09 March 2009

Corruption kills in Counter-Insurgency

Sobering lesson of the day:

As we've examined earlier, Mexico is having a difficult time dealing with the insurgency of cartels, namely due to the fact that the local population's loyalty actually favors cartels in many instances.  This is largely due to the fact that while the local police forces are notoriously corrupt, popular culture actually portrays the cartel members as having some sort of a code of conduct.  

In The Accidental Guerilla, David Kilcullen notes that a similar dynamic in Afghanistan.  With the Afghan government reaching incredible levels of corruption (Afghanistan was ranked 172nd in the world in a recent corruption survey), the Taliban receives similar notoriety for incorruptability, according to Kilcullen.  With corruption rampant among the judiciary system, the Taliban are actually invited in as honest brokers in mediating disputes among local tribesmen*.  In fact, in mid-2008, no fewer than 13 seperate Taliban guerilla courts operated in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.    When asked whom villiagers would trust to settle a dispute, the answer is almost universally, "the Taliban", even despite their reputation for cruelty.  

*-In Afghan tribal culture, it is traditional to seek outsiders to mediate disputes.  

1 comment:

El Goyito said...

The similarities between Mexico and Afghanistan are fascinating to me and, I believe, have merit in exploring - esp in regards to anti-narco COIN operations. This is something we'll see more and more in Afghanistan - something made much more complicated by the CIA's involvement in Afghanistan's drug production (not to mention the Taliban's involvement as well!).

The "moral high ground," so to speak, is of supreme importance - not just in COIN but in any military operation. And no one takes and keeps this "moral high ground" better than the organized religions. Secularized Westerners CONSISTENTLY fail to understand the traction that religion still plays in much of the world. This is exactly why the Afganis prefer the Taliban to the Westerners - at least the Taliban are Muslims. I read an article the other day about resentment among Afghanis when U.S. forces search their homes - they prefer "Afghani (read: Muslim) hands" rifling through their stuff rather than "secular" foreign hands - even though the Afghani police take their valuables and the foreigners don't!

Religion goes much deeper than many of our policy planners and military thinkers are willing to admit. And this is the only real practical answer to the rampant corruption.