What is success in Afghanistan?

What is success in Afghanistan?

Which option is applicable to the United States?

Since 2001, the West is trying to build in Afghanistan, centralized management system. But this approach does not correspond to the historical traditions, or the political culture of the country. Closer to reality and the applicable nominee are decentralized democracy and a system of mixed sovereignty.


The period from the end of the second Anglo-Afghan war in 1880 to coup of Mohammed Daoud Khan in 1973, has been in Afghanistan a measured time relative to the municipal building. Although prior to 1964 was an absolute monarchy, the Afghan Emir that rule, as a whole needs the consent of the population. The central government did not have enough strength and resources to local control and the provision of municipal services in almost all parts of the country. Because it is usually on the basis of agreements between the state and individual communities, which, in exchange for loyalty and a semblance of order provided the relative autonomy. As Kabul gains the ability to provide services and to punish those who violated the agreement, the balance has changed and the autonomy of local uniformly taper off. But every time this process was very fast (more than wonderful examples — 20s at Ammanule Khan and 70 during the reign of the People's Democratic Party, which supported the Russian Alliance), on the periphery of the conflict flared up and the local rulers threw call center power. Russian invasion in 1979 led to the complete destruction of the central government and the rule of law, which resulted in the spraying of the political, economic and military power between the ethnic and territorial groups. Thus ended the era of dynastic control of the Pashtun elites over the state.

Although the war, migration and the emergence of individual rulers in destabilized regions of the countryside, local communities remain the main source of Afghan identity and the basic foundation of governance and accountability. This point is particularly clearly visible in the example of the local shura or jirga (council of the community). Typically, the community council decided prepyadstviya open a discussion and common needs and responsibilities, and more pochetaemye its members served as a link to the central government. These tips may be different in their own influence and consulate, and now they are in almost every community. Such a common base of legitimacy on the ground is a potential basis for a measured rule in the future.

Washington, of course, would that in Afghanistan (and in at least some other country) board produced by the will of the governed, that people prospered, and the rights of minorities and women are respected. But the two main points that define the enthusiasm of the U.S. in Afghanistan in terms of security and justify the conduct of the war, are considerably more narrow nature. First point is that terrorists who wish to strike the United States and its allies, has not used Afghanistan as a base of their own. The second point: the Afghan territory should not be used by insurgents to destabilize its neighbors, especially Pakistan.

For Afghanistan, there are plenty of options for the municipal unit, but only some of them are compatible with the interests of U.S. national security. Afghanistan could become a centralized democracy, decentralized democracy, rule of democratic and non-democratic composition of the territories, it can be divided into mini-states, it could become a centralized dictatorship or anarchy. The first and last options are unlikely, section and anarchy are not acceptable. But decentralized democracy and internal mixed sovereignty is real and applicable.

What is success in Afghanistan?

FAILURE of centralization

Since 2001, the government of Hamid Karzai in international support is committed to creating a centralized democracy. This model, which initially provided the Bonn Agreement in 2001, and later enshrined in the Afghan Constitution of 2004 empowers the national government almost all executive, legislative and judicial power. She made one of the most centralized countries in the world, at least — on paper. The president appoints all principal officials in the executive branch of government — from provincial governors to mid-level functionaries working in structures that are subject to the provincial government. All security forces are public. Although there are provisions for the election of provincial, district, municipal and village councils, to this day, elections were held only provincial councils. In the hands of Kabul are all right, policy development, budget and tax collection. In March 2010, the Karzai government has approved a new program under which certain administrative and fiscal capacities of local delegated appointed bureaucrats, and small audit and economical opportunities are available to sub-national authorities. But the Afghan government is actually centralized.

Politicians close to Karzai insisted on the development of the government with the highest degree of centralization of power against the wishes of many non-Pashtun minorities, and in spite of previous experience when samples of centralization, though they were undemocratic and failed. In the period from 1919 to 1929 year Ammanula Khan wanted to become Afghan Kemal Ataturk, but his strategy eventually led to severe disturbances in the rural areas, which put an end to his rule. Design samples of centralization in regimes that were established after the 1978 coup and who supported the Russian Alliance, contributed to the emergence of resistance Mujahideen and led to many years of civilian war.

