One more thing from Adm. Mullen’s Joint Forces Quarterly piece. There’s a brief discussion about how the Taliban optimizes the unity of communications and actions:
Got a governance problem? The Taliban is getting pretty effective at it. They’ve set up functional courts in some locations, assess and collect taxes, and even allow people to file formal complaints against local Talib leaders. Part of the Taliban plan to win over the people in Swat was to help the poor or displaced own land. Their utter brutality has not waned, nor has their disregard for human life. But with each such transaction, they chip away at the legitimacy of the Afghan government, saying in effect: “We can give you the stability the government cannot.”
Now, that’s something that the Obama administration and its allies often discuss as a problem to be solved. But rarely have I observed discussions about why it is that the Taliban govern relatively effectively, compared with the Afghan government, outside of generic statements that the U.S.-led coalition hasn’t sufficiently challenged the Taliban in select areas. But can that really be the whole story? The Taliban had a reputation for incorruptibility in the 1990s that helped them come to power; and as much as the Taliban remain unpopular in opinion surveys, the incapacity and corruption on the part of the Afghan government probably reinforces that reputation.