SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ROUNDTABLE
PARTICIPANTS: ASHRAF GHANI, CHANCELLOR, KABUL UNIVERSITY, FORMER AFGHANISTAN FINANCE MINISTER; JAMES DOBBINS, SENIOR RESEARCHER, RAND CORPORATION, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE AFGHAN RESISTANCE; SARAH CHAYES, AUTHOR AND FORMER NPR CORRESPONDENT, FOUNDER OF A DEVELOPMENT COOPERATIVE IN KANDAHAR; COLONEL DAVID KILCULLEN (RET.), FORMER AUSTRALIAN SPECIAL FORCES COMMANDO, ANTHROPOLOGIST AND COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER TO FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE
CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA)
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SEN. KERRY: (Sounds gavel.) Well, this first roundtable of the round-rectangular table of the Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.
Let me explain to everybody, as I welcome our panelists, what we're doing here and why and what we hope to achieve. We're trying something different for this committee, but not something different from what I've done when I was chairman of the Small Business Committee and we found that this was an exceedingly effective way to both create a record as well as to probe issues with greater ability to have some flexibility in the give and take, and to try to have more of a dialogue, if you will, which sheds light on issues rather than sometimes the formality of 'x' number of minutes in a very formal way where you don't get the follow-up that sometimes answers the secondary and tertiary questions.
So it's my hope -- in a sense, this is not going to be unlike, I hope, a session at the Pentagon or the State Department or the White House, where you might really just be looking for some answers. And I think it is appropriate, in the Washington that we hope to offer people, to do this in a way that is transparent and accountable and where hopefully many of the questions that other people have will also be asked in this process.
This will not preclude -- obviously we will have the other hearings at the same time. But I think my colleagues will find this is an effective way for them to take part, get some questions, probe in the ways that they hope to, and be able to move on to their own business, which is the nature of the United States Senate.
I know that a number of colleagues will be here. Senator Shaheen is here, and some others will be stopping through as we go forward.
We want these conversations to contribute to a wider debate -- and it is already taking place. We also want it to be on-the-record, open to the public and transcribed for future reference. And it will be. It is an official Senate proceeding, and there will be a transcript which people can refer to for both policy and scholarly and journalistic purposes.
Afghanistan is also well-suited for this format, I believe, because people inside and outside of government are wrestling with immensely complex challenges. We all recognize that the situation is not what we expected it to be or want it to be. And many assert that it has been deteriorating, for one reason or another, at a rapid rate. So the truth is we have some very fundamental questions to try to resolve, and I think this can help do it.
The questions are pretty obvious. What is the scope of the mission? Exactly how do you define the mission? Has there been mission creep or transformation of that mission beyond what it either ought to be or can be, should be? What can we realistically accomplish on the military and civilian front? What roles will the additional troops play when they are deployed, and what can be the real expectations for those troops?
If, as we all agree, there is no purely military solution, then how do we help the government of Afghanistan, both in Kabul and in the districts, be accountable to the people? What I have found in the recent visits I've made there is that governance is a huge issue on the minds of people who, a year and two ago, were 100 percent with us and supportive but who today, because of the failure of governance, not because of the Taliban necessarily, not because of an alternative ideology, are questioning our presence.
That has to be, obviously, turned around. And so we have to ask, what can we realistically expect from the Karzai government? And frankly, these questions need to be answered as we deploy further American troops and make whatever additional commitment we intend to make.
We have a very diverse group here today, and I think it's an impressive group of guests, who will help us shed light. Ashraf Ghani, thank you for being here, sir. He is the former finance minister of Afghanistan. He is the current chancellor of Kabul University. He was a key architect of the Bonn agreement that established a framework for post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. He's a former World Bank official, a strong advocate for good governance, institution-building and locally targeted development. And so, obviously, we appreciate his expertise here.
Sarah Chayes, sitting on my left, is an author, a recovering journalist -- (laughter) --
MS. CHAYES: Recovered.
SEN. KERRY: -- a recovered journalist, and founder of a development cooperative who has been living for the past seven years outside the wire in Kandahar. So we have here an American, I'm proud to say a native of Massachusetts, who is on the ground, living, speaking the language, is running a cooperative of some 13 --
MS. CHAYES: Men and women.
SEN. KERRY: -- men and women in Kandahar and has great input and learning as a consequence of her presence there. Retired Lieutenant Colonel David Kilcullen, a former Australian Special Forces commando, anthropologist, adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and General David Petraeus; he's one of our leading experts on counterinsurgency.
I have spoken frequently in the last years about how we are involved not as much in a war on terror as in a global counterinsurgency effort, and Colonel Kilcullen is perhaps one of the leading thinkers who has helped develop that line of thinking, and he has recently joined the Center for New American Security, and we welcome him here.
And Ambassador James Dobbins, former special envoy to the Afghan resistance, is an expert on the art of nation-building in conflict zones, and he's now a senior researcher at the RAND Corporation.
So here's the deal, folks. I'm going to sort of play quasi- moderator a little bit. I want my colleagues to know that they can weigh in any time. There's no order here. We want to try and keep everybody engaged and really have a conversation. And so let's see, you know, if we can prove that this is a good way to get at some of these issues.
And with that, I would ask each of you just to sort of make an opening gambit, if you will, not necessarily -- and certainly not a long formal statement, but, you know, a few minutes of just your perspectives today, and then we'll get engaged in the conversation.
So why don't -- let's begin, sir, with you, if we would, Mr. Ghani.
MR. GHANI: Good morning.
SEN. KERRY: You have to push the button and it'll come on. Thanks.
MR. GHANI: Okay. This one?
SEN. KERRY: If the light goes on --
SEN. : There it is. It's on.
MR. GHANI: Good morning. It's a pleasure to be with you.
First, to very strongly --
SEN. KERRY: Pull the mike down a little bit. Just pull it down. There you go.
MR. GHANI: First, to very strongly underline the importance of governance. The challenge in Afghanistan is not the strength of the insurgency but the weakness of governance. Weak governance has two components. One is weakness of governance on the Afghan part, the second is weakness of governance on the international part.
The first one is manifested by corruption and lack of a coherent approach to make the people own the process. The second one is characterized by lack of unity of effort, by bringing a degree of complexity that is a self-inflicted wound regarding coordination, by absence of a strategic approach, by confusion between strategy, tactics and operations.
The net result of this combined failure, the double failure of governance, is the loss of trust of the population. That's one side of the equation. But the second side of the equation is that the images of Afghanistan as being inherently violent and oriented towards violence are wrong.
The current situation is a product of the 1980s and 1990s. It has very little to do with the long history of Afghanistan, which has been one of peace and collaboration. The current set of players were produced through the combined action of the former Soviet Union, the United States and the Arab world which supported then an insurgency, and without a thought to what would be the stage after the completion of the insurgency.
So I think one needs -- in terms of the images that are being pervaded, that Afghanistan cannot be fixed because the people do not want order, that, I think, is a false image. The major asset on the ground are the people. And I would like to underline that the people of Afghanistan in 2001 rated both the international forces and the coalition as true liberators. The popularity of the United States was in the 90s. So it is not that there was an opposition from the ground up. Whatever situation has come about has been a result of unintended policies. It's the unintended consequence of policies in decisions that were taken or not taken.
Because of that, if we look forward, then the issue becomes what is the opportunity? And now there's a double opportunity again. The new U.S. administration is providing Afghanistan with a second chance for the Afghan people to be able to agree on a road forward that would be based on taking ownership of the problems and solutions of the country and for the international community to change from doers to catalysts.
The key action that is emerging -- it is needed -- regarding the use of force and the use of resources is how to turn U.S. and international intervention into catalysts of building institutions of good governance in Afghanistan. In this area, there's significant agreement in the security area. The cost of one U.S. soldier is equivalent to training of 70 Afghan security personnel. So in terms of cost/benefit analysis alone, that equation has become very clear as to where the emphasis should lie. But the same approach needs to be extended to the non-security sector. Military expenditure in Afghanistan is now 20 billion (dollars) a month.
SEN. KERRY: Say that again?
MR. GHANI: Military expenditure currently by NATO, by international forces, is 20 billion (dollars) a month. The entire assistance in the civilian economic side that actually would've been spent on the ground is less than that. COIN which you again very rightly highlighted as the critical approach is emphasized on turning one's back to the insurgents and focusing very directly on the needs and aspirations of the people. If 80 percent of COIN is economic, social and political, then the balance in terms of allocation of resources is highly skewed. And I think the key opportunity lies now in arriving at an approach to governance that would make these other components work.
And my last observation is that there are lots of assets on the ground in Afghanistan. The young generation constitutes the majority of the population. One-third of the country is urban. There are lots of areas of the country where governance is made difficult not because of security conditions but because of a lack of a coherent approach.
So concluding message. It is difficult, but it's by no means impossible to turn around, and it can be a major bridge. If Afghanistan is turned around into a stable country with a legitimate government and international partnership that enjoys legitimacy, it could become a significant bridge between the Muslim world and the West.
SEN. KERRY: Sarah Chayes.
MS. CHAYES: Thank you very much. (Off mike.) Is this on? Yeah.
I would like to, again, from the perspective of the people on the ground, inject, first of all, a note of urgency. This is definitely going to be an issue that we're going to need to stay involved with for a long time, but that doesn't mean that we can spend a lot of time -- that doesn't mean that we have the luxury of time before we begin to inject a new approach.
