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From the Publisher Dear AFP Readers,

Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Cogan ‘12

In the wake of the thwarted Al Qaeda terror attack on Christmas Day, America’s policy towards Yemen became a priority. Yemen presents tricky questions for the US and for President Obama, who campaigned on a conciliatory foreign policy. He will be forced to balance his obligation to keep America safe with his campaign promises on this and other issues. Given that Americans have neglected Yemen in recent years, Morris Breitbart’s exploration of the history of instability in Yemen and its effects on regional politics should prove to be a useful primer. On the same topic, Vyas Ramasubramani argues in his article that the United States needs a more vigorous effort in Yemen, including a redoubled effort to strengthen the government. On another front of the War on Terror, the Obama surge is getting underway. Part of the Iraq model would require bringing anti-government actors into the government fold. In that spirit, the US recently orchestrated a deal in which the Shinwari tribe will fight the Taliban in exchange for aid. Alex Simon makes the case that Afghan President Hamid Karzai ought not go so far as to negotiate with the Taliban right now, though. Elsewhere in the world, Sam Norton argues in this month’s cover story that Greece deserves a bailout. Although security concerns remain a primary question in foreign policy, Sam calls our attention back to the question of restoring free global markets. In the case of Greece, this also involves the post-recession future of the European Union.

Publisher Brian Lipshutz ‘12 Managing Editors Tara Lewis ‘11 Matthew Arons ‘13 Taman Narayan ‘13 Jake Nebel ‘13 Editors

Jon Bradshaw ‘10 Heejin Cho ‘10 Matthew Drecun ‘10 ‘10 Jon Extein Jonathan Giuffrida ‘10 Lucas Issacharoff ‘10 Catalina Valencia ‘10 ‘11 Aaron Abelson Brendan Carroll ‘11 ‘11 Vishal Chanani Katherine Gaudyn ‘11 Rachel Jackson ‘11 Addie Lerner ‘11 Elias Sánchez-Eppler ‘11 ‘11 Zayn Siddique

Eric Stern Kit Thayer Oliver Bloom Yun Chung Sweta Haldar Jim Hao Natalie Kim Charlie Metzger Jay Parikh Peter Wang Don Butterworth Jonathan Lin Emily VanderLinden Audrye Wong

‘11 ‘11 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘12 ‘13 ‘13 ‘13 ‘13


Yanran Chen ‘12, Production Manager Jonathan Giuffrida ‘10 Kelly Lack ‘10 Emily VanderLinden ‘13

Closer to home, I look forward to working with Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Cogan and the entire AFP team over the coming year to build on the work of last year’s leadership, both in print and online. Thanks for reading.

Business Staff

Emma Cunningham ‘11

All the best, Brian Lipshutz Publisher

American Foreign Policy is a student-written, student-run publication based at Princeton University. It was founded in the wake of September 11th to provide Princeton students with a forum to discuss the difficult problems and choices facing the United States in the world. American Foreign Policy magazine is sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. No part of this publication should be construed to promote any pending legislation or to support any candidate for office. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Woodrow Wilson School, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the James Madison Program, Princeton University, or American Foreign Policy. AFP gladly accepts letters to the editor, article proposals, and donations, which are fully tax-deductible. All correspondence may be directed to: American Foreign Policy, 5406 Frist Center, Princeton, NJ 08544


Samuel Roeca ‘12

Editors-in-Chief Emeritus Dan May ‘11 Rush Doshi ‘11 AFP Advisory Board

Christina Paxson: Dean, Woodrow Wilson School Katherine Newman: Director, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies Robert P. George: Director, James Madison Program G. John Ikenberry: Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs

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AFP Cover Story

A merican Foreign Policy March 2010 Volume IX, Issue V ta b l e o f co n t e n ts


A Necessary Evil Why the US Should Push for a Greek Bailout Sam Norton ‘12


Mob Rule How to Reduce Immigrant Tensions in Italy Emma Cunningham ‘11


AFP Quiz


Yemen Then and Now Lessons from the North Yemen Civil War Morris Breitbart ‘12

Benjamin Cogan ‘12


Global Update


The Long Road Nation Building in Yemen Vyas Ramasubramani ‘13


In Context


From the Ground Up How Haiti Should Recover Natalie Kim ‘12

Taman Narayan ‘13

Tara Lewis ‘11


A Moral Question Addressing Human Rights in Xinjiang Lauren Zumbach ‘13


Remaining on the Offensive Why the US Should Fight the Taliban Alex Simon ‘12

Photo Credits: Creative Commons images from Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

March 2010

Cover Image by Yanran Chen


Cover Story

The All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) marches during a general strike in Athens, Greece. Photo from flickr.

A Necessary Evil Why the US Should Push for a Greek Bailout


ith the US facing significant economic challenges of its own, it is easy for it to overlook the impact of the so-called “Great Recession” on the rest of the world. In today’s interconnected marketplace, however, economic problems in foreign countries can have major political ramifications for the rest of the world. Just as the Great Depression contributed to the rise of authoritarian regimes in Europe, today’s economic downturn could lead to the destruction of the American-led liberal order if the negative repercussions of the crisis cannot be contained. One of the most prominent trouble spots in the global economy is Greece.


Sam Norton ‘12 The government’s massive and rapidly expanding debt burden has raised concerns that the nation might be forced to declare bankruptcy. In light of this danger, the US ought to take action to resolve Europe’s internal dilemma. It should push for measures to contain the crisis while preventing similar situations from arising elsewhere. Greece’s default would be disastrous for the United States. It would threaten to reverse the nascent global economic recovery and work to destabilize the European Union. If Greece defaults on its loans, investors will likely lose confidence in other European countries with high debt ratios, raising borrowing rates to prohibitive levels. This would create

