Get Rethink Afghanistan Updates
Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter Get E-Mail Updates
You can help

I Hope My Neighborhood Watch Doesn’t Use Kalashnikovs…

Posted by Derrick Crowe on November 16th, 2009

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit

"Think anyone will notice that the Afghan government are the actual criminals around here?"

If you only read the first paragraph of this Jim Michaels’ USA TODAY story, you might walk away with a nice feeling about civic life in Afghanistan:

KABUL — U.S. and Afghan officials have agreed on a new nationwide strategy that will funnel millions of dollars in foreign aid to villages that organize “neighborhood watch”-like programs to help with security.
Oh hey, a Neighborhood Watch program! That sounds like a great idea, right? Get those local citizens out in the streets, have ‘em keep an eye out for criminality and report it to local law enforcement, do community service projects, that sort of thing. Good idea, U.S. and Afghan officials!

The plan will provide an incentive for Afghan tribal leaders to form their own militias and guard against Taliban insurgents, says Mohammad Arif Noorzai, an adviser to President Hamid Karzai on security and tribal issues.

Wait, what? That doesn’t sound like calling in graffiti artists or phoning in a tip about a shady-looking person at the convenient store. Let’s ask Nathan Hodge for more details:

In Afghanistan’s Wardak Province, the U.S. military has overseen a modest experiment in giving Kalashnikovs, cash, and power to local militias to keep insurgents out of rural communities.

Now the Afghan government and the U.S. military are set to try the experiment on a much larger scale. Reporting from Kabul, Jim Michaels of USA Today describes the Community Defense Initiative, a program to create “neighborhood watch”-style militias in more villages throughout Afghanistan.

What the hell is the matter with you people?! Who looks at Afghanistan and says, “I know what this place needs! More Kalashnikovs!”

Just your standard Neighborhood Watch membership incentive…

And what is wrong with Jim Michaels?! Why would you think that a program to arm roving bands of local heavies with automatic rifles should be described as a “neighborhood watch”-like program? Only about halfway through the article do we find out that he borrows this little euphemism for a cash-and-bullets payoff scheme came from a NATO characterization. Jim! Do you get paid to do stenography for NATO? I thought you were a journalist. I only ask because it took me about 2 minutes to confirm my suspicion that the actual Neighborhood Watch program does not in fact hand out Kalashnikov rifles and bullets to local Joe Blows.

El Guapo
El Guapo: Not the best strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan…

The last thing Afghanistan needs is another shipment of weapons into the unstable areas. We already know that lots of our weapons end up in the hands of anti-government forces, who then use them to kill Americans and other Afghans. We would be much, much better off (to say nothing of the Afghans) enabling the local people to undertake civilian-based defense. But first things first: let’s get it through our heads that accepting benign euphemisms for violent, short-sighted policies only serves to obscure reality and cloud the policy choices before the United States.

Share this:
Peacemakers take action to lead the charge to end the war. Join forces with the over 100,000 people who make a difference.


Subscribe via RSS
Become a Peacemaker

Bronze Telly Award
For general questions, email us here.
For technical issues regarding this site, contact us here.


For Press inquiries, please contact Kim at:

Director: Robert Greenwald - Executive Director: Jim Miller - Producer: Jason Zaro - Associate Producer: Dallas Dunn, Jonathan Kim, and Kim Huynh - Researcher: Greg Wishnev - Editor: Phillip Cruess - Political Director: Leighton Woodhouse - VP Marketing & Distribution: Laura Beatty - Production Assistant: Monique Hairston

Anyone is allowed to post content on this site, but Brave New Foundation 501(c)(3) is not responsible for that content. We will, however, remove anything unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, racist, or that contains other material that would violate the law. By posting you agree to this.

Brave New Foundation | 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232