Afghanistan: From Good Intentions to Sustainable Solutions

Tasneem Jamal

Briefing 06-5

Ernie Regehr

If good intentions and serious effort were what it takes, Afghanistan would be a peaceful democracy today, but a half-decade of security, democratization, and reconstruction effort have only left a frayed and fading vision of sustainable peace. When citizens of Kabul rioted in the streets in June 2006, it was not from anger at an out-of-control American military truck that had smashed into a row of cars and killed several people. They were also giving voice to their own dashed hopes. Elections, humanitarian programs, the prominent presence of foreign troops, and a growing toll in military and civilian lives have not produced the political inclusion, jobs, housing, services, or security Afghans were expecting.

There is no virtue in abandoning good intentions; neither is there virtue in persisting in efforts that are demonstrably failing. As former Foreign Minister Axworthy put it the Afghan mission was to be a careful mix of diplomacy, development, and defence – portrayed as a 3-D approach – but “now it has become one big ‘D’” (Schiller 2006).

A thorough re-evaluation of Canada’s role and objectives in Afghanistan is long overdue.

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