Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Karzai and the PRT's

Is that a good name for a band?  Well, President Karzai has basically said that the provincial reconstruction teams should be eliminated as they represent a parallel structure to the government.  And Canada gets concerned?  What?!  How could he?  The Canadian response is really pretty amusing, given that it is not only pulling its troops out of Kandahar in just a few months (July), but the civilians will be pulled out as well.  There has been some pulling and tugging, with folks (including Americans) hoping the CA civvies would stick around, but the Harper government is not interested.  Plus the paperwork/controversy of having Canadian civilians riding around, protected by Americans, seems to be too much.  Holy liability, Batman!

Anyhow, Karzai actually has a point here.  While all of the national contingents have less NATO control than one might suspect (see the Dave and Steve project), PRTs have always been nationally controlled with no pretense of NATO control and only the barest coordination with ISAF or the government of Afghanistan.  Of course, the Canadian example should raise an obvious question: why should Karzai complain about PRTs since most will be gone by the magical transition year of 2014?  Yes, transition does not mean withdrawal in Petraeus's eyes, but in the eyes of most folks in most national capitals, that is exactly what transition means.  So, the PRTs have a limited lifespan. 

Still, having outsiders out there distributing resources, planning development and construction, and perhaps even empowering local actors might not be all that wonderful in Karzai's eyes.  Given that his rule depends on patronage more so than the average corrupt, failing state (or as much as the average corrupt, failing state), other folks providing $$ are a threat.  After all, Karzai is much more focused on his rule than on what is best for his country. 

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