Monday, October 02, 2006

British troops in Afghanistan

A rather pessimistic article on Afghanistan, that does cover some of the endless debate on military involvement in reconstruction and nation-building:

"When I visited British peacekeepers in Kabul in January 2003, they were pleased with their progress. A strategy had been devised to spread the beneficial effects to other centres, despite the shortage of troops and aid money: the formation of "provincial reconstruction teams", or PRTs. Consisting of no more than a couple of dozen soldiers, these would go into regional capitals to foster stability, remind local warlords of their responsibilities to the central government, combat the drugs trade and give development a push.

It seemed a suicidally optimistic idea, but turned out to be an unexpected success - so much so that the Americans copied it in some areas under their control in eastern Afghanistan. They soon learnt, however, that it is impossible to assault a village one day and turn up offering to dig a well the next."

The article has a strong hint of the equation of 'no development without security, no security without development'- though its focus is on making a choice between maintaining troops in either Afghanistan or Iraq and not both.