After the 2001 movement "Taliban" was removed from power, thanks to the support of the Pashtuns, also because of fears that war could resume civilian clothes by type 90s, formed a large part of which advocated the Constitution, which would have consolidated the centralization of power. But the central government in Afghanistan has never had legitimacy, which is a prerequisite for such an organizing principle. The last 30 years of turmoil and structural devolution, in other words, the transfer of political, economic and military power in space, only exacerbated this dilemma. Simply put, segodnyaschy government model — very decisive change in a country where the central government has so limited legitimacy and ability. To achieve lasting peace, which would have enveloped the main ethnic and religious groups, as elements of the insurgency, Afghanistan needs a more flexible, decentralized political structure, taking into account the interests of the wider community.


Mixed sovereignty is a more decentralized model. With all of this approach — almost everything in the same way as in a decentralized democracy — some compelling features that are currently in the hands of Kabul, is delegated to the provincial and district levels. But mixed sovereignty goes one step further: in this system, the local authorities are given additional opportunities, but do not put any conditions of transparency of elections, if that is their wish, for all that they have no right to run across three "red lines" set by the center.

In 1-x, the local authorities should not permit the introduction of their own territory so t
hat it violated the country's foreign policy, in other words for refuge camps of terrorists or insurgents. In-2, local governments may not infringe on the rights of adjacent provinces or regions, for example, the method of capture or removal of accessories aqua resources. And in the end, or 3, to avoid the role of local officials in the theft of a large scale, drug trafficking and the exploitation of natural resources belong to the state.

Beyond these limited bans local authorities can manage their territories in its sole discretion, with the right to ignore the will of the people, or to engage in corruption in moderate amounts. Kabul government retains control over foreign policy, in its full run is right to fight and use the laws on drugs, customs service and the mining industry, it has limited opportunities for trade between provinces. In such an arrangement is a mixed sovereignty to an even greater extent than in other possible systems: many (but not all) of everyday opportunities sovereign government delegated to the provincial or district level.

Compared with decentralized democracy model of mixed sovereignty would be more severe departure from the direction of the municipal building, the hidden for Afghanistan in 2001. However, its adoption would be a partial recognition of Afghan realities that were established after 2001. Power Many governors and local officials appointed by Karzai, rests not on the mandate of the central government. Local leaders ruled faster due to its structure, ensuring their economic strength and security, and operate outside the legal framework, but taciturn consent of Kabul. In the provinces of Balkh (Governor Atta Mohammad Noor) and Nangarhar (governor Gul Agha Sherzai) this has led to relative peace and a substantial reduction in poppy production. Both military and feudal ruler established equilibrium, in which they make a profit, plundering customs fees and municipal property, but at the same time maintain order and produce theft within certain limits so as not to allow the operations of oppression on the part of Kabul, for which both parties had would pay a heavy price.

But in other parts of the act caused the instability of the local favorites. So, in Helmand two years of government corruption Sher Muhammad Akhundzade led to the fact that significant groups of the population have turned away from power, and the creation of cultivation increased, spurred acts of insurgents. Even on a measured relative to northern Afghanistan warlords rule has led to outbreaks of ethnic violence and criminality. To ensure the stability can not be allowed to mix sovereignty meant the partition of the country in which the local princes rule in their own domains completely unpunished. So Makarov, "red lines" limiting the abuses that fueled the rebel acts are an important factor.

Mixed sovereignty principle has advantages: it is less, depending on the frisky development of municipal institutions and more true of Afghanistan. Limiting the role of the central government in local affairs correctly labeled and strictly observe the "red lines" can convince influential figures in a moderate degree of abuse, which at the moment are pushing people to the Taliban. At the same time, the system of mixed sovereignty would be less dependent on transparency and effective work and that it would take less guidance, supervision and support from the international community. Local autonomy would make the incentive for the Taliban to engage in talks on reconciliation, while in option that bears the obvious democratic in nature, they would be subject to sanctions in the election.

But mixed sovereignty is associated with risks and burdens, making this model the least compatible with U.S. interests than a centralized or decentralized democracy. In 1-x, the governors will have the full freedom of regressive social policies and human rights violations. This would be a departure from the promises of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights for women and minorities …

Corruption has become so common — strictly speaking, the opportunity for future governors of bribery will be the principal factor in the attractiveness of the system. The Afghan government will have to rein in the size and scope of corruption in order, so that the adoption of the official authorities of abuse has not led to renewed support for the insurgency. To prevent such a development, the government in Kabul will have to stop more outrageous abuses of today, and if mixed sovereignty is only a cover for the status quo, it will fail. At the same time, it will strongly fight against drug trafficking, the amount of which, if not kept under control, can exceed the funds received in the form of foreign aid, and make it less compelling incentive for submission to Kabul. With influential political figures of the country will have to make a deal: they must refrain from very large abuses in exchange for tolerating moderate center to local corruption and getting shred of foreign assistance. But even this kind of agreement is likely experiences a resistance from local rulers, who are accustomed to act without any restrictions. So Makar, mixed sovereignty is not freed from the need to Kabul to confront local authorities, and perhaps even a limited confrontation would be expensive and extremely heavy.