The situation is so bad on the ground in Kandahar that the women in my cooperative are now beginning to say that they would prefer to live under the Taliban because it is so excruciating to live under the kinds of difficulties in governance that Mr. Ghani is talking about. And so I do think --
SEN. KERRY: Can you describe some of those -- I mean, when you talk about those difficulties?
MS. CHAYES: Yeah. Well, it means that you're basically shaken down every single time that you come into contact with any government official, be that a police officer on the street, for example. One of the reasons that the Taliban actually came to power in 1994, the main reason, was because the warlords, the local commanders, had all these checkpoints on the road, and so you couldn't actually drive across town without being shaken down, raped or murdered, or shot in the foot when you refused to give, you know, money to the person shaking you down. So --
SEN. KERRY: Is that your perception too?
MR. GHANI: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: Your perception.
MS. CHAYES: That was the case in 1993 --
SEN. KERRY: So everybody agrees that is happening.
MS. CHAYES: -- 1994. Well, no, I'm saying that was 1993-1994. And so the Taliban were accepted for practical reasons, not because the population of southern Afghanistan was ideologically adherent to the Taliban's program but because it was the only option that resembled a government.
So now we're in a situation where it's actually the Afghan government that is doing the same type of thing. If you want to bring any product -- a friend of mine just brought auto parts from the border, the Pakistani border, to Kandahar. This is about an hour-and- a-half trip. He had to pay at least 20 times at police check posts. He had to pay a day's wage. And when he arrived at the gates of Kandahar, he was asked for five days' wage. And he said no, and he was struck by the police officer.
Now, this is a culture of pride and dignity. So the government is not only shaking down its citizens; it's actually humiliating them. And this is -- police often get a bad rap; it's not just the police. It's do you want a driver's license? Do you want a passport? Do you want to import something through Customs?
Every single interaction with the government -- to pay your electricity bill, you have to go to eight different desks in two different buildings and you have to pay bribes in order to have the privilege of paying your electricity bill. Now, for that privilege, you receive approximately four to five hours' electricity every two to three days in Kandahar, seven and a half years after the U.S. intervention.
So what I would like to say is that to say that the feeling of the Afghan population toward their government is one of losing trust or credibility is a little bit of an understatement. I would say we're reaching, at least in the south, a situation of rage. And we -- this is blamed on us, on the international community and the United States in particular, because we really engineered this.
And I know that it is tempting to think that the United States brought democracy to Afghanistan beginning in 2001, but the way the Afghans experience it is that we actually placed certain individuals in positions of power on a provincial level, as well as the national level, and therefore they are expecting and needing us to be a little bit more proactive in redressing this unbalanced situation between the citizens and the government.
SEN. KERRY: Let me stop you there. That's a great introductory point. We're going to come back to the question of sort of how do you do that, et cetera.
MS. CHAYES: Right.
SEN. KERRY: But let me turn next to you, Colonel Kilcullen.
COL. KILCULLEN: Thank you, Senator. Let me just start off by saying --
SEN. KERRY: Pull the mike up close enough so everybody can hear you.
COL. KILCULLEN: I do agree with what Sarah just said, but I'm going to address a slightly different category.
SEN. KERRY: Bend the thing down to you. There you go.
COL. KILCULLEN: How's that? Is that --
SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible).
COL. KILCULLEN: Does everybody understand my charming --
SEN. KERRY: No, no, we love your accent. We love your accent. We expect you to use all those little phrases that we've become so endeared to.
COL. KILCULLEN: (Laughs.) I thought where I can add value is talking a little bit, to start with, about American strategy in Afghanistan and just a little bit about Pakistan, to sort of round out the picture.
You know, we're seven years into a very long war. We need to be honest with ourselves about the harsh strategic choices that we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And if I was writing these remarks I'm about to make as an op-ed, I would probably title it something like "It's Crunch Time in Afghanistan." We're reaching a critical point, and this could be the hinge of the campaign.
There's a strategic duality to what we're trying to do. We're both trying to rebuild and stabilize Afghanistan and we're trying to counter al Qaeda. And this has been, you know, a source of some -- (inaudible) -- in our strategic thinking today.
I think we need to do four things if we're going to succeed in Afghanistan. Firstly, we've got to prevent the re-emergence of an al Qaeda sanctuary that could lead to another 9/11. Secondly, we've got to protect Afghanistan -- that is, the Afghan people -- from a variety of internal threats. And I would count the Taliban on that list, but it's not actually fundamentally about the Taliban. It's about protecting the people. I would call narcotics, misrule, corruption, and the insurgency as a variety of threats that we need to protect against.
The third thing we've got to do is we have to build sustainable state and civil society institutions.
And then the final thing is, once we've done all that, we can begin a phased handoff to Afghan institutions that are now strong enough to be sustainable without a permanent international presence. So you could summarize that as prevent, protect, build, handoff.
And if you call that approach, you know, option A, which is the approach that we've tried to execute to date, I think it is valid. It's a workable approach. But we have to be honest with ourselves about how long it's going to take -- and I think it could take 10 to 15 years -- and how much it's going to cost. An additional 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan will cost about $2 billion extra per month. And obviously if we add in additional governance and development spending, that's even more.
Now, in the current economic climate, that's a big ask. There are also strategic opportunity costs.
SEN. KERRY: Two billion a month?
COL. KILCULLEN: Yeah, extra a month.
SEN. KERRY: Oh, extra. So that's on top of the current NATO $20 billion per month.
COL. KILCULLEN: That's roughly. I mean, it'll depend on precisely where they go and what --
SEN. KERRY: Assuming you make a decision that the current NATO expenditure is being intelligently used and distributed. And we have to examine that, don't we?
COL. KILCULLEN: I think we do, yeah. Now, there's also a strategic opportunity cost, which I know you're on record talking about. You know, we finally, through a lot of blood and effort, reached a point where we can start disengaging troops from Iraq.
We need to ask ourselves whether the best use for those troops is to send them straight to Afghanistan or whether we might be better off creating a strategic reserve in the Central Command area, restoring our strategic freedom of action, and giving ourselves more of a measure of diplomatic credibility. You know, having finally unbogged ourselves from Iraq, do we really want to rebog ourselves in Afghanistan?
Is there an alternative? Well, some people have talked about what you might call option B, which is we forget all that stuff about protect, build and handoff, and we just focus on al Qaeda; we just do the prevent task. You know, there's been some talk about that in the last week or two.
And under that model, what we would do is we'd basically do counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda while doing the absolute minimum of development and population protection that we would need to do to enable those operations. And we would essentially shelve our long-term nation-building aspirations. And you might say, "Well, after all, we actually went into Afghanistan to defeat al Qaeda, not to build a model state in the Hindu Kush."
The problem with option A -- that's the big option -- is that we might not be able to afford it. The problem with option B is it just won't work. You know, Afghanistan is a sovereign state. Why would it tolerate an approach that treated its country as little more than a launch pad for attacks on al Qaeda while doing nothing to alleviate poverty or institute the rule of law or improve health and education? What would be in it for the Afghans? And moreover, why would the Taliban just obligingly put their insurgency on hold so that we could focus on al Qaeda?
I think that if we took option B, the Taliban would be even more likely to overthrow the government than they are now. And I think the other big question, which I'm sure Ashraf will bring up, is how would you finesse the promises that you made to the Afghan people and to the international community in the Bonn agreement if you were to just walk away from all those commitments?
I guess a third option might be sort of option A-lite, where you say, you know, we'll do what we can afford to do and as much of the nation-build as we can manage, but not worry about it too much. I think that's the worst of both worlds. It costs almost as much as option A and it's as little likely to work as option B. You know, so I'd say your choices are escalate and development spend and more troops and the money that's going to be involved, or go the counterterrorism option. But I think really the counterterrorism option just won't work.
Having said that, all those are questions for 2010 and beyond. This year we have a crisis in Afghanistan. We're on the brink of failure. Violence is up 543 percent in the last five years. Narcotics production is up dramatically in that same time. As Sarah just talked about, government legitimacy is collapsing. Food and water are also critically short. There's a food shortage of about 2 million metric tons this year and a water shortage as well.
The insurgency's spreading. It's getting worse. And the Afghan presidential elections, which are now scheduled for August, which, of course, is the peak of the fighting season, are going to bring all of that to a head. So whatever our long-term strategy, if we don't stabilize the country this year, stop the riot -- regain the initiative, there is no long term. It doesn't really matter what our long-term strategy is.
I think once the situation is stabilized, there will be time for the government -- that is, the government of Afghanistan -- and for ourselves to think through the long-term strategy. But what we have to do now is to stabilize a collapsing situation. To do that, I think we need to surge political effort, which is fundamentally a matter of legitimacy in governance.
We need to refocus the military and the police on a single critical task, which is protecting the population in advance of the elections. Our aim should be to deliver an election result that restores the government's legitimacy, and by so doing, recreates the credibility that we need for the international effort. Which candidate gets elected matters a lot less than ensuring that the outcome meets international standards for fairness and transparency and builds Afghan institutions.
Now, that's a huge task. To do that, we would have to stop chasing the Taliban around, which is what we've been doing today, and start basically focusing on protecting Afghans where they live, partnering with the Afghans to develop a well-founded feeling of security in the population, and that includes security against their own government as well as against the insurgency, and ensuring fair elections.
That's all I want to say on Afghanistan to start with. I have some other comments on Pakistan, but I might hold them until --
SEN. KERRY: Let's come back to them, because it's inevitable; there's no way to address Afghanistan completely without talking about Pakistan. And so we understand that, and I want to come back to it. But that sets the stage for some pretty tough choices, and I want to come back to that.
