priorities or the goals in the near term for U.S. policy. And what are the two or three things that the U.S. might do in the next three months, six months, this year to show the Afghan people that we're thinking about them, that we're not just doing this for us?
And Jean-Marie I wanted to just comment on what you said five or 10 minutes ago that, you know, the presentation, it's so much more important to speak the culture than it is to speak the language.
PATRICK: Thank you. Anya.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Anya Schmemann, Council on Foreign Relations.
I wanted to pick up on one of Bill's threads and ask about drugs. Should NATO be involved in counternarcotics? And how can civilian and military authorities cooperate on this issue?
PATRICK: Barney do you want to take the two or three things?
RUBIN: Well, I know that Judith said my answers were subtle, which I know is not a compliment in Washington. (Laughter.) Thank you.
I don't want to give specific recommendations for what this administration should or shouldn't do. There's a review that is going on. I'll just say, you know, I -- just based on what I've said so far and what I've written, I think we have to make the regional issues a very high priority and we have to be realistic about them. It means that in our bilateral relations with the countries around Afghanistan I believe we need to take in to account their interests in this region much more strongly than we have done, in particular, with respect to Iran where, although we have divergent interests in other areas, we do have converging interest. And if we were to increase our cooperation with Iran and Afghanistan I believe that that would have some effect on other neighbors of Afghanistan as well as it did in the past, a healthy one.
Then I mentioned before that I thought it was inappropriate to use some of the very aggressive counterterrorism techniques in Afghanistan because actually terrorist sanctuaries are not actually present there at the moment and as a result we end up going after targets who are not really threats to international peace and security. Or perhaps not even threats to the security of Jalalabad in some cases. But which, nonetheless, can create opposition to the civilian casualties.
So one of the things the government, President Obama, has already done which is important is determining is banning torture, which is not just a symbolic issue. People there are very much aware of it. They mention to me in conversations very often Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and they have -- they appreciate this change. It has an effect on them because many of them have, at least in some parts of the country, have relatives that have been through this process. And, of course, in a tribal society, which is a highly networked society you have very much larger reverberations of something that happens to an individual than you do in a more individualistic society.
I think that the question of narcotics is one, again, where we need to be -- we need to be clear about the time frames. Most are virtually, I would say all, experts on counternarcotics say that the minimum amount of time you need to cope with a narcotics economy the size of Afghanistan, which is to say approximately one third of the total economy or far more than any other country in the world, perhaps ever, is at least 15 years, 15 to 20 years. I'm trying to accelerate that because you need to have a counter -- to make it part of a counterinsurgency program over the next two to three years simply leads to ineffective counternarcotics and ineffective counterinsurgency.
So I think that, in my analysis anyway, the narcotics problem in Afghanistan is the result not the cause of the lack of security and rule of law in the country.
So we need to be very strategic, again given limited resources, and focus on the main problem which actually is the role of high level political protectors of the narcotics industry in the Afghan government. It is not farmers growing poppy. It is not even narcotics traffickers. But actually because of their role in counterterrorism, sometimes the one thing that we have been the most reluctant to do is to remove high level protectors of narcotics, of the narcotics industry in the Afghan government.
PATRICK: Ali I'll assume that's part of your portfolio.
JALALI: Yes, I totally agree with Barney and we have always said the same thing about this counternarcotics. In the past seven years, you know, different methods were tried and because they were not, you know, taking into consideration the real situation, the real problem in Afghanistan. Unless you have security, unless you have good governance, the rule of law and an influence in the area I don't think it will be possible to -- eradication is not going to be a solution. You can eradicate and destroy all the poppies in Afghanistan but you cannot sustain it.
Even in the north where security is good, I think when the people, as Barney said, there are influential people in the government that can promote it.
Now, I think, poppies has been replaced by cannabis, by opiate -- I mean, by hashish.
So, therefore, this is a problem of security and it's a problem of government, it's a problem of economy. You have to mainstream it in all these areas. There's a developmental problem.
But the time, I don't know. You know, in -- once I was talking to farmers in Farah Province. I said why you grow poppies. He said, give me water, I spent $1,000 this year to buy fuel for water pump. And for $1,000 I get enough water to irrigate one hectare of land. One hectare of land of poppy gives him $5,000. One hectare of wheat gives me $500. Give me water then I will stop it.
