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Afghanistan’s COIN and Coin Disconnect
Posted by on March 10th, 2011

From our partners at

By Steve Hynd

As Derrick Crowe reminded us yesterday, the U.S. military's own COIN manual says:

"I-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government."

But today, Colin Cookman reports that the Afghan government is about to hit a major fiscal wall:

The IMF refuses to approve an extension of its economic support program and credit lines for the Afghan government until the Kabul Bank issue is resolved, and its support program is a key condition for other international donors.

The European Union, whose institutions are collectively the second-largest donor to Afghanistan after the United States, warned last month that its commitments will be subject to review if the IMF agreement is not restored. And the United Kingdom, which is the largest single contributor to the Afghan Reconstruction Trust Fund, or ARTF, announced on March 9 that it would indefinitely delay the disbursal of over $137 million in payments pending a resolution of the dispute. The ARTF, a World Bank-managed pool for donors, is the largest direct contributor to the government’s operating and development budgets. Without its continued support the basic functions of the Afghan government are at serious risk.

The Afghan government is heavily reliant on international financial assistance for its limited operations. Domestic revenue financed only 32 percent of its 2009-2010 budget. But the government is also weakened by the fact that the bulk of money flowing into the country bypasses the government entirely in favor of donor-selected personalities, programs, and priorities. The government managed a mere 23 percent of total aid Afghanistan received from 2002 to 2009.

How can you have "effective governance by a legitimate government" if there's no way to pay the bills? No matter how military tactics may be going, an overall political strategy that addresses that question is utterly absent. The Afghanistan misadventure should be declared over.

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