I have tremendous respect for International Crisis Group. In fact, I think they’re pretty much infallible. Needless to say, I’m taking their new report on Afghanistan very seriously, and I think everyone else should, too. In case 20 pages sounds like too daunting a task for a Friday night, let me briefly summarise the section titled “What Should Not Be Done”:
- Let’s separate the wheat from the chaff and negotiate with the wheat! Think again: “Numerous peace agreements with jihadi groups and networks, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, have broken down within months. In each case they have enhanced the power and activities of violent insurgents while doing nothing to build sustainable institutions.
- Okay, so how about arming one tribe against the others? Fuhgeddaboutit: “Afghanistan is awash with weapons and armed groups. Creating unaccountable local militias — based on false analogies with Iraq — will only worsen ethnic tensions and violence.”
- Screw it, let’s go home. Not so fast, amigo: “Withdrawing international troops with the threat that any regrouping of jihadis or al-Qaeda can be countered by air power and special forces would simply return the country to the control of jihadis. Air power has not proven successful against insurgents or terrorist bases. Neglect would allow the region to descend into further chaos, as it did in the 1990s.”
So, can we, like, move on now?