Sunday, April 8, 2012

Putting Lipstick on that Donkey

Australian officials have rejected a report commissioned by the government agency AusAID that is critical of the security assessment in Afghanistan, insisting it be rewritten to match upbeat claims of dramatic progress. The report, by independent consultants for the aid and development agency, stated that the Taliban, while weakened in Oruzgan province - where Australian troops operate - were far from defeated. The assessment, born out by a resurgence of violence in the past two months, is at odds with the government's optimistic assertions about conditions in the province.

As we have previously espoused, what confronts the international community and NATO forces (including the Australians) in Afghanistan is largely a locally (ie: district and provincially) motivated insurgency. Whilst Anti Government Elements (AGE) are often involved, the centre of gravity of the insurgency remains in its locally generated, popular support base. The genesis is quite simple: Xenophobia and Nepotism.
Hence any 'snapshot in time' of military progress in any one particular province or area, whilst always possible, will unlikely be reflective of gains nor development nor outlook. END COMMENT.

While AusAID denied trying to dictate the content of the report, a spokeswoman said the agency had sought corrections to ''factual inaccuracies'' and ''clarifications between fact, perception and analysis''. She confirmed AusAID ''suggested'' the consultants cut a chapter on Afghan views on Australian and US troops in Oruzgan, as this ''did not fit within the terms of reference''.

The irony is that the one chapter that was cut in the Assessment was the one that was based on local opinion. Afghan views are entirely relevant- some would argue solely relevant. 'Acceptance' and 'tolerance' are key behaviors that are highly desirable (if not essential) in winning the counter insurgency battle. This is all about 'tongue instead of gun'. END COMMENT.

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