Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fresh New Nation Building in Afghanistan

Canadian Forces have a new strategy. It's described with corporate buzz words and bureaucratese. Forces plan to defeat Taliban town by town
The innovative approach is to start in the town of Deh-EBagh in Dand District, where the Taliban recently launched a major attack. Afghan-led, the strategy is to involve targeted Canadian aid, technical assistance, and mentoring within a security bubble established by Afghan and Canadian forces.

Mentoring. That's one buzz word I can't stand. Corporations no longer do a review or assessment to see whether you deserve a bonus for the year, but they now "mentor" you. It's meant to put a positive spin on the situation but ends up coming across as condescending.

But seriously, we're in a war here. I don't think General Patton ever talked about "mentoring" the Germans.

"We want this to be absolutely tangible to the 800 or 1,000 people in that community," said Brigadier-General Jon Vance, who commands Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

"We develop the district in governance and R & D [reconstruction and development], and re-establish the social, political and economic fabric of a town in a district, and then another town, and another and another."

Listen to the general. He sounds like the Premier of PEI talking about repairing bridges.
The project, which will, over time, be expanded to include many more communities across Kandahar province, is designed to show Afghans what they can do in a secure environment, and to push out the insurgents who threaten the communities and use them as a base of operations.

This is sounding very long term. Have they forgotten that we are ending our commitment over there in 2011?

Does nation building work as a strategy? The situation has gotten worse, despite all the money and effort. It depresses me that we just keep trying harder. The article mentions that the Canadian initiative bears resemblance to the "Hearts and Minds" campaign by the Americans in Vietnam. And that one worked out well for them.

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