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a vicious cycle in which those countries would then find it much more difficult to finance debt, which could possibly trigger further default. Unfortunately, numerous obstacles exist to a potential EU-orchestrated bailout. There are legal and practical questions to deal with, as well as political considerations. Already, public officials in other EU nations, most notably Germany, have publicly voiced skepticism about whether to intervene in Greece, citing the high costs associated with such a step. After several agonizing months of uncertainty, it seems as though most countries have emerged from the depths of the economic collapse that ensued following the 2008 financial panic. US GDP expanded by 5.7 percent in the third quarter of 2009, while Europe has witnessed slowing rates of decline, and in some cases, including Great Britain and France, even modest growth. The response undertaken during the crisis by Western leaders, most notably US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was extraordi-

nary, combining bank bailouts with expansionary fiscal and monetary policies. While these remedies appear to have succeeded to a degree, they came at an enormous cost; both the United States and Great Britain now face budget deficits in excess of 10 percent of GDP. If the economy enters what experts have dubbed a “double-dip” recession, in which the initial recovery is followed by a second downturn, it is unlikely that governments will be able to intervene on the same scale as they did during the initial phase of the crisis, owing to insufficient resources and public hostility. The US spent $800 billion on last year’s economic stimulus package while the Federal Reserve drove interest rates to record lows. Incurring more debt through, for example, another stimulus package would further risk the longterm financial stability of the United States. Thus, it is imperative that the United States and its allies maintain the current fragile, uneven recovery, or they will be doomed to suffer a protracted period of economic underperformance similar to Japan’s “Lost Decade.” With so much depending on the revival of Western economies, any potential obstacle to the achievement of that goal must be removed. Greek insolvency would not only bring its own economy to a grinding halt, but could also have a domino effect. Many other members of the European Union, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland, are also coping with excessive debt levels incurred by rampant spending over the past decade and sharp drops in revenue owing to the recession. In spite of EU rules requiring that budget deficits not exceed 3 percent of GDP, the lack of any effective enforcement mechanism, combined with “creative accounting,” has allowed prof ligacy to go unpunished. Already, confidence in the Euro has plummeted, causing its relative value to drop. Concern about the future of the common market could lead Eastern European nations, such Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, to rethink their planned entry into the Euro Zone, while strengthening the appeal of “Euroskepticism.” Critics of the Euro have long argued that a monetary union would lead to this kind of a crisis; now, their warnings appear to be vindicated. A weakened EU is not an outcome

Cover Story

that would be favorable for the United States. Although American and European politicians have their differences on some issues, a strong, unified Europe is in the United States’ best interest. As the US combats the complex and pressing questions of international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, human rights abuses, trade negotiations, Third World poverty, and environmental degradation, it is important to have a partner capable of assisting in its effort to provide global leadership. A weak and divided Europe cannot fulfill this role if it is plagued by economic disunity and decline. To this end, the United States ought to play an active part in preventing

“Although American and European politicians have their differences on some issues, a strong, unified Europe is in the United States’ best interest.” Greek default. It should lean heavily on France and Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouses, to orchestrate a bailout that includes strict austerity conditions, cutting spending and raising interest rates, along the lines of International Monetary Fund standards. A major US diplomatic campaign, with the active involvement of President Obama, can display the vitality of this issue. Greece needs more than a band-aid solution; it needs a complete overhaul of its economic system. For years, Greece has run deficits well above EU limits. Rampant corruption and wasteful spending have brought the country to its current juncture. Even today, in the midst of the crisis, intransigent public sector unions have organized street protests in Athens and elsewhere, demanding immunity from the severe repercussions of fiscal austerity.

March 2010

Critics contend that past interventions that imposed austerity have had disastrous consequences. While this did occur in the short term in some cases, such as the Asian economic crisis of 1998, in the long run, budgetary restraint is the only way to set countries on the path toward sustainable growth, as opposed to a temporary expansion followed by yet another crisis. Countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, and South Korea, all of which accepted IMF loans in the late 1990s, rooted out corporate mismanagement and other practices that inhibited productivity, and the result was protracted economic expansion over the course of the past decade. Like the countries of East Asia, Greece cannot be given a bailout without strings attached because it will create a problem of moral hazard, allowing Spain, Italy, and Portugal to continue their prodigal ways in hopes that they too will be protected. Instead, they should be following the example of Ireland, which in recent months has introduced tough reforms designed to control its budget deficit, including sharp pay cuts for civil servants. Although controversial, these measures have been largely accepted by the Irish public, as they acknowledge that the short-term pain of austerity is preferable to continued financial turmoil. Hopefully Greece will demonstrate a comparable degree of responsibility in dealing with its dire financial situation. US involvement is crucial to ensuring that a rescue package is formulated and organized according to the principles of austerity. France and Germany are hesitant to offer assistance, but could be persuaded if the United States emphasizes the importance of the Greek situation to the global recovery and the perils of allowing the crisis to spread. Such an approach will reap vast rewards for the US and its allies in the form of increased economic growth and greater geopolitical stability. For these reasons, President Obama ought to make securing aid for Greece a top priority. Afp Sam may be reached at



Mob Rule How to Reduce Immigrant Tensions in Italy


urning cars, smashed windows, thrown rocks, and police dressed in riot gear were all features of the riots in Rosarno, Calabria, Italy this past January. The violence broke out after African immigrant workers took to the streets to protest the pellet-gun shooting of an African worker by Italian youths while the worker was laboring in a nearby orchard. It was one of the most extreme immigrant riots ever seen in Italy, and over 70 immigrants and policemen were reported injured in the two days of mayhem. The protests were an unfortunate manifestation of the racial tensions between immigrant workers and native Italians that have long been present all over Italy, but this time there was also evidence that the Calabrian crime families were involved. The recent immigrant riots in Rosarno are less an outgrowth of racism and tension between the immigrant and local populations than a result of the government’s failure to keep the power of organized crime in Southern Italy in check. Indeed, the Italian government has turned a blind eye to the operations of organized crime in the region, which seems contradictory given how interrelated the issues of immigration and organized crime are there. If Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is serious about cracking down on illegal immigration, it is not stronger immigration laws he needs to focus on, but rather a fight against the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, and the corruption that makes organized crime so difficult to stamp out. The events in Rosarno were not the first time that organized crime has been tied to immigrant unrest in Italy. In September of 2008, the execution of six African immigrants by the Neapol-


Emma Cunningham ‘11 itan mafia in Castel Volturno spurred such intense riots that the Italian government was forced to call in the Italian National Guard to restore order. In February 2009, immigrants awaiting deportation set fire to the detention center on the Island of Lampedusa on which they were being held. The immigrant unrest situation is not new, and the Italian government’s failure to

“Until the Italian government recognizes the need for serious legislation to provide immigrants with other options than turning to organized crime syndicates for their livelihood, further mistreatment and violence is inevitable.” address it constitutes gross negligence. While immigrants perform vital roles for the Italian economy, they exist in an underclass entirely distinct from mainstream society. There are an estimated 4 million legal immigrants in Italy out of a total population of 60 million, along with an unknown number of illegal immigrants. Corruption or skewed data often obscure the status of these workers. The Italian government has only just started to

