Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Afghanistan Reconstruction Effort Will Have to Step Aside

Reconstruction can’t go on forever.

The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan has been a frustrating process, plagued by sabotage, corruption, and the ever-present threat of violence by the criminal gangs that used to run the country. It has been carried on this long only because it is so important. The essential functions of a nation can’t be carried out without the technology to tie things together, starting with things as basic as roads.

But the reconstruction will have to stop soon whether it is finished or not, a point President Hamid Karzai made yesterday. If foreign reconstruction teams are the focal points of stability and progress in Afghanistan for years to come, Afghanistan will not resemble a nation so much as a set of colonies squabbling with each other. The best hope for stability, peace, and freedom in Afghanistan is if the people get together in Kabul and decide what to do.

It could be said that the government in Afghanistan doesn’t have the resources to carry out its mission very well at this point. Yet the North American and European countries that have provided most of the firepower in Afghanistan probably do not have the resources to keep troops there for another five years either. So there is little choice but to begin handing the country over to the government security forces that, for the most part, do not exist yet. The government may not be in a position to maintain its own roads yet either, but it will have to attempt that too, and there is every reason to hope that it will be successful in the end.