So Ambassador Dobbins, if you'd weigh in, and then we can -- incidentally, don't hesitate to ask each other. I want to encourage you to -- if you all want to challenge each other on some thought, feel free to do so.
AMB. DOBBINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I won't -- I think there's a fairly substantial consensus among us on some of the bigger themes. I want to make five specific suggestions on how to improve our performance in Afghanistan, which I think are generally consistent with what everybody else has been saying.
First, I think we need to work to reunify the command arrangements there. Secondly, I think --
SEN. KERRY: Do what? Unify --
AMB. DOBBINS: Unify the command arrangements. I'll come back and say a sentence or two about each of these. Secondly, I think we need to bolster the senior staff at both the military and civilian level there in the manner we did in Iraq back in 2007. Third, I think we need to work to develop a bottom-up strategy, tribally based strategy, to complement the top-down strategy that we've been following for the last five or six years.
Fourthly, I think we need, in our targeting and aid efforts in Pakistan, need to focus on Baluchistan and not just on the North-West Frontier province and the tribal areas. And fifth, as David has suggested, we need to support the presidential election process, but not any particular candidate.
Now, as regards unifying the command arrangements, at the moment most of the forces in Afghanistan don't fall under General Petraeus. They fall under -- they all fall under General McKiernan, but he responds to two different chains of command. And for the bulk of the forces, two-thirds of the forces at the moment, his superior is a German general in Brunssum who in turn responds to an American general in Belgium. Petraeus only has direct responsibility for about a third of the forces.
And I think that if we're looking for Petraeus and Holbrooke to work the same kind of magic that Petraeus and Crocker did in Iraq, we're going to have to give Petraeus control over the military assets in that country. And that can only be done if General Petraeus has a NATO command, because it can only be done if General Petraeus has a NATO command, because he's not going to be able to command the non- U.S. forces as a purely American commander. And I can talk more about how that might be done, but that's one suggestion.
Secondly, I think one of the secrets of success in Iraq in 2007- 2008 was the quality of the personnel that General Petraeus and Ryan Crocker were able to attract. Ryan Crocker had half a dozen ambassadors working for him during this period in subordinate positions. Many of them are ones I know, and I know they were of the highest quality.
And General Petraeus similarly attracted a broad military as well as civilian staff, including people like David Kilcullen, to advise him. And I think the quality of the advice and the interaction between the embassy and the military command was greatly enhanced by the quality of the personnel who were working together. Now, you know, as, you know, a full disclosure, some of those people were actually sent by the Rand Corporation, so -- but many of them came from other organizations. And --
COL. KILCULLEN: You guys invented counterinsurgency.
AMB. DOBBINS: Right. And so I think that we need to bulk up not just -- you know, it's not just a surge in troops on the ground, it's a surge in intellectual caliber and quality of personnel at the top.
SEN. KERRY: Wouldn't you say the appointment of the new ambassador is a start?
AMB. DOBBINS: Have they -- the new ambassador to -- ?
SEN. KERRY: Afghanistan.
AMB. DOBBINS: I didn't -- have they -- I mean, Holbrooke or have they actually -- ?
MS. CHAYES: No. It's Carl Eickenberg.
SEN. KERRY: General Eickenberg.
AMB. DOBBINS: Yeah. I mean I think he's obviously had a lot of experience there but I do think it's not just -- I'm not questioning the quality of the existing ambassador and military commander, I'm just saying they need comparable staffing. And if it's -- well, enough said on that.
On the -- on a bottom-up strategy, I do think that, as David has told me, the devil will be in the detail in terms of trying to replicate the Sons of Iraq in a very different cultural as well as physical environment. But I do think direct engagement with local populations and bringing them into the process of defeating the insurgency, delivering public services to rural as well as urban populations, is important. And this is one of the reasons why you're going to need very sophisticated staffing at the top to be able to manage a campaign of that complexity successfully.
For a variety of reasons, almost all are targeting in Pakistan -- and I mean targeting for our aid programs as well as targeting for our Hellfire missiles -- has focused, insofar as it's focused on the Pakistani border region at all -- on the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas because -- for two reasons. One, that's where al Qaeda has tended to operate; but, secondly, those are the areas that border the areas where the U.S. has operated. Now, as the U.S. moves into the south, it needs to pay similar attention to what's going on in Baluchistan -- not least because that's where the Taliban is headquartered. The Taliban Council, Ashura, meets in Quetta, the capitol of Baluchistan -- not anywhere in the Northwest Frontier Province.
And finally --
SEN. KERRY: It's my understanding that the Taliban that are currently creating a lot of the problems in the south are now migrating somewhat west and are also sort of north-south, not so much on the border but more internal -- Helmand and other places.
MS. CHAYES: Not the command structure.
SEN. KERRY: I'm not talking about the command structure, I'm talking about the people on the ground creating the problems within Afghanistan.
COL. KILCULLEN: I think it's both right. The logistic support base and the command and control structure and the recruitment and training base for operations in the south of Afghanistan is in Pakistan and Baluchistan. But I do think the idea of thinking of the insurgency as primary southern and eastern in Afghanistan is a little bit overtaken by events in the last fighting season. We saw areas like Bagdis and Farah, which is in the west, become very violent this year. Parts of the north are getting violent. I think it's going to spread. If we're not careful a number of provinces could just get away from us in the next fighting season.
MS. CHAYES: But I would emphasize that Kandahar is the strategic objective certainly in the south. And it's not just Helmand Province, they're in northern and western Kandahar Province. They're very, very close to their strategic objectives.
MR. GHANI: But the essential observation of the Senator remains valid. Now the insurgency has an internal base increasing that -- that enables it.
SEN. KERRY: I'm saying you may have the command structure in Baluchistan but the day-to-day struggle on the ground is being more and more internalized.
MS. CHAYES: Yeah.
MR. GHANI: Exactly.
COL. KILCULLEN: You could remove the Quetta command structure and it would still be self-sustaining --
COL. KILCULLEN: -- that's not a good reason for ignoring Quetta though.
SEN. KERRY: Now, Ambassador, I don't want to cut you off. I want to try to get us going here a little bit but you had -- you were at number three. Do you want to fill out the other three?
AMB. DOBBINS: Actually, that was four, and the last was simply to reiterate that we need to support the electoral process in Afghanistan without supporting a particular candidate. And that's going to be more difficult than it sounds. It sounds like a no- brainer. But the administration -- the last administration and probably this one are already under pressure by various factions to either support Karzai or to support potential alternatives to Karzai.
SEN. KERRY: How does that play out? What if we are legitimately, as we ought to be, strictly neutral in that regard? Is it in our interest, I mean, to be -- obviously, it is not in our interest to be overtly involved in any way. But can we legitimately sit here and say that having set out these priorities we're indifferent as to who might or might not come out of it?
AMB. DOBBINS: I don't know that we're indifferent, I think we're incapable of manipulating the situation to our advantage. And therefore, it's better not to try.
SEN. KERRY: It would be more dangerous if people tried, I assume.
MS. CHAYES: Efforts to hijack are well underway. I mean, very concrete things that I've been observing -- really in broad daylight. Threats against tribal elders if they participate in opposition activities; efforts to buy votes and things like that.
I think when you talk about support of the process, we really have to focus, again, on integrity. In other words, we're doing a lot of efforts to ensure the security of this process but I've seen absolutely no mechanisms being set up to ensure the integrity of it. And so it's already -- the population is already very, very disillusioned because they're seeing these efforts underway.
SEN. KERRY: So let me try -- we want to welcome Senator Feingold here and, Russ, it's just a jump-in when you want and really follow up and have a dialogue here.
Let's try to focus now. There's really been a very interesting -- and I don't think we set out to have everybody kind of come in and have the same point of view -- but it has turned out that there is a fairly unanimous diagnosis that at least the urgency, the nature of the problem, and some of the things we need to do. So let me -- and let me sort of start, if we can, to dig into that a little bit.
One of the things that I have been trying to figure out and observing is the degree to which the old structure -- somebody, when I was recently over there -- and I don't mean any offense to either country -- but this is how someone there described Pakistan and Afghanistan to me. They said that Pakistan is a government without a country and Afghanistan is a country without a government. And they were alluding to the historical sort of culture and structure of the national identity of both places.
And obviously, in Afghanistan you had a king and there was an allegiance through the Jirga to the monarchy even though the monarchy was not a powerful central government. The government of Afghanistan fundamentally operated through the tribes and through a series of tribal affinities. No, not true.
So if that's not true, why is there not a greater ability now to create an identity within Kabul and within the national government to be able to deliver services? Is it simply because of their unwillingness to crack down on corruption and to be that kind of entity?
MR. GHANI: The first issue is narcotics. Unless we focus on narcotics as the key driver of corruption and instability, you are not going to get anywhere.
SEN. KERRY: Do you agree with that, David?
COL. KILCULLEN: Yes sir. The narcotics industry is a $4 billion industry. Of that money, the farmers who grow the poppy get about $800 million, the other $3.2 billion washes around the Afghan government system as a huge incentive to corruption.
SEN. KERRY: It actually washes around the Afghan government system or --?
MS. CHAYES: Absolutely.
COL. KILCULLEN: Yeah, the Taliban do draw a lot of their funding from the poppy, but by far the biggest beneficiary of the narcotics industry is corrupt officials.
MS. CHAYES: Absolutely.
MR. GHANI: And it's here that the failure of both the Afghan government and the international community to focus on a coherent agricultural development strategy that would be market-based, that would be based on the basis of developing special ties to Europe, the Gulf, China and India has really been one of those amazing short- sighted failures that needs to be registered.
