Thursday, March 26, 2009

Afstan: Security and development

1) Security: with the large increase of US forces at Kandahar province, the CF will be able to concentrate their activities, almost certainly in Kanadahar city and the heavily-populated surrounding districts (see middle of this post):
Canadian involvement in Afghanistan to narrow
Arrival of 17,000 U.S. troops in Kandahar this spring will change the mission's scope but may temporarily increase violence
By the way, this is the sub-head in the online version--note the subtle difference:
U.S. forces likely to be more pro-active, which will increase violence in the short term
Much clearer "blame the Yanks" spin.

2) Development: Good news on the education side:
Danger isn't stopping children from heading to school
Some schools are overflowing and new ones opening as education is increasing in Kandahar
Good on the Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway for the two stories above.

Nipa Banerjee (head of Canada's aid program in Afstan from 2003 to 2006) however has major problems with the international reconstruction and development effort in the country [see end of this post], and with Canada's emphasis on "signature projects" in Kandahar province:
It's not our war
We are there to assist, but the war in Afghanistan will not be won until its public institutions are stabilized
Ms Banerjee's views are well worth consideration, especially regarding international assistance writ large. But there is still the simple political reality that the government has to "sell" Canada's involvement in Afstan, and having good works to which one can draw the public's attention may just be effectively inevitable.

Update: The final paragraph of a nice overview piece in the Atlantic magazine by Robert D. Kaplan:
“This is not easy shit,” says one American Army colonel. “But what’s the alternative?” That’s why American Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, Jr. says [more on what he said recently about Regional Command South] that what is required is “strategic patience [emphasis added].” The U. S. military has already been in Afghanistan half as many years as it was in Vietnam, and with troops pulling out of Iraq and talk of a multi-year hard slog ahead here, Afghanistan is on track to becoming America’s longest war. To that end, significant numbers of American officers and civilian contractors will be embedded in Afghan government ministries [we used to have CF officers doing that too--more here and here] for years to come, helping to run things. But does the home front have the stomach for it? Our reaction to the fighting about to unfold this summer will speak volumes.
Sound familiar to Canadians?


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