With this method, the board will remain a possible threat to impermanence, because at times powerful governors will decide certain steps to ensure that they will be able to commit with impunity. The central government may have to conduct enforcement operations, including the use of force.

So Makar, mixed sovereignty — not the best option, but it could be close to reality, if Washington and Kabul were ready to do the fundamental role of providing coercion, albeit in a limited way. This model offers two methods for the central government to establish restrictive "red lines". First — the threat of retaliatory military operations. This method will claim the use of security forces that can compel offenders fully accountable for their misdeeds. (Optional, that they have a monopoly on the use of harsh measures, but the national armed forces in one form or another are needed.) Other enforcement mechanism — Kabul's control over foreign aid and its ability to guide her in some provinces and not sent to the other.

Washington with all this, the company will retain influence through foreign assistance and close cooperation with the Afghan national security forces. To maintain the balance of power inside Afghanistan, the United States and its NATO allies have to constantly pay attention to this country. In the unlikely event it would be at the mercy of the warlords and immersed in the civilian war. A working model of mixed sovereignty — is not a recipe for exemption from the duties of the West: such a model will claim not only the continuation of assistance, but also the constant political and military cooperation. In particular, the principal role is played by regional diplomacy. So that Afghanistan does not become something like a magnet for foreign intervention and a source of regional impermanence, United States need to take care about, that this country has been included in the system of regional security. This will facilitate the delivery of assistance and help to prevent the intervention of the neighbors.

As in the case of decentralized democracy, the system of internal mixed sovereignty brought fully applicable results in the developing world. Afghanistan itself ruled on a similar model a huge part of the XX century: Muhammad Nadir Shah and his son Mohammed Zahir Shah ruled for five decades as a nominally absolute monarchs, but with limited state bureaucracy and a certain autonomy to the periphery.

The rule of law was generally respected in the field, and some Pashtun tribes in the south and east, were exempted from military service. Yet the government army and state police kept readiness to support the main prerogatives of the imperial
power. Funds in the municipal budget comes not from internal taxation, and the outdoor trade, foreign aid (since the late 50s) and the sale of natural gas in the Russian Alliance (late 60s). With the passage of time — the growth of skills and resources — the government has managed to expand their own capabilities: it condemned the criminals in the municipal courts, regulated prices for staples and put the communal lands under its yurispundentsiyu.

Not an option

Likely are other options for Afghanistan, but they would not answer the main requirements of the United States in the field of security. For example, a country may break the de facto or de jure. More affordable option, in which the Pashtun south will split from the north and west, in the main populated by Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras. Such a final would be likely, if the reconciliation deal with the Taliban provided them with a very great latitude in the south of the country, which has historically been a mainstay of the movement "Taliban". Though what the final, which will provide the Taliban leeway in the south, can make reliable base for cross-border terrorism, asylum and insurgency … The disengagement will also prepare the ground for regional military conflicts, which stood behind the scenes to external forces and internal competition for control of Kabul and the necessary border areas.

If government Karzai's fall, Afghanistan could plunge into anarchy across the country draped pockets of civilian war, as it was in the 90s. Such a government will be like Afghanistan under the Taliban or on Somalia these days are, where lawlessness has paved the way, "al-Shabab," the extremist Islamist movement, behind which stands the "Al-Qaeda" — with obvious consequences for U.S. interests.

And, in the end, Afghanistan can become a centralized dictatorship, though that option hard to imagine being. One person hardly able to concentrate power in his own hands in a country where the post-Taliban political, military and financial power is dispersed in the middle of numerous political leaders. In such a situation though what possible Teran — pro-Western or anti-Western — will be very difficult to prevent a slide into civilian war. Municipal coup or other undemocratic seizure of power (for example changing the constitution to allow for the indefinite presidency) is very likely to occur, but is unlikely to lead to stability.

This article is first placed in the magazine "Russia in Global Affairs» (№ 4, July — August 2010)

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