In Badakhshan I asked the same question from people. I said why you do -- you have water. He said, if you go after that guy and arrest him then I will promise I will not grow poppies because he's forcing and I am indebted to him and he actually -- I cannot leave my home to escape from his influence. If you have the power to go after that guy then I will stop the poppies. In Afghanistan the same way.
QUESTIONER: So did you arrest him?
JALALI: No because, you know, there's a long story that maybe I'll tell you one day.
And the other thing is that in Afghanistan the going after these people who are involved in trafficking and supporting trafficking, it's a political problem now. It's not a legal problem that you have this -- (inaudible) -- you go and arrest that person. The government does not have that capacity to do this, as Barney said earlier.
You know, in the past seven years there was -- I saw two levels of disenchantment. In the level of grass roots people thought that the government failed them, the international community failed them. So it was mainly because they were, you know, pushed to all the insurgents that either they cooperated with them or they did not stand against them, despite the fact they don't like them to come back.
At the government level the same way. The government also thought the international community, that their neighbors actually did not support them so they can -- that was also the dangerous things because it pushed that government toward making deals with those who are involved in all these -- (inaudible).
So therefore it is very complicated issue. It is not something like you go and pressure the government or go and purge, you know, the corrupt officials. The corrupt officials -- (inaudible). I think that several times said that you are talk to that person is a corrupt governor in Helmand when he was there. There was the Taliban that when you move him the Taliban will also get the drugs. So this is a very complicated situation.
PATRICK: Let's go with Spurgeon and then Mr. Vasser, is it?
QUESTIONER: Spurgeon Keeny, National Academy of Sciences.
I must say I was discouraged by General Eikenberry's estimate of five to 10 years of military presence required and your panel's suggestion a few moments ago that it might be 15 years. And I would note that the Russian's had considerable experience before that in recent times, six years or so.
I would be interested in the panels contrast of the situation involving the Russian's in the '80's and the situations we face now. And particularly, are there any lessons we can learn from the Soviet, actually Soviet's experience in Afghanistan relevant to our own policy making today?
PATRICK: Thank you. Mr. Vasser.
QUESTIONER: I want to comment on the question and the answers on counternarcotics and then to put a slightly separate question to Jean-Marie.
I agreed with Barney very much about the need for a well thought out, well coordinated, long term counternarcotics strategy. I think that's been axiomatic from the beginning.
But I do think that the increasingly nexus between the narcotraffickers and the insurgency has made ISAF and military action against elements of narcotics trade a matter of now forced protection in some parts of the country. And it varies, obviously, from region to region. Helmand is particularly bad -- Oruzgan.
But the linkage is so clear and so compelling that it's moving now into a slightly different phase. And I would say there have been a couple of recent operations in Helmand that have been quite well reported in the press that have yielded very significant caches, not only of narcotics but of weapons clearly linked to rather unpleasant action against Afghan and international forces.
But I do agree that this must be an Afghan owned initiative and an Afghan owned strategy and that the international community has to come in behind them.
Jean-Marie I agree very much with what you say about not making this a war of the west. It's not really a war anyway, it's a counterinsurgency. But whatever it is it has to be widely and internationally shared. And actually the UN is probably the best standard bearer to symbolize that.
And I wanted to ask you why you think, beyond the normal bureaucratic business of getting the sources out of the system in -- (inaudible) -- it has been so difficult to expand UNANMID's reach across the country?
PATRICK: Let's start with the, perhaps, with the question of Russian, with the Soviet Union experience. Ali, as someone who fought the Soviet Union perhaps you're well placed to discuss the difference between their behavior and the current international effort.
JALALI: Yes, I hear this kind of comparison often. I was insurgent at the time of Soviet invasion and counterinsurgence this time. So I have seen conflict from the opposing sides.
There's a lot of difference between the two, maybe in tactical levels, operation level, we see some similarities on the battlefield. But there is a major contrast. When the Soviet invasion took place there was already a resistance against the government which was, you know, backed by Moscow. And it was an ideological resistance against that government.
In the Soviet invasion, in fact, popped up an unpopular regime. The international intervention of Gaza in 2001 removed the unpopular regime.
Sometime in 2001 before the invasion of everybody thought that was going to be a long war but it lasted only less than two months. And this is two months with minimum deployment of troops. Afghans actually will be helped and then, you know, overthrew that -- (inaudible). Well there were some problems after all that's said.
