Monday, March 07, 2011

Paul Moyar: To Win Afghan War, Cut USAID Funding

After 10 years of fighting, someone finally publishes the obvious: USAID money has paid for the Taliban to fight the US Army. So says Dr. Paul Moyar, in a summary of his study, Development in Afghanistan's Counterinsurgency: A New Guide, posted on the Small Wars Journal Blog:
In the areas of Afghanistan beset by insurgency, development spending has done little to increase popular support for the government, casting doubt on the counterinsurgency and development theories that have inspired this spending. Practitioners, however, have lacked access to viable alternative theories or principles on the use of development in COIN. This guide offers a comprehensive alternative approach, derived from the leader-centric model of counterinsurgency and based upon a wide variety of counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and previous conflicts. According to this approach, the primary purpose of development aid in counterinsurgency should be to improve local security and governance, because development is less important than security and governance and is effective only where security and governance are present. Development aid should be used to co-opt local elites, not to obtain the gratitude of the entire population, and should be made contingent on reciprocal action by those elites. The elites must be selected carefully, as the selection of certain elites will empower malign actors or alienate other elites. The number of organizations involved in development activities should be kept as small as possible, and greater attention should be paid to the selection of leaders for those organizations, as leadership quality has a great impact on project effectiveness. In select districts and provinces, governors should be permitted to use development aid to bolster patronage networks. The current aid streams flowing into Afghanistan far exceed the capacity of leaders and development personnel to handle them, so aid levels should be reduced, and emphasis on quantity of aid spent should be replaced with emphasis on attainment of COIN objectives. In Afghanistan, senior leaders of USAID and other foreign development organizations still prefer long-term development to short-term stabilization, to the detriment of the counterinsurgency. If they cannot be convinced to change their ways, then their participation in Afghanistan may need to be downsized.
You may download the full report as a PDF file, here.