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seriously acknowledge the problems of ignoring such a large immigrant population. In addition, organized crime syndicates often shield illegal immigrants from Italian authorities, so their actual numbers and locations are not known. As many aspects of the Italian economy are based on the exploitation of low-cost immigrant labor, the wellbeing of the country depends on the availability of this labor. The International Organization for Immigration estimates that immigrant labor accounts for 9 percent of Italy’s GDP. Despite this, immigrants are not integrated into Italian society, live in squalid conditions in makeshift houses outside cities, and often lack basic rights such as access to amenities, health care, or job contracts. In Rosarno, for example, official statistics state that there are about 1,600 agricultural workers, among whom only 36 are non-Italian. This is nowhere near the truth; in fact, about 1,200 African immigrants perform the majority of the agricultural work in the area. The immigrants have no job contracts, so they must endure anything from beatings, to crime bosses’ demands for kickbacks, to downright refusal to pay wages. Going to the police is not an option, especially for those who are in Italy illegally. The underlying discontent that caused the immigrant population to react so strongly to an attack on one of their own is likely a result of the strong control the ‘Ndrangheta has over their jobs and their lives. Mass riots are the only way for the African immigrants to express their discontent because if an individual stands up to the ‘Ndrangheta alone, he is immediately killed (such as in Castel Volturno two years earlier). Because they have no legal status or job contracts, illegal immigrants also cannot petition the police about their ill treatment and exploitation. The Italian government needs to acknowledge the discontent and the desperation of the immigrant population, and move to stop their exploitation rather than leaving them to fend for themselves against groups such as the ‘Ndrangheta. Italian organized crime networks maintain a strong presence in Southern Italy, which includes Calabria, to

this day. Unlike the most common mafia structure, the ‘Ndrangheta derives its strength from a horizontal network of blood ties, making it very difficult for the Italian authorities to infiltrate the organization. The head of Italy’s National Anti-Mafia Commission has stated that the ‘Ndrangheta maintains “extraordinary control” over Calabria. The ‘Ndrangheta controls the agriculture market in Calabria, and much of the rest of the economy as well. Often an African immigrant’s ticket to Italy and the potential for a new and better life is a deal with the ‘Ndrangheta, a ticket to Calabria, permission to live on abandoned land outside town, and work as a day laborer—paid in cash— all with no welfare benefits, or the protection of safety and labor laws. African immigrants in Calabria come to depend on the ‘Ndrangheta for their livelihood, and are ultimately at their mercy. Facilitated by organized crime from one end to the other, this system completely bypasses the immigration and labor laws of Italy. Therefore, any attempt by the Italian authorities to strengthen immigrant regulations will most likely be useless without also targeting the fundamental problem. Italian policy should focus on identifying and dismantling the organized crime system. This pattern of interaction between the ‘Ndrangheta and African immigrants has led to a large, underpaid, heavily segregated African immigrant population in Rosarno. The impoverishment of Calabria exacerbates the tensions. Whereas in other regions of Italy local Italians scorn the low-paying jobs claimed by immigrants, in Calabria the $30/day that African immigrants make in the orchards is not much different than the income of many locals. The recent economic downturn has been painful for Italy as a whole, but for Calabria and the other relatively poor southern regions of Italy the effect is magnified and devastating. It creates competition between the locals and the immigrants for income, a further potential source of discord between the two groups. Since the ‘Ndrangheta continues to bring in more and more immigrant labor, it is in fact creating competition with the local laborers and indirectly


contributing to increased tension. How, then, did the situation reach this intractable point? Blame rests with the government’s policies on immigration and organized crime, both of which are ineffective and prone to high levels of corruption. Although Berlusconi announced a new 10-point plan to fight organized crime following the Rosarno riots, his words have come to naught. Furthermore, government officials have misrepresented the problem with organized crime in Calabria, and in Southern Italy more broadly, as a problem with illegal immigrant populations. Berlusconi has been known to make strongly antiimmigrant statements, and recently praised Italy’s crackdown on illegal immigration, reasoning that fewer foreigners in Italy means fewer people to fill the ranks of organized crime syndicates. Such a view is a fundamental misconception of the immigrantorganized crime relationship; since the ‘Ndrangheta has a strong family structure, immigrants are not filling the ranks, but are instead a source of cheap labor to be exploited. They are victims, not accomplices. Harsh immigration policies will only drive immigrants into further reliance on the organized crime networks such as the system in Rosarno. Until the Italian government recognizes the need for serious legislation to provide immigrants with other options than turning to organized crime syndicates for their livelihood, further mistreatment and violence are inevitable. Strong anti-immigration laws will not solve organized crime problems. A strong government push against the power of organized crime will cut off both the illegal activities of mafia families and the avenue for illegal immigration at the same time: Prendere due piccioni con una fava. That is, kill two birds with one stone. Afp

AFP Quiz Multiple Choice Monthly Benjamin Cogan ‘12 1. Which Eurozone country is considered to be at risk of default? a. Greece b. Portugal c. Spain d. All of the above 2. How many hours can the new Israeli drone fighter fly without refueling? a. 10 b. 20 c. 30 d. 40 3. The recent earthquake in Chile was approximately how many times stronger than the January 12th earthquake in Haiti? a. 5× b. 10× c. 100× d. 1000× 4. What is the name of the main opposition leader to the military junta in Myanmar, whose most recent appeal for freedom was denied by the Burmese Supreme Court? a. Aung San Suu Kyi b. U Tin Oo c. Ne Win d. Than Shwe 5. Which country is hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup? a. Morocco b. Egypt c. South Africa d. Lesotho

Emma may be reached at

March 2010


Middle East

Yemen Then and Now Lessons from the North Yemen Civil War


he Houthis, a rebel group in northern Yemen, have been fighting against the Yemeni government since 2004. But only recently, in the aftermath of the attempted Christmas day bombing by Yemeni national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has the conflict captured the attention of the Western world. Observers increasingly fear that the Houthi conflict has diverted Yemen’s limited resources away from combating al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in the Arabian Peninsula. Spectators also fear that the conflict may morph into a new front in the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for regional

Morris Breitbart ‘12 hegemony. This is not the first time that an internal conflict in Yemen has become the epicenter of regional power tensions between major Middle Eastern states. In 1962, a coup d’état carried out by republican forces in Yemen overthrew the ruling Zaydi imamate. This coup sparked a civil war that lasted until 1970 and drew in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the major Middle East powers of the day. While the scale of the present day conflict cannot compare to the Yemen Civil War, a vicious, drawn-out clash that resulted in over 100,000 deaths, policymakers would do well to study the lessons of Yemeni history. As the United

States helps Yemen in its counter-terrorist campaign against al-Qaeda, it must pay close attention to these lessons to ensure that the country’s internal conflicts do not morph into a costly and destabilizing regional power struggle. Yemen already shows signs of becoming a battleground for Middle Eastern powers. This past November, Houthi rebels crossed into Saudi territory and attacked a Saudi patrol, claiming that Saudi Arabia was assisting Yemen in its counter-Houthi offensive. This raid precipitated a wider Saudi campaign to crush the Houthi forces that has resulted in hundreds of deaths on both sides. Saudi Arabia also fears that Iran is supporting the Houthis to undermine Saudi Arabia’s regional position. This belief is bolstered by the rebels’ sympathetic portrayal in the Iranian media and their use of Katyusha rockets, weapons Iran has also provided to Hezbollah and Hamas, its other proxy groups in the region. Al-Arabiya similarly reports that Yemeni authorities have captured unmarked ships with Iranian crews carrying weapons bound for the rebels.