At the same time look at the time of Soviet invasion; 5 (million), 6 million Afghans left the country and migrated to the neighboring countries. And after this, intervention 4 million Afghans returned from foreign countries. There's a hope because there was a support, population support.
During the Soviet invasion they were not concerned about winning hearts and minds. They wanted to destroy hearts and minds. And this time the problem is how to win the hearts and minds when you do have the tools how to win hearts and minds. But still, it's there.
So therefore, at the tactical level, operational level, I think there are some similarities when you fight an ambush or when you conduct a raid or something like this.
But the same time, the military situations change a lot at that time. In the -- during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, I remember that there were no inclination among the resistance to conduct terrorist activities against Soviets in Afghanistan. Even outside Afghanistan there were no terrorist -- (inaudible). They wanted to fight the Soviet fight.
But now you see the situation too can change. It is no longer and Afghan based insurgency of terrorism, it's global. In Afghanistan you are faced with three kinds of insurgencies. One is -- there are three kinds of opposition probably. One is the insurgency, traditional insurgency, grief tribes, those who were mistreated by Afghan government or the international forces or those who were, you know, mistreated by a tribe which is connected to government. That's one kind of insurgency.
That's not ideological; it is local. It's not strategic and long-term. They want to re-establish a broken kind of relationship with the government.
The other one is a classic insurgency is Taliban-led insurgency. This is ideological in -- that they want to establish a new form of government, the one that we lost.
The third is global. And the global is using both in order to advance their agenda. They are not even interested in Afghanistan only. They want to use it for -- globalizing.
So the situation is totally different from the time of the Soviet. In that time, only Afghans were fighting, supported by other countries. At that time, the majority of international community was supporting the resistance.
Now, the majority of the international community is supporting this regime, the system that -- (inaudible). That is -- that makes the two very different.
PATRICK: Thank you.
Perhaps Barney could address the ambassador's interesting thought that the merging, in his view, of the insurgency and narcotics trafficking, this warrants -- particularly in Helmand -- warrants a closer relationship between counterinsurgency and counternarcotics efforts, or at least a different mixture, perhaps, of eradication, alternative development, and interdiction.
RUBIN: Well, the question actually was about NATO involvement.
PATRICK: NATO --
RUBIN: And no one is advocating NATO involvement in eradication, or even in most of the things that go by the name of interdiction.
The type of operations that Stewart was talking about are primarily operations that are directed against what are essentially Taliban-run heroin factories, which are sort of like military operations in and of themselves.
And I think if it's done carefully, that is an appropriate use of military force, as those are military targets. The danger, even in moving into interdiction with military forces is that you know our policy toward a way to handle criminals is not to shoot them on sight, but that is the military policy in how you deal with enemies.
And we don't want -- and as we said, civilian casualties are a main course of people fighting, joining the insurgency against us. If you use military means against one-third of the economy, then you will create more civilian casualties, which we want to avoid.
But the use of military force in a highly focused way against these heroin factories I think is something that is appropriate.
PATRICK: Jean-Marie, do you have some reflections on --
GUEHENNO: -- but I share your frustration, that it's not as present throughout Afghanistan as it should be.
I think very, unfortunately, what Ali was saying is part of the answer, is that it's true that there is now in Afghanistan a new type of terrorism with suicide bombers, with extreme violence. That makes any civilian operation much more difficult.
And in the wake of Baghdad, the U.N. has become, as it should be, more and more cautious. And any deployment in those places is difficult. And it's hard, also, to be honest, to find the committed people who are willing to take some risk and be in those places.
And it's very important not to open an office for the sake of opening an office. I think one of the contributions of UNAMA to Afghanistan is that it has had, over the years, a number of very good people, and that was very important to build the credibility of the United Nations with the Afghan people.
If you open an office and have someone who is second- or third-rate, you will have kicked the box but it will be counterproductive. And UNAMA has to maintain that quality.
But there is an issue because of the security, clearly.
PATRICK: (Barney ?).
RUBIN: Can I add -- one thing about the Soviet operation, because again, I think we concentrate too much on the military side of things.
One area where the Soviet operation was -- although it had the general deficit of legitimacy that Ali was talking about -- was, in a way, more successful than ours was on the civilian side.
They were more successful in building up the institutions of the Afghan state in building larger security forces and in making the urban population, in particular, dependent on the government.