The good news is that if we really focus on a target of increasing rural income from $1 a day to $4 a day, one can shift. Four dollars a day in income is when poppy does not become profitable. It's back-breaking work; it's highly suited but it's back-breaking work. And I would say that that is the key.
If I may pick on something that David said earlier regarding expenses of option A. It will be expensive if the current modality, where out of $1 of U.S. assistance, roughly $.70 comes back to Washington, is continued. The same amount of money could be made four to five times more effective if different mechanisms were developed. So it's not the total sum of money but how much of it gets to be spent on the ground that is the real issue.
SEN. KERRY: Let me come back if I can on the tribal business.
MS. CHAYES: Yeah, I'd love to talk about that too.
SEN. KERRY: And I want to come back to narcotics. We can't leave it out there but I still want to pursue this a little bit. It's my understanding that, again -- and I want you to correct the record here if you can, that the Soviets decimated a lot of the tribal leadership -- they were killed -- and it was undone. And then to some degree, when we came in with the Northern Alliance and sort of cut these deals with some of the warlords and others, we further undermined some of those tribal relationships so that now the valleys that used to be protected under sort of the ethic of hospitality and danger and so forth are not now so protected, which allows the Taliban to come in and offer it or there is corruption that supplants it. Can you speak to that?
MR. GHANI: Yes, certainly. The first issue is that the Soviets had two phases. In Phase I they devastated tribal leadership, in Phase II they did exactly the Sons of Iraq -- and it did not succeed. So the model that -- this bottom-up model that Jim was referring to needs to be very carefully looked at. We've been there before and it has not succeeded. And I just think the context need to take place through the Taliban, directing their efforts to beheading the tribal leadership -- because that was an elite; that's wwould have been seen as opposed to.
Free now, Afghanistan does not have inherited leadership. There is no primogeniture; there's no ultimogeniture, there is no form of succession. It's an individualistic society where competition for high office is incredibly high -- 6,000 people run for 2,500 seats in Parliament. New forces have come that are vying for leadership. The key is the mechanism of being able to produce a legitimate mechanism of local leadership.
So any attempts at reading the past, of saying this particular family was important or that anybody would come to you and say give me $10 million and I can get this straight or this province secured, they will not get that part. So the manipulation of the symbols is a very important point; but new forces, like in a (hospice ?) opposite of Waziristan. And when I asked the elders who is going to determine the result of the election, do you know what they said? Women. It's the women's organization now that has emerged as a very significant player. There's a tension between a view that is being pervaded from reading of history and a lot of those people have really not done history. In the contemporary reality, that is far more complex.
SEN. KERRY: Sorry. Go ahead, Sarah.
MS. CHAYES: Just on the tribal thing, I think you introduced me as a member of our fair state of Massachusetts, and what I would like to try to submit is what I'm understanding, what I'm gathering from the Afghans I've lived amongst, is that you can think about tribal identities and structure as a kind of dual citizenship.
I am a citizen of the state of Massachusetts; I'm a citizen of The United States of America. Those two identities and allegiances are not in contradiction -- they're complementary. And so when you go to an Afghan and say, are you a Pashtun or are you an Afghan, they don't actually understand that question because it's not contradictory. And so what I've experienced absolutely unanimously, from Afghans since 2001, is the desire for a functioning responsive national government respectful of them.
And talking about this so-called bottom-up initiative, I spent some time with tribal elders in Wardak, which is the province in which the pilot is being rolled out, 100 percent of them were against this idea because they said, you know what, we've come out of a period of excessive fractured armed power; that's our disease. What we want is a government. We want police and we want army.
COL. KILCULLEN: Just to add to that, we need to recognize how the current situation, you know, arose -- and I want to refer to something that Ashraf said about legitimate local governance being the most important thing. One of the promises that we made was that we were going to hold district elections. We never did that. We said the environment is too dangerous and so we're not going to have district elections. That's a grievance that I hear from people that I talk to at the tribal level who say, you know, what's happened is the government has come in here and appointed some guy from Kabul to run our affairs. And, in fact, because the Karzai government doesn't have a very strong tribal base, they've often tended to appoint leaders who are from minority tribes, and so -- particularly in the south. In the east the terrain is different and so you tend to get more people from majority tribes.
So what the Taliban have done, their political strategy has been to go to the tribes and to other groups of people who are dispossessed and say you've been cut out of the loop; we're going to work with you to get you back in the game. The way to do that is to just have local elections.
SEN. KERRY: That seems to argue that the tribalism is still very much at play.
COL. KILCULLEN: If you ask an Afghan, they will say that it's much less tribal than it used to be -- and that is undoubtedly true. And the tribal structure has eroded in different ways --
SEN. KERRY: But you're talking about --
COL. KILCULLEN: -- but tribes are still an important part of people's identity.
SEN. KERRY: I beg your pardon?
COL. KILCULLEN: Tribes are still an important part of people's identity.
SEN. KERRY: And is it a --
MR. GHANI: They're not corporate identities. They do not have fixed decision-making, class ownership is not based on tribe; land has been a commodity; wealth erodes. So the competition -- as a point of reference of identity, as Sarah was saying, it's very real. When one is asked who one is, the answer is depending on who asks and where one is.
SEN. KERRY: But in terms of the old maxim all politics is local and you're dealing with day-to-day choices about feeding your family and being protected -- mostly being safe -- isn't there still a tribal component to that statement?
MR. GHANI: It depends on the part --
COL. KILCULLEN: I think the word "tribe" is getting us in trouble here. Tribe doesn't mean the same thing, say, in Iraq as it does in Afghanistan, for example. In Iraq, tribes were centrally- ordered hierarchies and you could make a deal with the sheikh and the tribe would carry out the deal; that's not how a Pashtun tribe works. It's a what we call a segmentary kinship system -- I don't want to get into the anthropology of it but basically, as Ashraf and Sarah had been saying, tribe identity is what anthropologists call contingent identity.
If you're talking to somebody from another state, then, you're from Massachusetts; if you're talking to somebody from another country, you're an American, you know. And it depends on who you're talking to what your identity is. I think that, assuming the tribes that I have worked with, which is mainly in the east, tribe identity is very important. There are business networks, there are patronage networks; there are networks that help and support and they're your last resort to fall back on if the government doesn't step up and deliver services. But they don't replace government.
SEN. KERRY: Push your thing here, Russ. Is it on? Check the light.
MS. CHAYES: Look at the light.
SEN. KERRY: I think there's a little light right on the bottom there.
(Off mike commentary.)
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D-WI): Mr. Chairman, first thanks for this format and I think this kind of thing can work very well to really get into these subjects and thank you.
But on this -- related to this, the issue of these army militias, the Pentagon has recently begun an Afghanistan social outreach program -- apparently it's a pilot program supporting local militias in an effort to improve security throughout the country. Now, ven if these militias are vetted and subject to existing security structures -- and in light of some of the things you were just saying about some of the local issues and tribes and those issues -- does this really make sense?
COL. KILCULLEN: I might pick that one up -- noting that we all have opinions on it so I won't sort of monopolize. Actually what the tribes are asking for in a lot of cases is not that we arm them, it's that we allow them to carry arms openly. They already have weapons. And I think the danger is that in these kinds of circumstances, power tends to flow to local armed groups and away from central or unarmed groups and that's a danger -- that we might sort of recreate a warlordism kind of a structure. The positive side to it strategically is -- as I outlined in my opening remarks, we just may not have the money to do this all ourselves and we may need a strategic game- changer that, if you like, changes the strategic arithmetic.
I'm going to give you an example. It costs $100,000 per year to put a U.S. soldier into Afghanistan, minimum; it costs about one-tenth of that to run an Afghan soldier on the ground. We should ideally be putting our effort into the Afghan army and Afghan police, but it takes a long time to train those guys. The strategic arithmetic of it is pretty straightforward.
If we were to put an extra 50,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan -- and we don't have them -- but if we were to put them in, our total benefit by the time you guard your bases and run your headquarters and run your lines of communication and do all the non-combat functions, you get about 10,000 troops out on the ground at any one time.
If, instead of doing that we were to get 50,000 Afghans to work for us, the benefit that you get is not 10,000, but it's not 50,000, it's 100,000, because you've taken 50,000 out of the enemy's orbit and but them into ours.
SEN. FEINGOLD: You're talking about people who would be part of the Afghan military --
COL. KILCULLEN: Right, well --
SEN. FEINGOLD: -- not the militias, right?
COL. KILCULLEN: -- it could be a variety of things. It could be neighborhood watch; could be a work program; it could be just guarding their own little district, rather than running around with a weapon and being a militia; it could be joining the police or the military -- there's a variety of things. And I think what we've tended to do is we've tended to conflate security in a given district with the number of troops that we put into that district. It's a very complex --
SEN. FEINGOLD: Is it fair to say that you would think this program supporting local militias is likely to be counterproductive?
COL. KILCULLEN: No, I think it's really "the devil is in the details." It depends on how we do it, and how they work.
MR. GHANI: But, the larger issue really is, you know, are we talking about law and order, or are we talking about narrow security? Short-term actions in Afghanistan have always produced unintended, long-term consequences that have been devastating.
And this very much could be one of those, because it is not part of a national strategy of consensus; it is resented by other groups; it is seen as a threat. So, that's the first observation to make. If one is arming one segment of the population, and other segments of the population perceive it as changing the balance, this is not positive.
Second, are there alternatives? There are 135,000 demobilized officers who were trained by the Soviets in counterinsurgency tactics. They're selling vegetables on the street. Why are we going to arm tribes -- so-called, when you can have alternatives that can secure?
