You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new www.NationofChange.org.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 / PROGRESSIVE JOURNALISM FOR POSITIVE ACTION
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Graciana del Castillo
Published: Saturday 17 September 2011
The economics of what an Afghanistan at peace would look like must be a critical part of any negotiations, but what does the economics of peace entail, and why is it so important?

The Economics of Peace in Afghanistan

Article image

Suicide bombings, assassinations of top Afghan leaders, brutal attacks on Charikar and other places close to Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, and a rapid increase in civilian deaths from drone attacks are jeopardizing the withdrawal of American and NATO forces from the country. So pervasive has the violence become that Ahmed Rashid, the renowned expert on the Taliban, has concluded that speeding up the peace process through dialogue with the insurgents is the only option.

The economics of what an Afghanistan at peace would look like must be a critical part of any negotiations. But what, precisely, does the economics of peace entail, and why is it so important?

"Follow Project Syndicate on Facebook or Twitter. For more from Graciana del Castillo, click here."

One main objective should be to transform Afghanistan’s vast underground economy, which has thrived, despite the large number of NATO forces, by creating profitable opportunities for Taliban and other groups involved in the fighting. To reintegrate these fighters into the productive economy will require a change in policies, including a rapid reactivation of rural development schemes and the promotion of local entrepreneurship, public works, and other legal activities.

In particular, the United States, together with other donors and NATO troop contributors, should heed “Ten Commandments” during and after the negotiations.

First, apply the dictum of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) that it is better to let “them” do it than it is to try to “do it better” for them. Thus, let national negotiators, local leaders, and communities determine what their economic needs and priorities are, and let insurgents determine their preferred venue for reintegration. Unless the participants are empowered and take ownership, programs will not be sustainable, resources will go to waste, and peace will not endure.

Second, ensure integration – rather than merely coordination – of economic factors into the political and security agenda. This would entail using reintegration and other economic programs as a carrot to support the negotiations, and would also support peace and stability in the long run.

Third, support a peace agreement designed in accordance with the country’s financial and technical capacity to implement it. This requires reasonable projections for domestic tax revenue and aid, as well as the right mix of foreign expertise to support the process. Avoid overly optimistic projections that lead to unworkable plans and unreasonable expectations, which the government will not be able to fulfill, as happened in Guatemala, for example, when its civil war ended.

Fourth, channel aid through the central government budget, or through local authorities, so that officials can acquire legitimacy by providing services and infrastructure, and provide subsidies and price-support programs to replace poppies with licit crops such as cotton, which was produced in the past.

Fifth, ensure that such aid moves quickly from short-run humanitarian purposes – to save lives and feed those giving up war – to reconstruction activities aimed at creating investment, productivity growth, and the sustainable employment that will enable people to live dignified lives. What needs to be avoided is a failure – such as occurred in Haiti following its devastating earthquake – to move from the first stage to the second.

Sixth, establish well-planned and synchronized programs for demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration, which are sine qua non for making the transition from war to peace irreversible. In doing so, remember that the “vagueness versus specificity” dilemma also applies to economic issues. Too much specificity on some variables and too much vagueness with regard to others required a renegotiation of the arms-for-land agreement in El Salvador to make it implementable.

Seventh, establish different programs for higher-level commanders, providing more orientation, training, credit, and technical assistance. The United Nations acknowledged better results from the “Plan 600” in El Salvador than from programs for lower-ranking combatants, which lacked such support.

Eighth, increase support for NGOs with successful records in creating entrepreneurs in rural development, in carpet weaving, jewelry design, or any other activity that Afghans want to develop. Active policies to promote new start-ups and local companies’ expansion through credit, training, and technical support are imperative.

Ninth, establish economic reconstruction zones to jump-start sustainable economic activity, create jobs and export earnings, improve aid effectiveness and accountability, and avoid aid dependency. The zones could combine integrated rural development for domestic consumption and labor-intensive manufacturing and agro-businesses for export. The US and other countries should open their markets to goods produced in these zones.

Finally, ensure that the political or peace objective prevails at all times, even if it delays economic stability and development. This often means accepting that optimal and best-practice economic policies are not attainable – or, indeed, even desirable. The independence of the central bank and the “no overdraft” rule for budget financing will almost certainly prove too restrictive to carry out critical peace-supporting activities in Afghanistan.

In settling the Afghan war, the government and donors should seek to eschew the pattern of unkept promises that has bedeviled reconstruction of the country in the past. Only then will Afghanistan be able to break out of its decades-long vicious circle of violence, insecurity, corruption, unemployment, drug trafficking, and aid dependency.



Author pic
ABOUT Graciana del Castillo

Graciana del Castillo is Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University and the author of Rebuilding War-Torn States.

Afghanistan has been a

Afghanistan has been a mistake from the very beginning. 9/11 was mostly the product of 11 Saudi citizens and 8 accomplices. So we start a war in Afghanistan ignoring past Russian and British failures to tame Afghanistan.