And partly they did this, actually, through an extensive system of subsidies for food and commodities that made people dependent for their livelihood on joining state organizations.
Now, of course, we're not building a socialist state in Afghanistan.
I should also add --
PATRICK: Just here.
RUBIN: Yeah. Their aid organizations, the way that -- they also did not have 300 different aid organizations setting up their own programs all over the place.
They gave their money to the government and they embedded advisers with the government in order to implement those programs -- which, whatever the flaws of their economic and political models, nonetheless seems to be, in many respects, a superior way to organize an aid program to the way that we organize it.
GUEHENNO: And when they left Afghanistan, and don't forget that the regime that they were supporting stayed on for a while because they were Soviet military cooperation that stopped only when the Soviet Union disappeared.
And so their --
(Cross talk, laughter.)
GUEHENNO: Their way of supporting the armed forces of Afghanistan, in a way, they had found something that was reasonably, up to a point, effective -- I think under the control of -- much more informed on both sides. (Laughter.)
PATRICK: Let's go with the woman in the back in the plaid red jacket, and then Samil.
QUESTIONER: Good morning. It's Linda -- (inaudible) -- India. I'm from the Brookings Institution.
I have two questions. One question is while first you mentioned that several neighbor countries in stabilizing Afghanistan. And tomorrow the Italian foreign minister is going to propose to Secretary of State Clinton the idea of hosting an outreach exercise within the meeting of the foreign ministers of the G-8 on June 26th and 27th on Afghanistan, which would involve all of the regional -- all of the neighbors plus the Gulf States, plus Russia and India.
So my first question would be what would your feelings would be about that and what's your advice.
And the second question is linked about that. One of the problems I see personally in such an outreach exercise is timing. It's true that if you want to involve, especially Iran, it's good to do it in a framework which already exists.
So the G-8 foreign minister meeting is a good framework, but you have the question of elections, which are supposed to be on August 30th, unless the opposition forces Karzai to take -- to have them before.
I was reading that there were meetings of the opposition and Karzai was supposed to say something about that today. I don't know if he did or not. And that's a real important question because who you will be negotiating with.
And the other item is how do we make sure we don't influence indirectly the elections in the wrong way. So if you could elaborate a little bit on these two aspects of the domestic situation as well, I would be grateful.
PATRICK: Barney, do you want to take a shot at that?
RUBIN: Well, in the article that Ahmed Rashid and I wrote, we called for -- we had this catchy title, "From Great Game to Grand Bargain," which I think has been interpreted by many people as advocating the type of meeting that you are saying the Italian foreign minister is proposing -- although I happen to know that the Italian foreign ministry was thinking about this meeting for a long time before we published the article.
But I must say that of course if you have such a meeting, it's a nice thing to do, but it's not the way to -- really to solve the problem. Because when you have such meetings, what inevitably happens is that everybody says that they support the security and stability of Afghanistan in the public meetings, and then they have private bilaterals where they register their actual complaints, and then they leave.
In reality, first of all, you have some very long-standing and deeply rooted political and social conflicts in the region, as Ali mentioned, which require long-term work and which you cannot even think of solving. You have to think of managing them in a better way.
Then you have some extremely sensitive operational issues involving the location of training camps, supply routes and things like that, which you also cannot discuss at this meeting or even among foreign ministers because they may not even know about them, in some -- in the cases of some countries.
That has to be dealt with in a completely different manner. In particular, the foreign ministries are not always the most relevant ministries for dealing with these matters.
So of course I'm in favor of that, but I've attending a number of these multilateral conferences in one role or another since then, and the more of them I attend, the less confidence I have that they're the right way to approach multilateral issues.
QUESTIONER: Thank you, sir. Sunil Desai, U.S. Marine Corps.
Ironically, I raised my hand because I disagreed with something that Barney said and then a little later on he said -- he made a statement of what I was going to make, tie it all together. So -- but I'd still like to make this point.
I disagree with the idea that units that are trained for counterterrorism are being employed against non-terrorists is somehow counterproductive. What it might be is inefficient.
But I, again, agree that civilian casualties are definitely counterproductive, and you're going to get civilian casualties even more so from air strikes or large-scale military operations. Counterterrorism tactics should limit that; they don't always.
But the fact is that a well-trained infantry force can conduct those type of tactics as well and take out who needs to be taken out in the middle of the night. It's bad enough that we have -- still have a debate whether or not terrorists should be treated as criminals or as part of a war.
