I’m sure my better-informed fellow bloggers will be able to pick it apart in no time, but to my untrained eye, this new paper on the Afghan insurgency by Thomas Ruttig seems to make a lot of sense. I think this bit from the executive summary pretty much sums up what went wrong in Afghanistan:
Arguably most insurgent foot-soldiers are motivated less by ideological reasons but by alienation from the post-2001 political process. This alienation resulted from exclusion from the access to power and resources and the resulting rejection of abusive, predatory local strong men who represent central government, intra-tribal and ethnic polarisation, government corruption on all levels, the re-insertion of the warlords and commanders in positions of power and their subsequently acquired domination over most of the political institutions. Underlying factors were the light military footprint, including inadequate international troop deployment, and direct political interference of the US-dominated international community in the early post-2001 period on one hand and the lack of effective governance by the Karzai administration, supported uncritically by its external allies on the other. While the light military footprint created the operational space, bad governance provided the moral space for the comeback of the Taleban and its transformation into a broader insurgency. In this respect, the ‘Pakistan factor’ – the cross-borderi nsurgency support infrastructure – only plays a secondary role.