I propose a one step plan - destroy facilities/equipment, withdraw all US and NATO forces, and use the billions of dollars saved for better purposes.

Don't worry about the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan will install a proxy government that will control the Afghans.

Dear Professor, The major

Dear Professor,

The major problem preventing peace in Afghanistan is Pakistan. It is likely that if not for Pakistan we would never have needed to send troops to Afghanistan. Your 10 points don't recognize that simple fact.

We are unwilling to deal with Pakistan prior to a major incident in the reigon or a major terror attack launched from Pakistan on a country other than India. Pakistan is Xenophobic (read their Constution if you don't believe that). Pakistan has nuclear weapons and sells or trades its weapons technology widely. Pakistan is the country most likely to start a nuclear war in the near term or support a nuclear terror attack.

There will be no peace or stability in the reigon until the problem of Pakistan is delt with no matter how well or what we do elsewhere.

Dear NoC, I think the plan

Dear NoC,

I think the plan put forth in this article is too complicated, and that many of these things have been / are being tried. As a former army civil affairs guy in Afghanistan, our team tried doing many of these things, and echelons above us tried coordinating and integrating at the national level - military + NGO's. Some of the advice also seems contradictory - "let them own it" vs. "make sure it's integrated." At the end of the day, THEY must own it and we (USA, NATO) must back WAY off. That, I think, is the only solution for them to be able to determine their own way of governing and living. Sounds a lot simpler, perhaps, but it will be very hard for us to do ... we are vested in our belief that we can solve 'the problem'. Thanks for the article.

As others have commented, our

As others have commented, our leaders simply do not give three shits about Afghanistanis. The Corporate States of America do not give a fucking damn about sustainable politics or economics. They are interested in Afghanistan only for the geopolitical advantages that it offers for U.S. hegemony. The U.S. has actively supported Al Quaeda , Osama bin Laden and the Taliban whenever it suited our (their) interests. The U.S. is bent on a course of conquest in the Middle East with no regard for the wishes of its citizens.Please refer to The Centre for Global Research, articles on AlterNet, Noam Chomsky and many others.

As others have commented, our

As others have commented, our leaders simply do not give three shits about Afghanistanis. The Corporate States of America do not give a fucking damn about sustainable politics or economics. They are interested in Afghanistan only for the geopolitical advantages that it offers for U.S. hegemony. The U.S. has actively supported Al Quaeda , Osama bin Laden and the Taliban whenever it suited our (their) interests. The U.S. is bent on a course of conquest in the Middle East with no regard for the wishes of its citizens.Please refer to The Centre for Global Research, articles on AlterNet, Noam Chomsky and many others.

Dear Megan, ----"The U.S.

Dear Megan,

----"The U.S. has actively supported Al Qaeda ..."

is one of those statements that a person reads and wonders about both the statement and the author.

But please do make your case for the US actively supporting AQ anytime after the first Gulf War

This article presents some

This article presents some lovely fantasies but we are making war on Afghanistan because of economic interests and the war profiteers couldn't care less about ever establishing peace, they want continuing conflict. Please figure out how to remove these psychopaths from running things so that we CAN bring peace to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the world.

Norman Allen's picture

It is fashionable for

It is fashionable for comedians to have top ten lists nowadays about any laughable situation, including the tragedy in Afghanistan. If we could not achieve peace and stability with $trillions, over 200,000 soldiers (including the civilian NGOs) and multi-national coordinated guns in the past 10 years, I suppose implementing these 10 conditions seems to be the laughable alternative than plain admission we bomb the wrong country in retaliation of 911. None of those involved in the event were Afghans yet they lost everything material they had. Hahaha, nice comedy for the military industrial complex....Have we learned the lessons that corporate warfare is very costly and does not provide the returns expected? Are we going to hold anyone accountable?

Yes, you are right. But that

Yes, you are right. But that is a problem among Afghans. What they resent from the international community is that they are killing civilians and having little positive impact on the civilian population.

thank you for the

thank you for the acknowledgement. the Afghans have much to resent but most of the responsibility for the deplorable situation in Afghanistan and the attendant resentment lies not with "the international community".
they may prefer blaming heathen Westerners, but the source of most of their troubles lies at home and with their neighbors. that outsiders haven't been of much help in the last half-dozen years is unfortunate and not deliberate.

the idea that there will be vast economic opportunity in Afghanistan outside of opium cultivation is extremely odd. there's nothing in Afghanistan to suggest any immediate opportunity for prosperity. everything has been looted or destroyed in the last few decades and there's no money in the government coffers that's not put there by those "international community" folks.

there isn't going to be any money for a single bit of development anywhere in Afghanistan unless it comes from drug running or those resented "ic" guys.

-----" rapid increase in

-----" rapid increase in civilian deaths from drone attacks...."---

what rapid increase from drone attacks??????????

the increase in civilian deaths is overwhelmingly from insurgent attacks.

try demonstrating any truth to that claim, if you would.

Comment with your Facebook account



Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...