Afghans Support, Mistrust ANA

by Joshua Foust on 1/7/2008 · 2 comments

Afghanistanica posts on the latest Asia Foundation survey, with some surprising results.

Q: The ANA is unprofessional and poorly trained. Agree or disagree?
•Agree somewhat or strongly → 62%
•Disagree somewhat or strongly → 36%

Q: The ANA helps improve the security. Agree or disagree?
•Agree somewhat or strongly → 89%
•Disagree somewhat or strongly → 10%

Q: The ANA is honest and fair with the Afghan people. Agree or disagree?
•Agree somewhat or strongly → 90%
•Disagree somewhat or strongly → 8%

That’s actually really promising—unprofessionalism and training are relatively easy to fix… that is, with appropriate resourcing (hint hint, Washington). Widespread support among the population, on the other hand, is not. The hard part is over, or never had to happen.

Meanwhile, Col. Dennis Young of the Strategic Studies Institute at the US Army War College is jumping on board the “fixing institutions” bandwagon, noting that the serious problems of corruption and governmental ineffectiveness are tied back to the drug lords and the warlords. He also advocates a massive increase in the amount of aid and assistance to Afghanistan—exactly what we’ve been arguing for years.

One question: where is the State Department, or USAID, in all of this? Recently, the biggest advocates of an increased aid budget and increased funding for the State Department and especially its diplomatic corps have been Robert Gates and other high-ranking members of the military and DoD. Why is the military the U.S.’s biggest advocate for diplomacy, and not Condoleeza Rice? I could venture a guess that maybe the military is sick of doing everyone’s job, but the problem is much deeper than that—at the highest levels, it appears the Bush administration (since Condi is the closest to Bush of his entire cabinet) does not care about or for diplomacy, or non-military solutions to any foreign policy crises.

That’s bad. It bodes especially poorly for the dumb idea to export Anbar to Waziristan. While there are clashes between locals and crazies, the very real phenomenon of homegrown Pakistanis filling the ranks of the crazies (as compared to just foreign nationals) is a worrying trend. If Bush seems to shun diplomacy as vehemently as he has, how could he possibly hope to gain permission for covert action to an extremely delicate area of Pakistan? (Note: he almost certainly cannot.)

What’s more, how could he possibly think covert action there would be anything short of disastrous, should the tribal elders decide they no longer wish white people with big guns telling them what to do?


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

Nathan January 7, 2008 at 2:46 pm

I’m surprised to see the ANP getting about the same numbers in the poll. I’ve heard lots of anecdotal evidence that they’re not as well liked or respected.

Afghanistanica January 8, 2008 at 5:58 pm

At the end of the year, after going over polls by the Asia Foundation, BBC, and CBC, I feel ripped off by all the journalists and commentators who all year long relayed information concerning the views of Afghans. I was expecting a significant change in attitudes towards to Karzai government and American forces. But it never materialized.

Will the institution of journalism reform itself for 2008 and offer a more cautious analysis? I doubt it.

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