But where you tied up that I agree with is that we need to apply more military force against whatever threats there are. So if the narcotraffickers are the threat and they're unduly influencing the farmers, they need to be taken out. And if that means military forces coming in, taking them out, that's what it means.
RUBIN: Well, I will only talk about specifically what I meant, because I -- possibly I didn't communicate what I had in mind clearly enough.
Look, I was actually thinking of a specific recent event, as I understand it from press reports, which was in Laghman, which is a small, relatively poor province in eastern Afghanistan, there was a mid-level Taliban commander whose usual base was in Pakistan, but who came back for sort of R&R and was staying with his family in a village.
And somehow Operation Enduring Freedom or some other counterterrorism operation found out that he was there. And so they went into this village at night. They put lights all over the village; they surrounded his house. The people didn't even know what was --
And anyway, there were civilian casualties, all to get this middle-level Taliban commander in Laghman province.
RUBIN: Now, what the people there said was, if the government is concerned that this commander has come home for a visit, let them send the police around the village, negotiate with the elders. Don't, they say --
And it is not appropriate or proportionate for the United States to send Special Forces over to -- and risk turning part of a province against us politically in order to capture a middle-level commander in Laghman province.
But you have these guys out there who are mandated to, as they say, capture bad guys, so they have to find bad guys.
Now, there are some real, quote, "bad guys" not very far from where this commander was in Laghman province, but they're not allowed to go get them. I'm not suggesting that they should be allowed to go get them in the same way, either. That may not be a good solution for the problem, either.
But in any case, essentially they're being distracted into something which should be handled in a very different way while the actual problem is not being handled very effectively at all and, in fact, it is quite counterproductive.
Again, we should be clear about our goals. We are not employing military force in Afghanistan to assure that every village in Afghanistan is administered by the Afghan government. We are not at war in Afghanistan in order to assure that there are no opposition commanders in any village anywhere in the Afghanistan government.
There will be opposition commanders in Afghanistan for a long time, and -- as there are in many other countries. And, happily, we will not have to have our military forces involved unless there is a strategic issue.
We may have military forces involved for training purposes, for stabilization purposes and so on. But if we start getting involved -- if counterinsurgency means, as I hear people say, that U.S. military forces have to go into rural Afghanistan and figure out how to ally with one tribe against another tribe --
People say the central government in Afghanistan doesn't have good relations with the people of Afghanistan, so therefore the U.S. military should go out. I don't think it follows from the fact that the central government finds it hard to relate to the people of Afghanistan that the U.S. military or the U.S. government will do a better job.
So, again, we use military force for certain reasons. I think that we are now involved in using it automatically because we have forces in the field and they have certain rules, without clarifying what are the political objectives.
And that is why I think it's a good thing that, as far as I understand, President Obama has decided to defer the long-term decision about troop numbers until the administration has decided what its objectives are and what its strategy for achieving them is.
PATRICK: Yeah. In that regard, can I just push on that with anyone who wants to respond to it, which is this notion of 17,000 troops, conceivably 30,000, and what those troops would be doing.
It would strike me that given the non-kinetic, non-forceful aspects of counterinsurgency that are critical that there would need to be, or it would desirable to have some sort of a -- you could call it a surge, call it an increase, augmentation numbers on the civilian side of things.
Those -- unfortunately, having had the experience of helping set up the Office of the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization at the State Department, building those capabilities has been glacial within the U.S. government. My understanding is that it's been rather glacial across the NATO alliance.
Do you see that as an integral part of either the counterinsurgency or the long-term institution building that has to go on in Afghanistan?
JALALI: Well, I think it is often said that there's no military solutions to insurgency. Yes, there's no military solution, but you can lose militarily. And the level of acceptance of foreign troops in Afghanistan by the people of Afghanistan depends on their effectiveness
If they are effective, they welcome them. If they are not, they are associated with all negative things, like civilian casualties, like searching of homes, violating culture, all these things.
I think in 2001 when people wholeheartedly welcomed the international forces, they saw that they'd removed that regime that they didn't want to be there. And they had hope. They said probably this presence will bring them better future in Afghanistan.
But later on, when they saw that the situation has declined, the security -- that the people cannot be protected, then they associate the presence with these negative things -- civilian casualties and unwarranted searches of people's homes, and incidents like what Barney referred to.
