Not the first time I am drawing attention to Nushin Arbabzadah's writing here. Here is her latest piece, in the Guardian's Comment is free. Her message is very similar to the one I attempted to convey in this post nost so long ago, after Karzai's inauguration. An appetiser:
"Judging again this complex reality, the current international obsession with Afghan corruption is nothing but a political game. A focus on corruption has served to set the Obama administration apart from the Bush government, which is now being denounced for leniency towards Karzai and his family."
The one thing I would take issue with is that she doesn't really consider police corruption here. That goes beyond taking just a little bribe here and there. Robbing or abusing people is more than that. And from a counterinsurgency point of view that is going to be mighty important to tackle somehow. Its importance cannot be overstated. But that is conceptually different from tackling the systemic, complex, multi-level police corruption related to illicit trade (of narcotics, for example). The problem is, while conceptually there is a difference between these two kinds of corruption, in fact they are very much related in practice, even if they are not in perfect overlap with each other. So judging where one could find the right "intervention point" is not easy. Doing counterinsurgency remains one the best possible indirect intervention points for now. Whether 18+n months of that will be enough? In and of itself certainly not. That is why I will need to come back to this issue.