A boy waits in line for food at the Mazraq refugee camp in Hajjah province in Yemen during October 2009. Photo from flickr.


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Iran’s support for the Houthis is particularly significant because the rebels are Zaydis, a small, heterodox sect of Shia Islam highly distinct from the Iranian Twelver Shi’ism. Iran’s support of not merely the Houthi Zaydis but also radical Sunni groups like al-Qaeda and Hamas demonstrates that the nation’s policy choices are dictated not by only religious doctrine but by an attempt to undermine and destabilize competing governments of the region. This provides a striking parallel to the Civil War in North Yemen. Then, as now, Yemen served as a battleground for regional hegemony. Egypt, under the leadership of Abdel Nasser, sought to extend its influence over Saudi Arabia by supporting the republican forces in Yemen. These forces overthrew the Zaydi royalists, who received support from Saudi Arabia despite the clear doctrinal differences between the faith of the Zaydis and Saudi Arabia’s conservative Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam. Ultimately, religious considerations took a backseat to the threat posed by revolutionary Egypt to the Saudi monarchy. Though the current Yemeni conflict has not yet resulted in war, Yemen continues to serve as a crucial hot spot for regional power struggles, and the United States must understand that forces greater than religion are at

Middle East

play. The past conflict also provides important lessons about how impermanent and tenuous alliances in the region can be. In the past war, the Houthi rebels, now viewed as an Iranian proxy, received support from Saudi Arabia. Iran also supported the Zaydi royalists, sharing

“Saudi Arabia fears that Iran is supporting the Houthis to undermine Saudi Arabia’s regional position.”

the Saudis’ fear of the growing power of revolutionary Egypt. Because alliances in this troubled area are clearly motivated by strategic convenience rather than, as some in the West believe, religion, these alliances can change radically over the course of mere decades. The potential danger of growing

A Yemeni fighter prays during the North Yemen Civil War in this photo dating from the 1960s. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Iranian influence is perhaps the greatest specific lesson for the US. At the beginning of February, the Houthi rebels and Yemeni government signed a cease-fire. While this cease-fire has admittedly been breached on occasion, the United States now has an opportunity to capitalize on the relative lapse in violence and take steps to prevent Iran from turning the conflict into a proxy war that could disintegrate into a second Yemeni civil war. One important step that the US can take in order to prevent the Yemeni conflict from becoming part of this growing trend is to devote its naval resources in the Gulf of Aden to assisting the Yemeni government in preventing Iranian weapons from reaching Houthi rebels. A concurrent effort to convince Saudi Arabia, a nation in which the US stations troops, to lessen its direct involvement in Yemen could also have important long-term consequences in lessening the scope of the conflict. US policymakers must recognize that, as in the past, the alignments between regional powers and their proxies in Yemen are not based primarily on a religious Sunni-Shia divide but are instead grounded in strategic concerns. While current regional alignments in the Middle East may seem to be set in stone, they in fact may undergo dramatic and unexpected shifts as the strategic environment on the ground fluctuates. Therefore, when US policy makers confront Yemen and the Middle East as a whole, they must strive to remain a step ahead of the game, drawing lessons from the North Yemeni Civil War about the mutability and everchanging nature of alliances and hostilities in the region. Afp

Morris may be reached at

AFP Quiz Answers Multiple Choice Monthly 1. D 2. B 3. D 4. A 5. C

March 2010



B: The DUTCH government col- C: THE UNITED STATES relapses after major infighting over the country’s war efforts in Afghanistan, highlighting the significant difficulties the war faces as it approaches its tenth year.

sumes diplomatic ties with SYRIA after a five-year lull in an attempt to gain President Bashar Assad’s support in resolving a number of Middle Eastern conflicts.


H: Violence breaks out once

I: President Obama meets with

The 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver, CANADA, marred by the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili a day before the Opening Ceremonies, recovers with a fortnight of record-setting TV ratings and general acclaim from international observers.

A peace deal in SUDAN between President Omar Bashir and a leading rebel group, as well as new overtures from CHAD, reignites hopes of finally quelling the genocide in Darfur.


more in the volatile Kashmir region, immediately increasing tensions between INDIA and PAKISTAN and putting a hold on the two countries’ tentative cooperation on terrorism issues.

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the Dalai Lama, expressing his “strong support” for Tibetan rights and sparking a predictable outcry from leaders in CHINA.



F: CHILE elects Sebastian Pi-

High drama unfolds in GREAT BRITAIN as former Prime Minister Tony Blair justifies his decision to go to war in Iraq before a panel of skeptical, if not downright hostile, members of a formal inquiry committee.

The United States quietly restores aid to HONDURAS in the aftermath of President Porfirio Lobo’s election victory. Meanwhile, Manuel Zelaya remaines in exile in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, signaling America’s tacit acknowledgment that Zelaya is unlikely to retake power.

J: A number of high-level military

K: The EUROPEAN UNION ap- L: The Israeli Mossad assassinates

officials are detained in TURKEY, signaling the increasing dominance of the civilian government led by Recep Erdogan over the once untouchable military.

ñera as its president, the first time a conservative has been elected in half a century.

proves a genetically modified crop a Palestinian leader in the UNITED strain for the first time in more than ARAB EMIRATES, sparking a dipa decade. lomatic crisis with the UK because the operation involved forged British passports.

March 2010


Middle East

The Long Road Nation Building in Yemen


he War on Terror, which began in Afghanistan and grew to encompass Iraq, is now making its way to Yemen. The Obama administration’s actions so far have been limited to providing monetary aid, ordering drone strikes, and dispatching a small number of intelligence officers to the area, but this strategy insufficiently addresses the lack of effective governance in Yemen. As the effort in Afghanistan has made evident, no amount of American expenditure will be enough to defeat al-Qaeda if there is not a strong central government ready to take over once the region has been stabilized. The US should focus on establishing a legitimately functional government in Yemen that can both govern the nation and combat al-Qaeda with minimal external assistance. Because the US military is already heavily engaged in two countries, it cannot hope to fight successfully in yet another region. Nevertheless, Yemen will need assistance from the US to address its political and economic issues. The US recently raised the budget for military aid to Yemen from $67 million to $150 million. The American money will be used to finance military operations and train Yemeni soldiers, but an increase in military aid treats the symptoms rather than the disease. al-Qaeda occupies nations that are susceptible to its influence; its presence, therefore, is a symptom of the government’s ineffectiveness. The US government needs to recognize that al-Qaeda’s presence in Yemen demonstrates that the problems that allowed al-Qaeda to move into Yemen in the first place have yet to be resolved. Yemen is already the poorest nation in the Arab world, and its oil—which accounts for 90 percent of its exports—is set to run out within the next decade. Yemen’s economic infrastructure needs restructuring from the ground up, but various financial crises have cut off foreign investments at crucial junctures, and internal strife has crippled the government’s own programs.