And, three, what are the drivers of conflict? One has to come with a very detailed analysis. In the Wardak Province, a lot of this is about -- corn rights. Natural resources now are becoming a source of conflict. And unless one sees these drivers of conflict, and the way security companies will form again, was that security companies will form from certain ethnic groups with certain type of connections or contracts were awarded.
I think one has to be very, very careful not to propose short- term measures and then say, they may work or may not work.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, Mr. Ghani, would you say then that the Pentagon program with these militias is likely to be counterproductive?
MR. GHANI: At this time, I feel that this is a program that is likely to be more negative than positive, because it's a time of elections; it is not supported by local leaders, as Sarah said before you, and one needs to be very careful about how it's perceived.
AMB. DOBBINS: I think Ashraf has established some good criteria for moving forward, but I don't think that they're arguments against moving forward. The fact is, most of Afghans live in dispersed populations, away from large metropolitan centers. And unless they're able to protect themselves against Taliban incursions, they're going to be vulnerable and we're not going to be able to protect them 24 hours a day, and --
SEN. KERRY: But, isn't it the truth that even with the additional 30,000 troops we're not going to be able to do that?
AMB. DOBBINS: Of course --
COL. KILCULLEN: Unless you make them self-defending.
AMB. DOBBINS: -- absolutely not. It's --
SEN. KERRY: Unless we what?
COL. KILCULLEN: Unless we make the population self-protecting. And I think the role of the --
SEN. KERRY: You agree with the self-protecting?
COL. KILCULLEN: Well, just to finish, I think the role of these -- because we agree on this, is local law and order. That's what they need to be doing. Right now, the people on the ground who are doing law and order and protecting the population is the Taliban, right. The police are out there chasing the Taliban. If these guys are more like the traditional Arbakai, and they do the local law and order and governance support to legitimate district officials and people who are part of the Afghan government --
SEN. KERRY: How do you select who does that? How do you know who can do that with the most authority?
MR. GHANI: But, you see this is central -- where we come back to the central issue. The threat to the local population is from the police.
MS. CHAYES: Not from the Taliban.
MR. GHANI: Not from the Taliban.
MS. CHAYES: Or not exclusively from the Taliban.
MR. GHANI: Not exclusively from the Taliban.
What is the driver? You know, a counterinsurgency environment is characterized by a government standing for law and order and development, and the insurgency is standing for disorder and chaos. If you look into the judicial sector, would anybody in rural Afghanistan go to the government to settle disputes regarding property rights? No. Because they're shaken.
So the vacuum is created precisely by that, because of that -- injecting arms without addressing the vacuum of governance.
MS. CHAYES: Exactly.
MR. GHANI: It's only addressing one component of a larger issue. And we need to bring about this issue that governance, again, needs to be established. And governance has taken -- take a variety of forms. It's not one form that suits all localities in Afghanistan, one has to understand the segmentation map.
SEN. KERRY: So, let me ask sort of the pregnant question which is -- at least leaping out to me in this. Here we are providing American treasure, NATO is providing treasure from Europe -- both money, and especially troops, and it is in support of a government that everybody here has agreed is fundamentally failing and corrupt.
COL. KILCULLEN: But also legitimate.
SEN. KERRY: Excuse me?
COL. KILCULLEN: But, also legitimate.
SEN. KERRY: But, also legitimate -- elected. I understand.
COL. KILCULLEN: Democratically elected, you know. We can't just walk away from --
SEN. KERRY: So, what is step number one for President Obama and this administration, in terms of the capacity to leverage different behavior? Because it seems to me if those police and that government began to behave differently --
MS. CHAYES: Exactly.
SEN. KERRY: -- you move way ahead faster than in any other way. Is that legitimate?
COL. KILCULLEN: Mm-hmm. (In affirmation.)
MR. GHANI: Yes.
MS. CHAYES: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: So, what do we do? I mean, why are supporting something that is corrupt?
MS. CHAYES: Accountability -- (inaudible) --
SEN. KERRY: Why has this confrontation not taken place?
MS. CHAYES: An accountability offensive is needed. And it does, I think, in the immediate term, need to be intrusive. Because to say, okay, now it's up to the Afghans to rein their government in, after we -- it is legitimate, David, but, frankly, most of the Afghan population feels that we imposed the individuals on them in positions of power with the sole exception of President Karzai.
And so there's a real feeling that we have stacked the deck against the Afghan population, because when they have grievances they take it to the government, the government doesn't listen; and then we are in support of the government, so we don't help them out to leverage those grievances.
And I think that in the immediate-term we need to start coming up with some rather intrusive -- that is to say, "international, heavy," mechanisms to start redressing grievances. And a couple of symbolic cases immediately will go a very long way to bolstering the population and making the population understand that we're standing with them and not with government officials that are causing them harm.
And so I'd actually like to take a leaf out of the book of this administration which, in its very first days, made some really symbolic statements and actions in favor of government transparency. And I think a similar, sort of, exporting that ethos to Afghanistan immediately would be useful. You know, we don't have time here to go into the weeds of the mechanisms, but there are several. It's not -- it's not impossible.
COL. KILCULLEN: And I would agree with that entirely.
And I would say that, how you do that in a security domain is you move away from a mentoring model toward a partnering model. So, right now we have a mentoring model towards the Afghan military and police, where we have seven or eight guys with an Afghan police battalion. Because of the security environment, those guys can't be out on the ground. They have to be with the headquarters, and they can't see what the police are doing on the ground, and so the police can engage in corrupt behavior.
What we found in Iraq, and also the parts of Afghanistan that we've tried it, is that when you put U.S. military, Afghan military and Afghan police all together, and make them operate always as a team, the improvement of all three components improves, because the Americans have much better insight into local languages, local environment, and so on; the Afghan military gets a model of how to do the military operations and starts to lift its game; and, importantly, the police are not able to engage in corrupt behavior because there's somebody looking over their shoulder who hasn't been bought off and can say, "Hang on, why are you turning a blind eye to this, or why are you beating up that old lady?" And there's a -- there's an accountability that's built in at the lowest level.
And that's just simply a matter of changing the way that we operate, to focus on always having, let's say, an Afghan police battalion, working with an Afghan army division, working with a U.S. Army brigade, and always have them out on the ground together, rather than operating separately. It's just kind of how we've been doing now.
MR. GHANI: The issue really here is clarity. I mean, medium -- the problem has been that long-term objectives have been formulated that required 20 or 30 years of realization, but the approach has always been six months -- in terms of funding, in terms of commitment, in terms of change of personnel. Heads of UID (sic) missions, it's routinely circulated after nine months. There's no continuity of staff, the point that Jim was speaking to. So, the management- governing part.
Second, is reliance on contractors. Six billion dollars of U.S. assistance has gone to this corrupt police, and as of June 28th, 2008, not one unit of police was ready because a corrupt organization was taken and infused with resources. One has to have a different project. The Afghan army works because it acquired a clear mission, and the demobilization of the militias took place. Nothing of that kind happened with the police.
SEN. KERRY: But, in fairness, if I can ask, I mean, one of the -- the police are kind of "out there." I mean, a lot of police have been killed.
MR. GHANI: Absolutely.
COL. KILCULLEN: That's because they're misemploying them.
SEN. KERRY: Because they're what?
COL. KILCULLEN: We're misemploying them. We're using them as a less well-trained, less well-armed version of the army, instead of getting them to do law and order and local policing. And that's created a vacuum for the Taliban --
SEN. KERRY: Can't -- can a solo police officer -- in one of those communities where the Taliban have the ability to move in packs and quietly, and clandestinely, and so forth, and terrorize -- can that lone, or few policemen, actually stand up to them?
COL. KILCULLEN: No, that why the partnering model that I was talking about is important, so you have --
SEN. KERRY: The what?
COL. KILCULLEN: The partnering model, so you have --
SEN. KERRY: Right.
COL. KILCULLEN: -- U.S. military, Afghan military and Afghan police all together. And those guys --
SEN. KERRY: But, that requires a rather mass of force, doesn't it?
COL. KILCULLEN: Which is the argument for the bottom-up strategy -- that we can't do it across the whole country.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): Senator, can I ask a follow-up?
SEN. KERRY: Yeah, of course. Anytime. Jump right in. You don't even need to ask, just jump in. Jim, same thing.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: All right. There seems to be a fair amount of unanimity of opinion here about what needs to be done on the ground. Is there a realization on the part of NATO officials, of representatives of the American government who are in Afghanistan, that the actions that you all are suggesting are what we need to do going forward? Or do you think they have a totally different view of what needs to be done?
AMB. DOBBINS: I might try that. I mean, I think -- I was very critical of the last administration for its early handling of Afghanistan, but I think in the last year or so they have fundamentally reassessed the mission and come to many of the conclusions that the current administration is picking up. So, I think that the American officials -- both the ones who were responsible and the ones who are responsible, fully accept what's being said around here, and they're debating the same things we're debating, because we're not in full agreement on everything.
Among the Allied officials, I'd say that this is less the case. Most Allies are in Afghanistan because we are, not because they feel, themselves, compelled by any particular national interest to be there. And they're, sort of, you know, "We'll do the minimum to keep the Americans happy" -- and maybe a bit less than that, but they aren't putting the intellectual resources, and they aren't conducting national -- they're conducting national debates about whether they should be there at all, they're not conducting national debates about how to do the job better.