And then the conspiracy theories began to emerge. That was the not -- the real reason is not to stabilize our country. These are some other designs.
Today in Afghanistan you have all these conspiracy theories. It's tough for Afghanistan, and for Central Asia (for that ?). And unfortunately, these conspiracy theories have crossed the borders of Afghanistan. You hear it in Pakistan; you hear it in Central Asia; you hear it in Iran. And so therefore, the added troops can help only if they help to create a space, a secure space where the international community and Afghan government can serve the people, can bring positive change to the lives of people.
If they go back and do these -- conduct these raids, tactical games at the expense of the strategic losses, then I think the same kind of resentment will continue and conspiracy theory will increase, and there'll be no change in the perception of people.
In 2001, probably 100 percent of Afghans, except, you know, those who lost the power, welcomed. Today, still people do not want, the majority of people do not want the international -- (inaudible) -- but they think it's a necessary pain, that they call it.
GUEHENNO: Yeah, I'm a bit skeptical and careful on the notion of the civilian surge, because there are already a lot of internationals in Kabul, from the variety of NGOs, various bilateral programs, and all of that. And they are overwhelming the government of Afghanistan, all these programs.
The difficulty is to have people, as I answered in the -- what I said in answer to the question of -- (inaudible) -- is to have people throughout the country in places where there are few internationals.
And there, you have to really think through who you want to put because the service that is really done by internationals is extremely costly and it just further marginalizes the government of Afghanistan.
If you have a few well-selected people in critical places who can help facilitate the interface with the government of Afghanistan, including at a level beyond the national level, I think that is helpful -- and help the Afghans make sense of what is actually quite difficult to understand, which is the international effort.
Because you have to be an expert in international cooperation to understand that this is a program -- (inaudible) -- this is a bilateral U.S. program, this is a bilateral Japanese program, this is -- this NGO, that NGO. That's enormously complicated to get a grip on.
And you don't want to put too many more internationals. If they can help the Afghans get a grip on that abundance of poorly targeted programs, that will help.
But the notion that you're going to have a whole wave of civilians to accelerate the reconstruction, I don't think it works. I think it will further complicate the task of the Afghan structures.
RUBIN: I just mentioned every foreigner that goes to Afghanistan needs to hire an Afghan driver who speaks English, needs to live in a secure house with good plumbing and electricity, and needs to hire a private security company in order to keep him- or herself safe.
So therefore, every international in Afghanistan requires the funding of several warlords -- (laughter) -- both the person who owns the house and the person who owns the private security company.
QUESTIONER: (Off mike) -- Georgetown University.
At the end of this extremely interesting and also extremely discouraging panel, I still don't feel that I have any clear sense of what our objectives in Afghanistan ought to be.
It seems to me that they range from the sort of minimal of we shouldn't let al Qaeda reconstitute itself on Afghan soil, which presumably passes through the grand bargain and some kind of deal with the Taliban, with elements of the Taliban and the neighbors and so on, all the way to keeping on until we have an effective state in Afghanistan.
But I'm not -- I'm really not clear what I, as an American, should think is the appropriate objective, nor do I have a sense of what level of military involvement is associated with either the low end of the spectrum, if you want, or the high end.
PATRICK: I wonder if that frustration, to some degree -- which I share -- reflects the difficulty of reconciling the different time frames that we've been discussing.
Does anybody want to take this on?
RUBIN: Well, I'll just answer with another question. What are America's objectives in Europe?
The whole point -- when you start asking what are our objectives here, I think there's a mindset there that this is a temporary, limited operation in an area where we have no permanent interests and we want to know why we're there and how we can get out, okay?
Now, I think that that is an error, okay? It doesn't mean we have to be there fighting a war forever. We're not. We're not fighting a war in Europe at the moment, as far as I know, or many other places.
But as the world becomes more densely connected in many ways, we have to develop more permanent links and relationships in more parts of the world that we have not had before.
And therefore, conceiving of our engagement in those part of the world in terms of objectives that we will accomplish in order to create an end state, after which we will go home and ignore them, is a mistaken way of conceiving what we're trying to do.
So we have lots and lots of objectives, and some of them may be achieved in six months and some of them maybe will never be achieved, but we'll keep working for them. And that's the same as it is in other areas of the world in which we are consistently engaged.