Vyas Ramasubramani ‘13 Unfortunately, weapons sales have been one of its most consistent sources of revenue. There are approximately 60 guns for every 100 people in the nation, and streets are crowded with dealers selling everything from pistols to rockets. But even this limited, damaging economic activity is being threatened—Sana’a is in danger of becoming the first world capital to run out of water. Yemen’s economic weakness is only one of the problems that allow for the presence of al-Qaeda. Another major factor is the weakness of the federal government, which many blame for the country’s frail economy. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has held the office since Yemen’s reunification in 1990, has squandered much of the nation’s wealth playing patronage politics; even now, he is trying to do so to assure his son’s succession to his position. He has also often used US aid that was expressly intended for counterterrorism to combat two insurgencies. Despite his flaunting of its authority, the US is unwilling to risk alienating one of its few supporters in the Middle East and has not confronted Saleh. Those insurgencies are the other visible symptoms of the pervasive disease in Yemen’s government. In the north, the government has been fighting a civil war for six years against rebels known as the Houthis. Although their openly extremist views have raised concerns that their goal is to establish a fundamentalist Muslim state, the Houthis claim that their main goal is to mount a secular opposition to Saleh’s corrupt presidency. Their conflict with Saleh dates back to their failure to attain power after Yemen was unified in the 1990s. They then settled in the impoverished Sa’dah region, where the poor economic conditions have allowed them to cultivate support. More recently, a secessionist movement has emerged in south Yemen due to various economic grievances against the north. People in the south claim that, since unification, the north has exploited their oil fields and given them nothing in return. This corrup-

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tion can be traced back to Saleh, who has used money to retain control of the state. These symptoms show precisely what is ailing Yemen: The people do not respect the government. This is largely because the Yemeni people no longer see Saleh as a legitimate leader. His influence has always been limited to a small radius around Sana’a; various tribal groups control the majority of the nation. Furthermore, Saleh has never managed to really connect with these tribes, and he has not been effective in stopping the Houthis. If Islamic fundamentalism and sectarian violence were avoided, there would still be a lack of faith in Saleh’s government. Regardless of al-Qaeda’s presence, Yemen is on the verge of state failure. Ridding it of al-Qaeda now will not prevent the return of al-Qaeda after the collapse of the state, and a civil war, which would inevitably follow the collapse of the state, would make it even more difficult to purge Yemen of the terrorist organization.

“If Islamic fundamentalism and sectarian violence were avoided, there would still be a lack of faith in Saleh’s government.” The recent operation in Marja, Afghanistan demonstrates the US military’s recognition of their primary failure in Afghanistan: By ignoring the state-building aspect of the operation, the US military negated the positive effects of training a local military and driving out terrorists. Reports coming out of Marja suggest that despite their training, the Afghani military is playing a much smaller part in the offensive than the American army. Lessons from Afghanistan are crucial for Yemen. The impulse for action has to come from within the country, and in order for that to happen, there must be a strong central government controlling the situation.

Although the US seems primarily concerned with counterterrorism in Yemen, US aid given for this purpose will be of little use, as the ineffectiveness of the Yemeni military and intelligence operatives will continue to hinder US efforts. Furthermore, any operations successful in eliminating al-Qaeda will simply leave a vacuum that will be filled by new terrorists. The solution is to fill that vacuum with a stronger Yemeni government now that can effectively unify the nation. In order to ensure that this happens, the US must direct its aid towards nation building. Because Yemen already has a government structure in place, the US must find a way to encourage the Yemeni people to recognize its legitimacy. Easing the southerners’ lack of faith may be aided by moving the capital, which may prove necessary in any case due to the water situation in Sana’a. In addition, the current distribution of seats in Yemen’s legislative body favors the region that was originally North Yemen, so redistricting would provide further amends. The US should also fund education and other social programs. To ensure cooperation, the continuation of American aid should depend on adherence to previous objectives. The success of this plan may require that the US withdraw its unconditional support of Saleh. While the US may prefer a pro-Western leader, the cost simply may be too high. A truly authoritative government requires a high level of support within the nation that Saleh is unlikely to attain. Ultimately, even if Al-Qaeda is eliminated now, allowing Yemen to remain a fragmented nation will leave the door open for al-Qaeda’s return. The past eight years in Afghanistan have demonstrated the futility of trying to remove al-Qaeda without also addressing the more fundamental problems of the country. The key to successfully driving al-Qaeda out of Yemen is not to continue attacking its strongholds. The means of finding a lasting solution for Yemen is to help stabilize the government, which would allow it to deal with the local faction of al-Qaeda on its own. Afp

Middle East

In Context Compiled by Tara Lewis ‘11

“Argentina must be left in no doubt once again by the British Government that the islands will remain British territory for as long as the islanders wish it. Sovereignty over the islands is therefore not up for negotiation.” William Hague, Shadow Foreign Minister of Britain, calling for an increased naval presence near the Falkland Islands to protect Britain’s oil interests offshore.

“You have the charisma of a wet rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.” Nigel Farage, UK Independent Party’s Member of European Parliament, insulting the new European Union President Herman Van Rompuy, in person, in the European Parliament.

“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against [the Prophet] Muhammad, God and the Qur’an.” Libyan President Moammar al-Gadhafi calling for a jihad against Switzerland due to its recent ban on minarets.

“Presidents get swollen heads.” Sayed Habib Sadat, an Afghani hatmaker, on how President Hamid Karzai’s “hat measurements” have increased since he assumed the presidency.

“This isn’t about a lie or a conspiracy or a deceit or a deception. It’s a decision.” Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Britain, defending himself against accusations that he lied to Parliament and the British people about Britain’s entry into the Iraq war.

“It’s easy being Vice President—you don’t have to do anything.” Vice President Joe Biden to a lawmaker before the White House health care summit in February.

