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Afghanistan Circle-Squaring, Cont’d

For more on using counterinsurgency means to counterterrorism ends, Marc Ambinder is hearing things about the White House Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy review, run by former CIA official Bruce Riedel. First, to my point about governance assistance being a necessary component of counterinsurgency:

The Riedel review plans to recommend a sweeping overhaul of efforts to rebuild civil society in Afghanistan, in particular; a popular anecdote tells of the Afghan villager who resents the Taliban for stealing from him during the day and the Karzai government from exacting bribes from him as he tries to sell his produce.

So there’s that. From a broader, aerial viewpoint:

Among the top U.S. priorities Riedel has identified: the shutting down of safe havens in “Pashtunistan” border region and the fighting of corruption in the Karzai government. More controversial, at least to Congress, will be the expenditures: the administration, according to the New York Times, wants to dangle even more carrots before Pakistan through direct aid to the country’s military. In exchange, Pakistan would devote more of its resources and material towards fighting the insurgency and less toward saber-rattling with India. The Obama administration also wants to increase payments to Afghan tribal leaders and has hinted at financial incentives – call them bribes – to persuade more “moderate” Taliban elements to either disarm or turn their attention away from Karzai’s government in Kabul.

Now that sounds like cutting deals with insurgents outside the auspices of the Kabul government. Perhaps that’s a way station to getting insurgents to deal with Kabul; and perhaps it would take the United States to arrange such a thing. It’s hardly clear to me. But it’s also easy to understand how a government in Kabul would view that as a recipe for a new or entrenched batch of warlords.

So spot that as a potential objection. Is there anything emerging from the Af-Pak review so far that doesn’t align, substantively, with what the Karzai government said it wants?

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