PATRICK: One of the issues here, though, is that presumably we have the counterinsurgency effort, which will employ certain mechanisms and instruments, et cetera. We have the long-term institution building, which is sort of going along in a parallel track, hopefully, mutually reinforcing.
And the time frames for those -- and, in fact, what is going on in different parts of the country will -- I mean, some part, the north may be, or the west may be quite different from what we're actually attempting to accomplish elsewhere.
I guess that's -- some clarity on that will ultimately have to be given, because otherwise the -- at least the troop aspect of things and the military aspect of things will seem -- if I were on the Hill, I'd say this is just an incredibly open-ended commitment that is going to keep us there forever.
Obviously, we're going to be engaged, but when does it get to be like our relationship with another -- just sort of a normal development relationship that we have some interests with?
JALALI: And related to this, there's a document called Afghanistan National Development Strategy that has some benchmarks and other things, and which it says it will be achieved by 2020, I think. 2020.
That document was approved by all partners in the international community, first in London and then revised strategy was also approved in Paris in June 2008.
There's another document attached to it; that's Afghanistan Compact. There's a series of benchmarks. There are 80 or 90 benchmarks for the Afghan government, but none for the international community. (Laughter.)
That's the beginning of the confusion. Who is -- should do what and what kind of a help --
And there's no prediction who, in 10 years' time, what country will be still in Afghanistan helping to -- for the government to achieve that benchmark. And whether that country will be self-sufficient at that time that it will (breathe ?) on its own.
Countries -- in the past, there was -- the international community pledged a lot of money. Fifty percent of it was probably committed, and 25 percent of it was disbursed. (It meant ?) a lot of it actually did not leave those countries.
These are the problems. Unless we are clear about these, you cannot talk about objectives and other -- okay, there's objectives. This is Afghanistan National Development Strategy. And then the benchmark are there.
And then when the benchmark was set up in London Compact in 2006, February, all of us are -- in the summer of 2006 there was a sudden rise in insurgency and the international community and Afghan were all -- both taken by surprise.
They rushed for tactical solutions, and the GCMB that you mentioned before was supposed to coordinate and monitor the implementation of this Compact. Actually, it was reduced to GMB; the C was dropped. Coordination was dropped. So monitoring was -- it was a monitoring -- each country wondered how was the -- its contribution used there.
So therefore, the mechanism for implementation was not there. Even if you set an objective, any objective, if you do not have the mechanism and means to implement it, it will stay on the table.
PATRICK: One last question, and then I think we're about up, I think.
QUESTIONER: Thank you. Gerry Livingston from the German Historical Institute.
The proposal I've seen in the press has been made -- this is a counternarcotics question -- that the international community simply purchase the entire poppy crop each year, or the heroin output of that at slightly above market prices. Is that impossibility?
GUEHENNO: Yes, it is. (Laughter.)
PATRICK: I know Barney has -- Barney written a lot about --
RUBIN: It's an impossibility and it's not -- there's no fixed quantity which is the total poppy crop. The total poppy crop responds to market conditions. So if you offer people a higher price, more people will grow it.
And then, as there will also be illegal addicts, they'll grow enough for them too. As long as you don't have --
But the main thing is the farmers in Afghanistan don't grow opium because they like opium. They grow it because they need to earn money. So you don't have to buy opium; you can buy anything.
So if you offer them guaranteed prices and markets for any other commodity, they will grow that. But we have not done that. Only the drug industry does that.
GUEHENNO: But for that, you also need a structure so that the money goes --
GUEHENNO: -- and that's where you're back to the fundamentals of -- (inaudible) --
RUBIN: So we need to hire -- well, I'd better not say that.
PATRICK: Well, I'm not sure that we've answered the implications -- excuse me, the question as to precisely where NATO and the international community has to go in terms of achieving success in Afghanistan, but we've certainly laid out some of the problems.
I'm sure that 60 years ago this April, if they were still alive today, Dean Acheson and Paul-Henri Spaak and Robert Schuman and others would be a bit -- Ernest Bevin -- would be a bit mystified that -- not only that NATO is still around, but that its fortunes might be decided in a deployment in Central Asia.
Obviously, during the 1990s there was a lot of talk about the need for NATO to go out of area or out of business. The specter now is that it'll do both, which we hope doesn't occur.
But for their help in telling us about the scale of the challenges in Afghanistan, I'm very, very grateful to Barney, to Ali, and to Jean-Marie. Please join me in thanking them.
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