“People tend to be anxious about big, rapidly changing, nontransparent things—China is all three.” David Lampton, Professor of China Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Vyas may be reached at

Sources:,, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal)

March 2010


Latin America

From the Ground Up How Haiti Should Recover


magnitude 7.0 earthquake rumbled for about 35 seconds at 4:53 p.m. on Tuesday, January 12, 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Fifty-two aftershocks, 217,000 casualties, and seven weeks after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, the Haitian people are slipping from the world’s attention. After the earthquake, the international community supported Haiti with over $2.4 billion dollars and continues to supply countless aid and rescue workers. Unfortunately, Haiti’s lack of political and physical infrastructure makes this disaster one of the most complex challenges many aid organizations have ever confronted. To prevent such logistical problems in the future, Haiti must develop a long-term strategy that includes a more centralized aid administration, a strong security force, and a government willing to tackle urban decay with significant infrastructure improvements. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with a GDP per capita of only $1,291. Less than half of the country’s citizens have access to clean drinking water and malnutrition is endemic. From its founding by former slaves in 1791, the country has had more than its share of misrule; a UN peacekeeping mission has been stationed in the country ever since then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile in 2004. Despite its difficult history, Haiti had just begun to improve, politically and economically, before the earthquake. The government had created a national developmental strategy in 2009, and the international community forgave much of Haiti’s debt. President Obama commented that the earthquake striking in Haiti’s rare period of optimism made it


Natalie Kim ‘12 particularly “cruel and incomprehensible.” In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the international community reacted promptly and generously. The US sent navy and coast guard ships to Haiti within hours and placed up to 2,000 marines on reserve, ready to be dispatched to the country if necessary. The United Nations, which had lost

“Many experts suggest the government create programs to support the movement of already existing populations out of the overpopulated capital and into towns in order to counter negative effects of urbanization.”

more than 40 personnel in the quake, including its mission chief Hedi Annabi, offered $10 million in immediate emergency relief, as well as former President Bill Clinton as a special envoy. Total long-term aid pledges total over $2.4 billion worldwide. Despite the influx of aid pledges, Haiti’s ruined roads, seaports and airports, and political structure prevent ample aid from reaching those who

American Foreign Policy

need it. Supplies were initially shipped into Haiti through the neighboring Dominican Republic; later, officials had to turn away humanitarian aid as Haitian airports lacked landing capacity. On January 31, flights transporting critically injured Haitians into the US were suspended. Finally, aid officials were unable to bring in heavy-duty machinery to clear the rubble and rescue survivors until a day after the earthquake, time being of the utmost essence in rescue operations. Although Haitians have shown surprising resilience and goodwill towards each other, sustained delays of supplies are spurring growing violence and unrest. Gangs have assumed authority in some of Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods, rendering some roads impassable and cutting off aid to some of the people most in need. The national penitentiary was damaged enough that some inmates could escape, adding to the chaos. Urgent measures are needed in order to ensure that basic needs are met in the country. A more centralized aid administration should take over from the over 10,000 NGOs and variegated lot of UN peacekeepers—a combination of NGO delegations and US troops who are working out of sync—in Haiti. The UN should harmonize its mission by focusing on maintaining law and order, establishing security over unstable regions, and regulating the distribution of supplies that are necessary. In order for these goals to be realized, the internationally community should help provide a military presence as well as further economic and humanitarian aid. President Obama has already committed 7,500 additional troops to contribute to recovery efforts, and according to Vice President Joe Biden, “[The American response wasn’t just] a humanitarian mission with the life cycle of a month … This is going to be a long slog.” There are debates over how long this commitment should last. While some, such as the French minister in charge of humanitarian aid, accused the US of “occupying” Haiti, others such as the US Navy’s Rear Admiral Ted Branch claim that as long as there is a clear knowledge and consensus that the US is there to restore Haiti, there should be no problems.

Latin America

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Haitians set up cities of impromptu tents throughout the capital after an earthquake measuring 7 or more on the Richter scale rocked Port-auPrince just before 5 p.m. on January 12, 2010.

Although Haitians have welcomed recent UN crackdowns against the gangs, discontent is growing around primarily logistical problems, such as the inefficient supply and distribution process of aid and organizers’ failure to give medical organizations such as Doctors Without Borders priority to land in the country’s main airport. When 10 American missionaries who tried to smuggle more than 30 children out of Haiti on February 5th were charged with kidnapping, distrust of the US increased. In order to successfully restore Haiti to pre-quake levels and better, the US must accomplish the dual task of assuming organizational authority and maintaining an image of goodwill that shows that the US there to help—not to compromise—Haiti’s sovereignty. But long-term efforts should not stop at restoring Haiti to its former infrastructure, says John Mutter, an expert on the affects of natural disasters

and a professor of Environmental Sciences and Public Affairs at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. Mutter recommends an international effort to improve buildings and government infrastructure so that Haiti could be better prepared to face and recover from future natural disasters, similar to how Chile has managed to spare itself from the debilitating disaster of the recent earthquake there. Many experts suggest the government create programs to support the movement of already existing populations out of the overpopulated capital and into towns in order to counter negative effects of urbanization, such as the formation of poorly built shantytowns that experienced significant damage in the January earthquake. Although long-term goals are materializing, Haiti’s immediate situation remains dire. Over a million people are homeless, 300,000 are injured, and 20 percent of Haiti’s jobs have been lost.

March 2010

In the long term, Haiti loses 80 percent of its college graduates to emigration, perpetuating the country’s lack of talent to initiate successful reforms. How the incapacitated domestic government will remobilize is unclear. Recovery to and beyond pre-earthquake levels will likely take decades. The emergency response by the international community has been admirable, but only the coming months and years will tell how quickly Haiti can advance through reconstruction and recovery efforts. Afp

Natalie may be reached at


East A sia

A Moral Question Addressing Human Rights in Xinjiang


n July 2009, riots erupted in the Xinjiang region of China following a dispute between Han Chinese and the Uighur minority. While the violence has since subsided, the underlying conflicts remain unresolved, making a repeat of the riots probable. In consideration of this, China has almost doubled its security budget—up to $423 million—for the oil-rich region. By failing to seriously respond to China’s abuses in Xinjiang, the US missed an opportunity to address China’s heavy-handed approach to dealing with ethnic tension. Given the overall status of US relations with China, a dramatic response would have been politically infeasible and likely inadvisable. But at a basic level, lodging a formal protest would have made it clear that human rights abuses would not be ignored. The Xinjiang riots erupted after two Uighur men died in a racially charged brawl between Han Chinese and Uighurs in a Guangdong toy factory. The mass unrest following the dispute resulted in nearly 200 deaths, thousands of injuries, and 1,500 arrests. While Uighurs mounted the initial protests, Xinjiang’s Han Chinese responded with an armed countermarch a few days later. Twenty-five of those arrested have received death sentences, and although their ethnicities were not officially released, the BBC reported that their names indicate that all were Uighurs. Additionally, Human Rights Watch reported police sweeps rounding up Uighur men in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province. China is still dealing with the aftermath of this event; approximately 20 Uighur men who fled to Cambodia following the riots were deported back to China. No information on the men has been released, other than the fact that


