Afghanistan’s problems are well known: rampant insecurity, endemic corruption, deep-seated poverty and weak governance. Unfortunately most of the strategies advanced to address these issues have lacked clear, effective and culturally-adapted implementation frameworks, making them more like wish lists than concrete roadmaps. Based on wide experience and engagement in Afghanistan’s state-building project since 2001 – in the United Nations, Afghan government, and civil society – the author provides a broad outline for a new strategy to stabilize Afghanistan. At the core of this new strategy is a focus on priority areas, or centres of gravity, and an emphasis on local-level participation in program design and implementation. While the window of opportunity to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan is closing, there are straight forward steps that can be taken to turn the tide of Afghanistan’s current crisis. This new approach will not require massive new infusions of resources, but rather robust political will and resolve among both Afghans and international actors, something that is increasingly in short supply.
The Afghanistan Papers are essays authored by prominent academics, policy makers, practitioners and informed observers that seek to challenge existing ideas, contribute to ongoing debates and influence international policy on issues related to Afghanistan’s transition. A forward-looking series, the papers combine analysis of current problems and challenges with explorations of future issues and threats.