And so bringing them along to the same level of intellectual engagement, that this group demonstrates is occurring in Washington, is going to be a major task for, you know, Dick Holbrooke and other American officials who -- one of whose main tasks are going to be consulting with the Allies and getting them engaged intellectually.
MS. CHAYES: Could I ask you a question about the -- oops, Ambassador, about -- following on the Allies thing, you suggested that there might be a way to give General Petraeus a NATO command. Could you elaborate on that? I found that really interesting.
AMB. DOBBINS: I would propose that General Petraeus be made a major NATO commander, which would mean that he would have a NATO staff, parallel to his American staff, and be able to run NATO operations through the NATO staff as he runs American operations through the American staff.
That's essentially what McKiernan has in Afghanistan, and it's traditionally how NATO has worked. In fact, it's how the United States has worked with Europe since 1942 when the British and the Americans set up that kind of arrangement for a unified command -- unified multi-national command.
So, it's not -- you know, we have two major NATO commands now -- one in Mons --
MS. CHAYES: Mons, and one in Brussels.
AMB. DOBBINS: -- which is SACEUR, and we have one in Norfolk, which is doing what's called "transformation," which is a rather -- now, dated set of priorities.
And I would suggest we just move all those NATO staffers from Norfolk to Tampa and create a NATO command structure. That would mean that Petraeus would have to go to the NATO Council and argue for NATO strategy there, and would receive instructions through the NATO chain, as well as through the U.S. chain.
But, this is something we've done for 50 years, and if the Allies could be brought to agree to it, I think it would be a far --
SEN. KERRY: I will be -- depending on the votes here and what happens, I will be attending the -- (inaudible) -- conference this weekend, and General Jones and Vice President Biden and General Petraeus will be there. So I'll sort of raise this quietly and see what the thinking is also with some of our NATO folks.
COL. KILCULLEN: (Off mike.) This is an issue that we're talking about. I'm coming --
SEN. KERRY: Go ahead, yeah.
COL. KILCULLEN: Yeah, I'm coming to Munich as well, so we can talk about this in a little bit of detail, perhaps, over the weekend.
SEN. KERRY: Good.
COL. KILCULLEN: I don't want to derail the conversation, but I think it is important that we do talk about Pakistan a little bit. We had a lot of arguments in the last few years about, is Pakistan the enemy, or are they on the same side as us; can you consider them an enemy or an ally in the war on terror?
And I just want to say that, from my point of view, Pakistan is not the enemy. But we do have enemies in Pakistan, and we need to stop looking at the nation-state level, and treating it like a billiard ball, and saying, you know, what can we do with Pakistan? And start looking below that level -- as Ambassador Dobbins was suggesting before about Baluchistan, but we need to look below the level of the national government and we need to say, who are our friends, who are our enemies?
And we do have a lot of friends in Pakistan -- the civilian- elected democratic politicians, for a start, and large parts of the Pakistani population. But, we do have enemies -- we have enemies in the ISI, we have enemies in the national security establishment, we have enemies in the military, and we have other people who are neither our friends nor our enemies but they're just following their own interests that intersect badly with ours.
And I think that we need to start looking at a fundamentally diplomatic strategy that seeks to empower the civilian-elected politicians to take control of their own national security establishment. And this is the real fundamental problem that we see in Pakistan: it's both unwilling and unable to assist us. And we can't make -- as Ashraf said, there's no point in making them able if you don't make them willing. You've got to deal with that problem first, and empower the civilians to take control of ISI and take control of the military, and then we're in a position to start assisting them.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: (Off mike.)
SEN. KERRY: Well, -- sorry, go ahead. Kirsten, get it done -- is the light on? Why don't we just -- can we leave them on? Is there a way?
MS. CHAYES: I think they are on.
SEN. KERRY: Are they all on?
SEN. GILLIBRAND: How do you propose to do that? What's your top three ideas about how best to draw them in as willing participants? Is it through targeted investments in education, health care, economic development in the border regions, in the FATA? Is it more of a diplomatic relationship? Is it developing a strong working relationship with a new government? I'd really like your specific proposals.
COL. KILCULLEN: Right. Well, I think we could go on -- more beyond three, but one of the things that we really need to do is to think about the power and structure of the ISI, which does both internal and external intelligence work, it does covert action. If you took all the 17 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community, rolled them up together, that's all ISI, and it's a very, very powerful structure.
It's also not a rogue organization. About 65 percent of the personnel in ISI are ordinary army officers on (consignment ?) for a year or two, who then go back into the main structure of the military. So, breaking that structure up and making it more responsive to civilian politicians, and what we would call "political primacy" -- or "civilian primacy" is critical.
Various attempts have been made to do that, but they've always found that on the fact that it's just too powerful for the civilian politicians to break it up. So, we need to really encourage the Pakistani civilian politicians to do that, and we need to hold -- this is my second point, we need to hold some of the assistance we give to Pakistan conditional on its performance in dealing with the Taliban.
We pay around about $120 million a month in something called "Coalition Support" funds, which are supposed to go toward helping control the Taliban and deal with al-Qaeda, and a variety of other things. Historically, it hasn't actually been spent primarily on that sort of task. And we need to start -- and this is a proposal that, you know, members of your committee have put forward before -- we need to really start putting some conditionality on that and saying it's not just a blank check.
SEN. GILLIBRAND: That's something that, when I was in Pakistan, the general who was in charge of operations also recommended. However, the mechanism to do that is really a question -- and whether we should have an inspector general-type role to do the kind of investigative analysis of where money that is given is actually spent, whether we can encourage the Pakistani government to give us reports on how money is spent, sort of a receipt -- I don't know the best mechanism. I'd like to know your thoughts on that.
COL. KILCULLEN: Yeah, I'd be guessing. I mean, you'd need to ask someone who's really familiar with Pakistani --
SEN. GILLIBRAND: Ashraf can -- (inaudible) --
SEN. KERRY: Let me just say -- a couple of points, if I can, in answer to that.
First of all, on Pakistan, I've been there a number of times recently. And I've been working fairly closely with President Zardari and others -- General Kiyani and others -- on these very issues. We're trying to rewrite a little bit the bill we put in last year with $1.5 billion per year for the kind of capacity-building, governance, other efforts that are so necessary.
I have found that President Zardari is very committed to trying to increase the accountability and to move in these directions. I also find that both General Pasha, head of the ISI now -- newly appointed; and General Kiyani, chief of staff of the army, are likewise committed. And in my conversations with Admiral Mullen and with other players, there is a sense of some transformation -- of a willingness to engage in some transformation.
It's a new government; it's a young government. I was there with, you know, now Vice President Biden and Senator Hagel right at the time of the elections. It's the first time there has ever been a peaceful transfer, while a president's been in power, of a newly elected president and there are some encouraging signs.
The army is taking on the bad folks who are numerous: the Hakani network, the Baitullah Mehsud network and, obviously, the Taliban and al Qaeda and others in the western part of the country. There's a battle going on in Peshawar now or had been, as you know.
So there are encouraging efforts. I was in Peshawar, which is increasingly more a dangerous place. As we know, the northwest province and Swat are increasingly troubled. And so I think there's an understanding here and a significant effort to try to focus on the kinds of things that you just talked about, but we need to tweak that bill more effectively and I hope that we're going to be able to do it so that we can put it together to have the kind of accountability you've just talked about.
COL. KILCULLEN: I think Ashraf has a point, but I have a couple of other points to as well -- things we should be doing.
MR. GHANI: The first issue, I think, that needs to be brought to attention is that this year, Pakistan's rate of growth is going to decline some 6 percent to 2 percent. Seventy percent of the population of Pakistan is projected to be living under $1.25 a day. And urban dislocations are going to be a major driver of instability.
Two, Pakistan has had a historical insecurity regarding its relations with the rest -- that it has been an episodic relation rather than a partnership. So in terms of the large entry, Pakistan is not come with a definition of national interest to become a serious constructive regional player.
So in terms of the larger issues, first I think a framework is required -- 10 to 15 years and the Biden-Lugar bill provides an excellent basis of this -- to provide a set of conditionally realities in return for very meaningful governance changes.
Two, that there is a regional framework of cooperation, which allows economic and social cooperation. And three, as part of that, there would be a special emphasis on FATA and Balochistan because these areas are the neglected areas of government. They have not received any attention systematically. And the Pakistani army at times, feels in these regions as a foreign army. Because of that, a fundamental rethinking of cooperation along the border is necessary.
In terms of mechanism, there is a fairly significant amount of experience as to how to make the expenditure of money transparent and accountable. But Pakistan has had 49 loans from IMF and the World Bank and it's been repeating the same issues. So the mapping of the future, in terms of accountability, really needs to draw on examples of what would then -- with European accession models, there is a series of conditionalities that are very meaningful and sequential.
In that context -- the last observation -- the security establishment of Pakistan has not defined a national interest that is constructive vis-a-vis the region. And unless that mind shift occurs, in the nation of multiple sets of policies, vis-a-vis the neighbors -- one coming from the civilian leadership that has been quite construction -- but it's the actuality on the ground that constitutes the nature of the threat, not rhetoric.
So I think there is an opportunity, but the opportunity really needs to be seized in terms of a 10-year framework.
COL. KILCULLEN: And again, so I'll just finish answering your question -- and this is issues that your committee can be involved in -- Richard Holbrooke needs a capable and sizeable staff and enough budget to do his work properly.
I think the appointment of him to be the regional special envoy is extremely positive, but there's a danger that he's not going to get the resources or the support from the bureaucracy that he needs and it's critical that that happens.