Lauren Zumbach ‘13 they are being or have been put on trial for what China considers criminal activities. Although it is less visible, the situation has not resolved itself in the months following the riots. Ethnic tensions are not new in Xinjiang. During the 1990s, a separatist group known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was blamed for over 200 terrorist attacks. The goal of ETIM was to establish an Islamic state independent of China. While most Uighurs do not sympathize with the ETIM and do not in fact seek to es-

“Considering the apparent repression that has occurred in Xinjiang, it is worth asking why there has been so little international interest in the conflict, especially compared to the worldwide outpouring of support for Tibet.” tablish an independent East Turkestan, they still resent both the Han population in Xinjiang as well as the Chinese government. Chinese development campaigns like “Open up the West” have brought massive infrastructure projects to the region, allowing more governmental control in the wake of ETIM attacks and strengthening ties to

American Foreign Policy

a region of great economic importance for China. But to foster these ties, the government has actively encouraged the migration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang. While Han made up just 5 percent of the Xinjiang population in the 1940s, today they account for approximately 40 percent. The massive influx of Han immigrants has increased competition for jobs and natural resources in the region. Furthermore, the Chinese government has placed tight controls on the practice of Islam. Although the Chinese government is not immediately at fault for the riots in Xinjiang, it set the stage for the violence. Considering the apparent repression that has occurred in Xinjiang, it is worth asking why there has been so little international interest in the conflict, especially compared to the worldwide outpouring of support for Tibet. On a basic level, the Uighurs lack an effective, recognizable leader. Although Rebiya Kadeer serves as a spokesperson for the group, she lacks the popular support enjoyed by, for one, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Of more fundamental concern is the fact that the Uighurs have yet to shake the implicit association with terrorism. ETIM’s attacks during the 1990s complicated outside views of the Uighur community. The Beijing government has used the presence of ETIM to justify its repressive tactics in Xinjiang. In the wake of 9/11, the US and other nations were willing to support that view. The United States labeled ETIM a terrorist organization, and 22 Uighurs from Afghanistan were held in Guantanamo Bay. All have since been cleared of any terrorist affiliation. However, China’s crackdown on ETIM appears to have worked. Experts have expressed doubt that it is still an active organization, although that is not to say that there is no threat. The Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), believed to be an offshoot of ETIM, organized bombings in the months leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nevertheless, these attacks are rare, and much of the unrest in Xinjiang, like July’s riots, is not associated with terrorist activity. In fact, although China continues to link violence to ETIM, many Chinese experts doubt the extent of ETIM’s op-

East Asia erations and believe the government relies on the threat of terrorism to mask its hard-line policies in Xinjiang. Although initially China was praised for allowing journalists fast and fairly wide-ranging access following July’s riots, this may have simultaneously served to deflect attention from the restrictions put in place. Internet and text-ing service began to be reinstated only in January, travel restrictions remain stringent, and no information has been provided about the Uighur men who vanished following police roundups. While China has used counter-terrorism to justify its heavyhanded tactics in dealing with Uighurs before, the lack of activity on the part of ETIM clearly undermines that rationale in this case. The United States, therefore, has no excuse for ignoring the human rights abuses that have occurred in Xinjiang. China’s repressive actions fail to address the real issues facing the Uighur population in Xinjiang. The Uighurs have legitimate grievances, and the cycle of violence and repression will undoubtedly be repeated. The United States has failed to acknowledge China’s repressive actions in Xinjiang in any meaningful way. In the aftermath, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed regret for the loss of life in Xinjiang. US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly gave a slightly stronger answer, calling for the Chinese government to “act to restore order and prevent further violence.” Yet even this avoids the issue of determining what caused the violence and what actions need to be taken to redress the wrongs. The US Commission on Religious Freedom was much closer to giving a response that could have had real impact, with a call for an independent investigation of the riots and targeted sanctions, but its message was not echoed by those with the power to implement those ideas. Human rights have not been a prominent issue on the Obama administration’s agenda in dealing with China. This is not the first time China has faced internal conflict. Events in Xinjiang are remarkably similar to the ongoing situation in Tibet. The fact that a violent response to human rights

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A mosque in Khotan, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. Religious and ethnic repression in the region by the Chinese government has drawn surprisingly little international criticism.

abuses has become a recurring phenomenon in China indicates that the US should make this more of a priority in its interactions with China. While the United States’ relationship with China is delicate and complicated, the United States should not have ignored China’s heavy-handed tactics in Xinjiang or any other region that is or that becomes a target. The US’s failure to act undermines the human rights values that the United States claims to uphold and sets a precedent of kowtowing to the Chinese. As China becomes a more assertive world power, both for human

March 2010

rights and its own foreign policy, it is important that the United States remains unafraid to be loudly critical of human rights abuses in China. Afp

Lauren may be reached at


Middle East

Remaining on the Offensive Why the US Should Fight the Taliban


e must reach out to all of our countrymen, even our disenchanted brothers,” affirms Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Mr. Karzai isn’t just echoing the counterinsurgency truism that victory requires winning over the population. Instead, he supports actively reaching out to the Taliban, including to its infamous leader, the one-eyed Mullah Omar. And though Pakistan stands squarely behind Karzai on this issue, the United States should not. On the contrary, the US should denounce reconciliation in the current Afghan climate as a genuinely unpalatable course. The Afghan government and its supporters need to exercise patience and focus on military operations, material incentives to undercut Taliban influence, and Pakistani cooperation for the time being. Only when the Taliban has been left in an unequivocally inferior negotiating position should reconciliation be considered. At present, the Taliban leadership is in no mood to negotiate; its position is too strong. Even if, however, the Taliban leadership were somehow swayed in the coming weeks, and the government managed to produce a set of policies—amnesty, political participation, material incentives—sufficiently favorable as to induce Taliban cooperation, this would mean that an already unpopular, distrusted government would openly reward the very group that ruled tyrannically over the Afghani people before the American invasion, the group that has been at war with its own country since 2001. This policy would doubtless run into serious backlash. Afghanis remain fundamentally bitter towards the United States; Americans were largely welcomed in 2001 as a hopeful improvement over the Taliban, but the gains for average Afghanis thus far have been small. If the American-backed Afghan government offers material incentives to the Taliban—that is, provides for the Taliban in a way that society as a whole has not been provided for—resentment towards the occupiers and the government will understandably deepen, especially amongst the ethnic Tajiks and Hazaras who have fought against the ethnically Pashtun Taliban. This is resentment, which a tenuous, disastrously corrupt government can ill


