The Afghanistan Papers

About the series

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.

In the Series

Many doubt whether the Afghan state that was established in 2001 during the Bonn Agreement will survive the withdrawal of Western troops after 2014. This paper addresses the impact of the withdrawal of Western combat forces and influence from Afghanistan, examines the consequences from an economic viewpoint and cautions the change this withdrawal will have on a country caught in a balancing act between the traditional social modes and Western influence it has come to know for the last 10 years.
Over the last nine years, international approaches to the Afghan security sector have exhibited elements of security sector reform, counterinsurgency and stabilization. This paper, the ninth in the Afghanistan Papers series, argues that the practice of attempting all three approaches simultaneously has lead to confusion, and that, ultimately, the international intervention’s lack of strategic direction and focus has been detrimental to Afghanistan and its international partners.
The international mission to reconstruct Afghanistan may be the most ambitious state-building exercise ever undertaken. Among the least developed on Earth, the country has been the focus of tremendous international political will, copious development assistance and, at least since 2009, overwhelming military power. This paper proposes the establishment of a triple compact, involving the international community and the government of Afghanistan, the government and the people of Afghanistan, and the international community and the Afghan people.
Although the Taliban remain a largely Pashtun movement in terms of their composition, they have started making significant inroads among other ethnic groups. In the fifth edition of CIGI's "Afghanistan Papers," author Antonio Giustozzi says that emerging relationships between Taliban and non-Pashtun groups could "turn northern and western Afghanistan into a mess."
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. 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.
In January, donors renewed commitments to Afghanistan and presented new strategies to combat the Taliban, improve governance and limit corruption. But progress will depend on Afghan leadership. This paper proposes seven policy initiatives to refocus the country's domestic reform agenda, overcome post-electoral distrust, and lay the groundwork for a rejuvenated partnership between the Afghan government and the international community.
The policies of the United States and its international partners in Afghanistan during the past eight years have proven wrong-headed and ineffective in delivering the promised peace, stability and democratic governance. This paper critically examines the underlying assumptions behind these failing policies and explores alternative approaches to rescue Afghanistan’s war-to-peace transition.