Secondly, to build on what Ashraf said, the dynamic that drives the Pakistani security state in a negative direction is fear of India. And the India-Pakistan conflict is not intractable, but it's one that we haven't put a lot of effort in to try to fix and it is something that this committee can be very engaged in, and that Mr. Holbrooke's going to need to be engaged in.
The third issue is China. The Chinese have a very major port facility in Gwadar, in the south of Balochistan, the area that Ambassador Dobbins was talking about, and they also have a very strong interest in a stable Pakistan. Pakistan in the second half of the Cold War was a client, say, to the Chinese before we built a stronger relationship with it. And so there is a long history of the Chinese needing access to the sea and needing a stable Pakistan for their own interests. And we should be able to selectively engage and work cooperatively with the Chinese on that issue.
And a final point is a little bit controversial and we can't necessarily talk about it in detail here, but covert action inside Pakistan -- I'm talking about Predator strikes, but also other things. While you might want to engage in it for a variety of other reasons, its effect on Pakistan is entirely negative and its effect on stability in Pakistan is extremely negative. We need to be extremely cautious about use of lethal covert action against targets in Pakistan, noting that, you know, Pakistan is 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army larger than the U.S. Army. You know, you make that place collapse, you've got some very significant problems.
SEN. KERRY: I couldn't agree more. And in that line, we have actually engaged in discussions already. Senator Lugar and I have had some briefings with various entities that pertain to those choices and were, I think, very sensitive now to the negative implications of that.
And the collateral damage issue also has been a serious issue and we have to pay attention to that.
Ashraf, I just need to inform you that due to very perverse circumstances in the United States Senate, it's now the Kerry-Lugar --
MR. GHANI: Oh -- (laughs) -- I'm delighted, Senator. Thank you.
MR. DOBBINS: Senator, I'd like to just reinforce one point that David made and that's that assuming you are able to move forward with a substantial, but conditioned assistance package for Pakistan -- and you want to allow that to be employed in order to enhance our influence and encourage movement in Pakistan toward various things -- I think it's very important that that be -- that that package be put together and conveyed in a way that allows Holbrooke to actually be able to use it, manipulate it and control it.
Often our assistance is fragmented. Some goes to AID, some goes to three of four different bureaus in the State Department; some goes to the Defense Department. Each of them have independent authority, independent reporting responsibilities to the Hill and it's very difficult -- and I did this job five times, succeeding Holbrooke in one case -- for whoever's supposed to be in charge of managing that particular nation-building operation to take all of the sources of American influence and apply them at the decisive point.
Pakistan is going to be a nation-building operation. It's not a nation-building operation with American troops, but it has all the other characteristics of it. And so it's going to be very important to empower the person that you expect to deliver the results.
SEN. KERRY: Let me drive -- that's very, very important and we will follow up on that. Let me try to drive a few points and give you a framework here.
We've been lucky that there weren't votes. They originally were going to have a vote at 10:30 that would have truncated this, but we are going to have, I think, a series of votes at 11:45. I think the best thing to try to do is drive to conclude this in the next the 20 minutes that we have -- 25 minutes -- so everybody can think in those terms -- rather than try to reconvene, because of the difficulties of the Senate schedules. But I think that will have given us a good chance, really, to have had a pretty uninterrupted conversation.
Let me try to come back to the narcotics issue. We've got a clarity here about the governance issues and those have been helpful, everybody shedding light on them. We may not have finalized every detail about how to approach it, but I think we've got a lot of questions on the table.
Secondly, the governance link to corruption and we have to deal with that. Secondly, the police -- police training, police deployment, et cetera -- and the partnership issue has been put on the table. Thirdly, empower Holbrooke properly and getting the component to be able to work here.
In addition, the Pakistan component of this is now on the table. But narcotics was put on the table as a central issue. And I think there's an agreement here. I think 90 percent of the world's opium is coming out of Afghanistan and we know it. And there's obvious, clear evidence that we have of corruption empowering that narcotics traffic.
I've heard variances of 1 billion to 4 billion (dollars), but let's say it's on the low side of 1 billion (dollars). You're still talking about the potential divide of local folks taking away -- let's say it's 10 percent or 5 percent -- $100 million or $200 million in the hands of insurgents is a lot of money. And if it's indeed 1 billion (dollars), you know, that's a lot of capacity that you have to compete against.
I'm told that the farmers are, in fact, paid by the narcotics traffickers up front for the winter. So they're covered and they know they've got their income and then they're, in a sense, duty bound to go ahead and put the crop in.
So does that mean that we're going to have to think about -- and I speak sort of from my former law enforcement seat here where we used to struggle with this here -- do you have to pay these folks up front? Do we have to pay them? Do we have to buy their allegiance and give them a different crop, because we're paying almost the equivalent amount of money?
MS. CHAYES: I'd love to take a crack at that, because it turns out what we do in our cooperative is try to expand the market for licit local agriculture. And it turns out that there are abundant -- you don't have to think about injecting new crops into Afghanistan. There are abundant really valuable crops -- including the fruits. And so there's a lot of things you can do to -- every single Afghan villager, in at least Kandahar province, that I've spoken with would rather grow pomegranates or almonds or apricots than opium. It would make them a lot more money and it's more dignified. It obeys the strictures of their religion.
The problem is that there's a four-year -- if you plant a sapling, you don't get fruit for four or five years and nobody that I know can afford that period of taking their land out of production.
It would be absolutely simple -- I mean, the way you phrased it I think was just a little bit pejorative -- that we have to buy someone's allegiance. Rather, what I think would be really easy would be to simply make financially feasible for people to plant saplings by bridging that financial gap. And you could call -- if you want to -- you cal their orchards nurseries or something like that. And you pay them to cultivate saplings that could then serve as the next phase -- next phase of the project as you expand it. In other words, the first farmers keep some of their trees in orchard. As they thin their orchards, they provide those saplings to the next round.
And it really means paying farmers what they would make off of vegetables on that amount of land for four years. And then no one will chop down trees to grow poppy -- as opposed to wheat, which you can switch one year to the next.
The next thing I think would be very important for us to do is look at -- one of the reasons I went into soap, which is what we make and we make soap for export, really beautiful soap for export to the U.S. and Canada and we are sold out. It works. But the reason that I looked at that is because we don't have to confront phytosanitary standards. The FDA has a loophole for soap, because it's something that -- the lye kills any germs and you put it on your skin. You don't eat it.
But I think a lot of work needs to be spent in maybe looking at phytosanitary standards here. Is there a possibility of making them a bit more flexible for Afghanistan and really focusing on hygienic, you know, processing and packaging of Afghan agricultural products, which I'm here to tell you are absolutely world class. You won't eat anything like Afghan fruits.
And so -- and then also, local agri-business for the domestic market and things like that. And I've seen a real failure of the development agencies in focusing on these issues.
MR. GHANI: If I could -- yes, thank you.
The first issue is to realize that this is not a poor man's problem. In 2004, roughly 300,000 people were involved in trafficking. Today, it's a cartel of 20 individuals. It has become Colombia-like. The key beneficiaries are not the small farmers. And that component requires interdiction, but not interdiction of opium -- David, I think, would agree very much on this -- but of heroin. It's 1,100 tons of heroin and heroin is unstable.
So one component is going to require really targeting the key traffickers with heroin, where the losses are maximum, but not the farmers. Eradication would be the wrong strategy.
MS. CHAYES: Exactly.
MR. GHANI: Second, looked at from a marketing perspective, we have a major market. It's called NATO. NATO is not buying anything from Afghanistan, except some bottled water and that's American forces, not NATO -- in general. So if a shift were to occur like what General Petraeus did in Iraq to buy Afghan first by international forces, that would immediately produce the market structures. So a lot of the constraints that lie towards second and third phase market will really disappear.
That type of support will have immediately $1 billion a year in import substitution. And then, the regional market can develop.
Three, this is the opportunity, Senator, to really speak to Europe. Europe, if it could adopt a common agricultural policy vis-a- vis Afghanistan and relax some of its constraints on imports, would make a major contribution.
Fourth, we have a model in land-grant colleges. The knowledge to do -- to transform Afghanistan's agriculture fully resides in the land-grant colleges in the United States. And that's the transformation of -- western United States provide one model, and then there's an excellent model in Taiwan, in Korea.
The United States created a commission called the Joint Commission for China. And it became instrumental in transforming Taiwan's agriculture and Taiwan society. So that past offers a fairly significant number of mechanisms. But the key of this -- vis-a-vis Afghan farmer -- is to guarantee them a market. And understand that there is a life opportunity.
And last observation -- it's women. Poppy is predominately a male crop in Afghanistan. Women have not gotten involved with it. But a household judges its total income. So if there were a series of women-specific jobs -- like jewelry. Jewelry could generation 600,000 jobs in Afghanistan quite easily, on my calculation. Then one can really come.
Last thing -- Afghanistan has a choice to become a mining economy -- it's one of the richest mineral resources in the region -- or a drug economy. And unfortunately, the focus on developing the legal mining economy has not received sufficient attention, because the combination of use of natural assets in transforming Afghanistan -- that's why I was talking about a regional approach. So a land bridge between Pakistan and Central Asia is going to be very important.
Pakistan used to import $26 million under the Taliban a year. When I finance minister and Mr. Shaukat Aziz was the finance minister of Pakistan, we agree on an approach. In two years, Pakistan's exports of Afghanistan legally went to 1.3 billion (dollars).
So there's a lot that could come from a regional win-win strategy, particularly focuses on infrastructure as approached from regions.
SEN. KERRY: Very interesting.
How do we transform the NATO/European donation and coordination and even attitude about this?