Alex Simon ‘12 afford. Indeed, by losing the support of the population, this would be to break counterinsurgency rule number one. The even greater worry is that reconciliation would risk inviting a return to Taliban rule. The weak, unpopular Afghan government will only become exponentially more unstable when the United States and NATO inevitably reduce their presence. If reconciliation brings an intact Taliban back into the societal fabric—and, indeed, into the political process—there is a real danger that the progress made over the last eight years will be subverted by a gradual reentry of Taliban influence. Even if the Taliban agree to cut a deal and put down the guns, it cannot be expected to

“Certainly no progress will be made as long as Afghanis keep seeing greener pastures in the Taliban camp, because the Taliban will continue to think it can win, and it may be right.” rethink or renounce the militant, retrograde, and repressive ideology which lies at the very heart of their movement. Any leader who renounces that ideology in favor of a bribe or the democratic process would not just risk his leadership status, he would also risk his head. This has sinister implications for the Afghan state should the Taliban gain any real foothold in the government. If, in five years, for instance, education is once again forbidden for women above age eight, the US will have failed. Moreover, the Taliban can scarcely be expected to faithfully renounce its alliance with al-Qaeda, because that alliance has long been a fundamental power source and would, in the event of reintegration,

American Foreign Policy

provide fervid support for the resurgence of Taliban dominance. Should this resurgence occur and al-Qaeda begin to regain its position in Afghanistan, the US will be markedly less secure. That said, this speculation is presently moot, because any real concessions from the Taliban leadership simply aren’t credible until the American and Afghan forces have gained more ground. The Afghan government is weak and corrupt, and the Afghan security apparatus is inept. American involvement has an expiration date, and Mr. Karzai himself has voiced skepticism about the government’s survival given the drawdown plans. Two dozen Afghan police officers recently disappeared, taking their trucks, guns, and heavy weaponry with them; it’s suspected they defected to the Taliban, following in the footsteps of hundreds of its colleagues. Certainly no progress will be made as long as Afghanis keep seeing greener pastures in the Taliban camp, because the Taliban will continue to think it can win, and it may be right. Therefore, the coalition’s strategy in Afghanistan centers on gaining the upper hand to loosen the Taliban’s grip on the country while gaining popular support to make sure the grip stays loosened. This begins with operations like the present offensive in the Taliban stronghold of Marja. General Petraeus’ recent proposition that the current work in Marja is but the “initial salvo” in a campaign that may take 12 to 18 months underlines what will be an indispensable American asset in the coming years: patience. Americans need to recognize the potential for drawn out commitment in cases like Marja, where we simply cannot leave until a durable government is in place. We need to be prepared to exercise the utmost patience and to defer to military judgment as we approach the drawdown date in 2011. The risks of withdrawing prematurely will be monumentally greater than the risks of remaining to bolster stability. Allied forces need to ramp up the sacrifices in another sphere as well; they need to be willing to contribute money, and a lot of it. The ability to provide for the Afghani people will be pivotal. Legitimate leadership in Afghanistan has always—dating back centuries to times when tribes ruled themselves, autonomous of any formal state—rested on the ability to accumulate and redistribute wealth to subjects. In order for Mr. Karzai’s government to gain support, allies need to be ready to finance poverty alleviation programs, rural development, and investment in irrigation canals and roads in order to help craft the image of a government that is a meaningful improvement on its predecessors. The US should also be directing money as aggressively as possible towards the bottom-up subversion of the

Taliban, both by offering monetary incentives to the rank and file members—those driven by desperation, not by ideology—and by orchestrating more operations like the recent outreach to the Shinwari tribe, whereby the tribe received aid in exchange for committing to take an aggressive stand against the Taliban and all who harbored its fighters. In a time of severe recession, providing substantial aid is naturally a gut-wrenching prospect. Yet the future of Afghanistan needs to be viewed as an investment, one into which hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives have already been poured, and one whose collapse could be a considerable setback in the global war against terrorism. The US needs to tread very carefully in neighboring Pakistan, which will ultimately be pivotal in maintaining stability after American withdrawal. Pakistan has recently shown what appears to be an increased willingness to strike aggressively at the Afghan Taliban on its own soil, capturing several senior Taliban leaders, including Mullah Baradar and Mullah Kabir. Perhaps these recent arrests underscore a new Pakistani resolve to abandon the strategy of controlling Afghanistan through support for the Taliban. Yet Islamabad is simultaneously pushing to take a leading role in reconciliation attempts, and it

Middle East

could be that the increased cooperation is intended to earn, in American eyes, a seat at the head of the negotiations table. The US must remain acutely cognizant of the fact that Islamabad’s overwhelming priority is to maintain influence in Afghanistan, and that if the Taliban remain strong, it may choose to favor the terrorist group regardless of its current antagonistic posture. The US should thus aggressively encourage, with aid and equipment, further efforts like those which captured Baradar and Kabir. We should denounce reconciliation at the current status quo, and promise Pakistan a central position in reconciliation that may occur in the future with a drastically weakened Taliban. We should offer the Karzai government incentives to forge a close, cooperative relationship with the Pakistani government, and we should be highly explicit in warning Islamabad that any identifiable complicity in a future Taliban resurgence will be met with severe diplomatic repercussions, including the full withdrawal of American aid. With these tactics in place, the time may come when the government can claim the upper hand in settling with the enemy. Even then, Afghanistan will remain desperately poor and widespread satisfaction with the government will be difficult to obtain. Reconciliation in this environment will first and foremost demand a

purging of figures like Mullah Omar. These charismatic, ideologically-driven leaders, remarkably adept at transforming popular disillusionment into violence, must be permanently isolated from the Afghan populace. A tenable reconciliation plan might therefore include a hierarchy of reintegration, whereby the foot soldiers are fully embraced into society, the mid-level leadership are reintegrated but permanently barred from holding political office, and the top tier leadership like Omar are granted amnesty but rejected from the fabric of Afghan society, and perhaps even forbidden on Afghan soil. These sorts of restrictions will be fundamental in preserving the order as the dust over Afghanistan settles, but they will obviously be rejected outright until the day when the Taliban can no longer see victory on the horizon. The Afghan government must reach the point where it can negotiate with a Taliban that is very much defeated and that will remain so—lest popular unrest, Pakistani (or al-Qaeda) support, or some combination thereof subvert the progress that has been so costly in blood and treasure. Afp

Alex may be reached at

U.S. paratroopers operating in Paktika province, Afghanistan, October 2009. Photo from the U.S. Army

March 2010


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