Monday, August 28, 2006

Look Out For Tradition

In Afghanistan, centuries of tradition are threatening our efforts to form a somewhat effective central government reigning over loosely associated provinces:

The "center", in true Afghan tradition, tends to take care of itself, at the expense of the provinces. The provinces (the tribes) take it for a while, get really, really upset, and rebel. At the moment, provinces are unhappy, edging towards restless. That's already happening in the south, where the pro-Taliban tribes never really accepted losing control of the country five years ago.

Add in more poppy production and some Taliban who are getting some training, and we could face open revolt of unhappy provincials who see the central government as just another tribe taking care of its own.

The jihadi enemy has suffered very heavy casualties in their latest summer offensive; but the real threat is fighting the local tradition that tends to create enemies inside Afghanistan.

We wouldn't care if it wasn't for the fact that in the remote areas, jihadis have trained to kill us and could again if we don't help the locals police the area.

This is a serious problem for us. We really need a strategy that doesn't rely on overcoming ways of life stretching back centuries. It would be nice to have a high altitude Sweden in Central Asia but if that proves too ambitious, what do we do?