Term Paper: Counter Insurgency Theory in Afghanistan

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Counter Insurgency Theory -- Afghanistan

Before a country can launch a counterinsurgency against an enemy -- as the United States is presently doing in Afghanistan against the Taliban -- there needs to be an accurate assessment of the insurgency followed by a strategic plan put in place. Is there a solid counterinsurgency plan in place and is it functioning as successfully as it could in Afghanistan? What is the strategy employed by the insurgents in Afghanistan? These issues and others germane to the subject will be reviewed in this paper.

The Insurgency in Afghanistan

Seth G. Jones writes that months after the terror attacks on New York and Washington, using massive force, the United States and Afghan allies overthrew the Taliban in 2001. But in 2002, the Taliban began to regroup and by 2006, the situation "had developed into a full-blown insurgency" (Jones, 2008, p. 7). In that window of time between 2002 and 2006, the number of attacks launched by insurgents rose by 400%, Jones explains, and the death toll rose by 800%.

Given those realities, Jones explains that this particular kind of insurgency was different than most insurgencies. One or more ethnic groups attempting to address their grievances against the ruling institution -- that's one typical insurgency motif. In the instance of the Taliban, this theory is not applicable, Jones explains. The Taliban did not launch this insurgency based on ethnic considerations, and the Afghan people did not throw support behind the Taliban based on any ethic relationships or ties (Jones, p. 12).

Another explanation for an insurgency is that insurgents "are motivated by greed," Jones goes on (p. 13). But this does not fit the situation in Afghanistan either, since, in the first place, the greed-motivated insurgencies typically are defined by the a desire to exploit natural resources, like oil and other valuable commodities. In the second place, Afghanistan is a pitifully poor country, with limited natural resources, few educational opportunities, and drought-plagued agricultural resources that rely on the cultivation of poppies (for the production of opium). As Jones explains, neither greed nor grievance can account for the Taliban insurgency; rather, the Taliban is motivated by ideology (radical Islamic beliefs) and by the weakness of the Afghanistan government, making it an appealing target for a power grab (Jones, p. 16).

The weakness in the Afghanistan government that makes it ripe for the picking by the Taliban is "characterized by at least two governance problems," Jones explains (p. 16). The first one is the lack of essential public services that the government is able to offer the citizens. Schools, courts, and other institutions are "barely" functioning; moreover, there is rampant corruption, which "hampers growth, disproportionately burdens the poor, undermines the rule of law" and destroys any sense of legitimacy in the effectiveness of the government.

The second governance failing relates to the incompetence and corruption of the police and the army. Without internal security, the country becomes wide open to the possibility of infiltration by the enemy; further, the Taliban is skilled at killing policemen, and once the Taliban roots out any government authority figures in a given village, they then become the government, Jones asserts on page 17. The Taliban then provides security for the citizens of that town or village, they "collect taxes, set up administrative structures" and they engage in what Jones calls "state building" (p. 18).

Once they have fully seized control over a region or town -- through "state building" -- the Taliban insurgents then put their extreme, repressive version of "sharia law," writes Jones on page 19. This law includes: a ban on music; a ban on women attending school or taking jobs; and a prohibition of freedom of the press.

The Three "Pillars" of Counterinsurgency

Meantime, given that the United States (using enormous military force) pushed the Taliban out of Afghanistan in 2001 only to see the insurgents begin filter back into the country in 2002 -- and now face a… [END OF PREVIEW]

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