Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Afghanistan on ¡§Life Support¡¨ Warns Council Report
Related Bio: Dr. Barnett R. Rubin, New York

April 10, 2006
Council on Foreign Relations

Stabilization and Reconstruction Overshadowed by Iraq
April 10, 2006¡X¡§Afghanistan has received inadequate
resources in terms of both troops and funds; this is
not the time to draw down the military presence or to
reduce aid,¡¨ warns a new Council on Foreign Relations
Special Report. ¡§The world thus far has put
Afghanistan on life support, rather than investing in
a cure¡K.Afghanistan has the potential to be a
disastrous situation if intelligent, measured steps
are not taken.¡¨

Stabilization and reconstruction operations in
Afghanistan have been overshadowed by developments in
Iraq since the 2003 invasion, says the report,
Afghanistan¡¦s Uncertain Transition From Turmoil to
Normalcy, by Afghanistan expert and New York
University Professor Barnett R. Rubin. ¡§After years
of claiming that greater American and Afghan
casualties are either signs of ¡¥desperation¡¦ by
foundering terrorists or the result of more aggressive
U.S. tactics that are pushing opposition fighters out
of their safe havens, the U.S. government has now
admitted that the insurgency is growing and becoming
more effective,¡¨ states the report.

While there have been achievements in Afghanistan
since 2001, including the December 2001 Bonn Agreement
that gave Afghanistan a constitutional framework and
nascent political institutions, much hard work remains
before these institutions can be considered mature.

The January 2006 Afghanistan Compact, which provides a
roadmap for security, governance, and development over
the next five years, reminds international actors that
Afghanistan¡¦s transition to normalcy is not at all
assured and that strong international engagement and
U.S. support are required to address remaining

Stability and security in Afghanistan remain elusive
says the report. The report notes a long list of
challenges including:

¡§ An ever-more deadly insurgency with sanctuaries in
neighboring Pakistan, where leaders of al-Qaeda and
the Taliban have found refuge.¡¨
¡§A corrupt and ineffective administration without
resources and a potentially dysfunctional
¡§An economy and administration heavily influenced by
drug traffickers¡K[as] the distribution of the
proceeds of narcotics trafficking, not elections,
largely determines who wields power in much of
¡§Levels of poverty, hunger, ill health, illiteracy,
and gender inequality that put Afghanistan near the
bottom of every global ranking¡K.The country ranks
approximately 173 out of 178 countries in the basic
index of human development, effectively putting it in
a tie for last place with a few African countries.¡¨
¡§The Afghanistan Compact provides many elements of a
plan for sustainable security, governance, and
development,¡¨ says Rubin, but ¡§the compact places
responsibility for meeting these goals on the
government of Afghanistan, which can easily be held
accountable, and the ¡¥international community,¡¦
which cannot be.¡¨ Thus, ¡§all stakeholders should
fully fund and implement the Afghanistan Compact and
the Interim Afghanistan National Development

Additional recommendations elaborate on the following

¡§Afghanistan can be stable and secure only if it is
well integrated into its region, both economically and
politically. Achieving this goal will require
sustained efforts to deescalate and eventually resolve
the country¡¦s long-standing conflicts with Pakistan
over relations with India, the border, ethnic issues,
and transit trade, and to insulate Afghanistan from
conflict relating to Iran.¡¨
¡§None of the problems of this destitute, devastated
country can be addressed effectively without
sustained, equitable economic growth. In addition to
security, this requires extensive investments in
infrastructure, governance, and the justice system.¡¨
¡§Economic growth also requires a policy of
eliminating narcotics that does not impoverish people.
There should be no short-term conditionality of aid on
eliminating narcotics. Elimination of narcotics will
take well over a decade, and crop eradication is a
counterproductive way to start such a program. Foreign
donors should support the Afghan government¡¦s
long-term plan and not impose their own programs.¡¨
A stable and secure Afghanistan requires a legitimate
and capable state. To ensure that international aid
fulfills this objective, the United States and other
major aid donors that have not done so already,
notably Germany and Japan, should provide multiyear
aid commitments and channel increasing amounts of aid
through the government budget by mechanisms such as
the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, the Law and
Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, and the
Counter-Narcotics Trust Fund for Afghanistan.¡¨


Barnett R. Rubin is director of studies and senior
fellow at the Center on International Cooperation, New
York University. Rubin, founding director of the
Council¡¦s Center for Preventive Action, served as
adviser to the UN Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi,
during the negotiations that produced the Bonn

The Council¡¦s Center for Preventive Action(CPA) seeks
to prevent, defuse or resolve deadly conflicts around
the world and to expand the body of knowledge on
conflict prevention. It does so by creating a forum in
which representatives of governments, international
organizations, corporations, nongovernmental
organizations, and civil society can gather to develop
operational and timely strategies for promoting peace
in specific conflict situations. CPA focuses on
conflicts that affect U.S. interests, but may be
otherwise overlooked; where prevention appears
possible; and when the resources of the Council on
Foreign Relations can make a difference.

Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is
an independent national membership organization and a
nonpartisan center for scholars dedicated to producing
and disseminating ideas so that members, students,
interested citizens, and government officials in the
United States and other countries can better
understand the world and the foreign policy choices
facing the United States and other governments.


Contact: Anya Schmemann, DC Communications,
202-518-3419 or


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