As you said, Ambassador, they're debating whether to be there, not necessarily what's the best way to achieve this. What's your sense of that, Colonel? What do you think?
COL. KILCULLEN: Well, I think that some NATO countries that were in Afghanistan the last few years were there because they didn't want to be in Iraq and they didn't want to do nothing in the war on terrorism. So they went to Afghanistan.
Now that Iraq is getting a little better, that calculus is shifted.
I was in Germany and the Netherlands a couple of months ago and number of diplomats said to me, you know, we're worried, because under the Bush administration we could just say look, our population won't stand for it and that was our excuse. But now people like the Obama administration and we don't have that excuse anymore and we're worried that the Americans are going to take a conciliatory and collaborative attitude and then we'll have to provide more.
And I said, well, why are you worried about, you know, providing more, and I think that's the real nub of the issue is -- that NATO sees -- as Ambassador Dobbins says NATO sees the Afghan activity as an alliance activity. It's about preserving alliance with the United States. It doesn't see a very substantial threat to its own national security from events in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. I think the British are an exception to that because they have a very substantial south Asian population and they do see a domestic threat if they don't deal with the situation. But a lot of other countries are thinking about pulling out because they don't --
SEN. KERRY: Are they missing something? Are they missing something in that?
COL. KILCULLEN: I think they are. I mean, I think there are --
SEN. KERRY: Describe what you think they're missing and what's at stake?
COL. KILCULLEN: Well, I think one of the -- one of the obvious things -- (inaudible) -- you know, if we allow another al Qaeda sanctuary to emerge in -- in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, Europe is going to be a much more likely target than the United States, and I think Europeans recognize that in the security services. But a lot of Europeans don't really fully understand the impact of that.
Another very important thing is just regional instability and the effect that that can have on the world economy, energy flows, and markets, and that could have a very substantial negative effect on our European partners. And again, finally -- and this is more of a moral argument -- that we all stood together in the Bonn Agreement and we promised the Afghan people that we would stand by them, and I think that promise has to mean something otherwise the credibility of the international community, particularly the West and OSCE countries, becomes compromised.
SEN. KERRY: Well, with respect to this standing by them, and again, Jim, jump in or Kirsten and anybody who wants to but with respect to the standing by them issue, I understand Sarah told me the other day that she met with some 20 tribal leaders and did a survey of them a number of years ago -- well, when we went in. One hundred percent -- every single one of them -- were pro us, pro-government --
MS. CHAYES: Oh, that was just the general population. That wasn't --
SEN. KERRY: That was general population?
MS. CHAYES: Yes, general population. Everyone.
SEN. KERRY: I know somebody -- I can't remember exactly who I was talking to the other day who was describing these 20 specific leaders but you're talking general population. Now, 100 percent when they canvassed those tribal leaders -- 100 percent. There wasn't one person there who was supportive, and in the case of Sarah she says that she has noticed a complete reversal in Kandahar and elsewhere in the country that we're -- we're, you know, we're just completely 180 from where we were a number of years ago.
So in the context of sort of, quote, "staying there", can you turn this around? I mean, are -- have we created a dynamic? You know, some people have argued that the tipping point was last year -- that we may be behind that curve now. Can you turn this around sufficiently that people understand who we're there for and that we're actually a positive force for the goals that we're trying to achieve?
COL. KILCULLEN: We -- (inaudible) -- there, we all talk to tribal leaders quite a lot and I think --
SEN. KERRY: Do you agree with the assessment, first of all?
COL. KILCULLEN: Well, more or less. I think we -- I think we've certainly suffered a pretty significant collapse of popular support in the last year, in 13 months. But let me recount a conversation with tribal leaders from an areas that's run by a European country, and they said to me look, we want American troops to protect us, and if we can't have American troops protecting us then we want the Afghan army, and if we can't have the Afghan army then give us weapons ourselves and we'll do the job. And if you can't have any of those then we'll take the Afghan police. Please don't leave us at the mercy of those -- that European power that's looking after (their ?) area.
So there's a -- I think some Afghans do draw a distinction between the United States and the rest in this. But I think that the critical thing this year is the elections. It can either be a circuit breaker that restores legitimacy and credibility for the effort or it can be the last nail in the coffin where people say, this is (shot ?) -- we're not going to -- we're not going to support this anymore. I think this is a critical event.
AMB. DOBBINS: Mr. Chairman, I -- one of the things that's really depressing as I listen to all this is that we've talked all -- we've talked all around it but haven't really talked about it and that is the corruption in the government. I don't -- I don't know how anything can be resolved here until that's resolved. It seems to me that if there is a culture of corruption and the people are chasing the almighty dollar without any reference to the rule of law or the common good, I don't see how anything gets resolved there, and I don't know what the answer to that is but obviously the government leads its country.
If the country doesn't rise up in indignation and throw out the corruption it goes on and on. So I -- I find it very depressing to hear about the corruption and really no plan and -- and no likelihood that it's going to change at all. If it doesn't change, I think the more money you put in there the more corruption you wind up with and the more difficulty that you have. So I -- I find that very troubling listening to all this.
MR. GHANI: May I take -- may I take the --
MS. CHAYES: Can I -- (inaudible) -- this question?
SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.)
MS. CHAYES: Along the lines of what we were talking about previously about agricultural opportunities, what Ashraf had told me earlier is that one of the problems is because of the corruption and because of the violence that even if you do have a legal crop it's very difficult to get your legal crop to market because the Ring Road is not protected. So could you address, Ashraf, the --
MR. GHANI: Sure.
MS. CHAYES: -- the issue of corruption and also how it will affect the ability to offer solutions that we talked about in terms of replacement crops?
MR. GHANI: Senator, let me give couple of examples of noncorruption and what the impact of that is. We had one -- Afghanistan had 100 mobile phones in 2002 July. It has 7.5 million phones now. It's all provided by the private sector. The phone -- the communication -- the telecom sector is become the largest contributor of revenue for the government outside Customs all because the licenses were awarded transparency and to a noncorrupt process.
Second, national solidarity. There is a -- (inaudible) -- program that is covered -- covering 90 percent of the villages in Afghanistan and it's provided 20,000 (thousand dollars) to $60,000 in block grants to villages. Over $600 million has gone to these villages. And again, the degree of accountability and transparency has been remarkably high. It's been surveyed repeatedly. Senator Levin and Durbin went to visit personally have spoken about it.
The -- and I could -- the national army, again, has been conducted largely free of corruption. So it's not inherently (in the situation ?) that people have a culture of corruption. It's been a series of choices that have been made and that flows essentially from choice of 300 individuals to whom all the high-ranking offices of the government have been confined. When -- when one province rises in disdain they are simply shifted to another location.
MS. CHAYES: Exactly. Uh-huh.
MR. GHANI: Legitimacy still is extremely important in Afghanistan. There has not been a single time that President Karzai's edict regarding change (of a ?) government has been resisted. Not once. It can change at will any government -- governor because governors are appointed civil servants. So it comes to the mechanisms. When I was in the Ministry of Finance -- I mean, Customs, which is one of the most difficult, was reformed within one year. Treasury, et cetera.
So we must have a roadmap, and my assurance based on having talked to tens of thousands of individuals I find in various parts of the country is that the population is now about 10 miles ahead of the government in demanding accountability and transparency. The resistance does not come from the population. So if a partnership were developed what we've called for is a double compact where the international community, like the commission in Taiwan, becomes one component of a joint governance arrangement, and the population provides other mechanisms or voice and accountability. This is really the way.
As far as Senator's questions regarding Ring Road, security was judged by NATO in terms of security of NATO personnel --
MS. CHAYES: Exactly.
MR. GHANI: -- not in terms of security of the -- (inaudible) -- and that's the key insight -- (inaudible) -- has contributed so much. So the Ring Road really is emblematic. If we secured the Ring Road, not just its psychological impact but economic and political impact would be enormous. So completely I think we should work on mechanisms -- and there's a variety of mechanisms -- to ensure that we project authority to the Ring Road.
AMB. DOBBINS: Could I just say something to put the corruption issue in a little bit of perspective? It's hard to speak in defense of corruption or minimize it, particularly after our first person account such as Sarah's, but I can remember in the late 90s I was responsible for reconstruction in Bosnia and I was brought up here frequently to hear complaints about the levels of corruption in Bosnia, which were extraordinarily high. And there was a feeling then as there is now that it was so bad that it was hopeless -- that this was a morass that you just -- it was money down a rat hole.
The fact is, however, looking back is that the economic reconstruction in Bosnia is the most successful post-conflict reconstruction in the last 60 years and by that I mean that Bosnia achieved levels of economic growth that were much higher than Germany and Japan after the Second World War or any of a couple of dozen other post-conflict reconstruction cases, and sustained those higher levels of economic growth after all the aid stopped. Aid stopped essentially around 2000. Bosnia has still grown faster than any other state in the Balkans. So, you know, I mean, I think --
SEN. KERRY: Well, do you think -- I mean, the obvious question begged by what you're saying is is Afghanistan anywhere near replicating the Bosnia experience, and can it?
AMB. DOBBINS: Well, Afghanistan has had fairly significant rates of economic growth but I'm not -- I'm not -- I don't want to be Pollyannaish about this. I just want to suggest that it's not necessarily hopeless as Ashraf was suggesting.
SEN. KERRY: Well, I think everybody here --
MS. CHAYES: We're all suggesting it's not --
MR. GHANI: -- has been one of the -- Afghanistan ranked 117 on transparency internationally in 2005. It ranks 176 now. I do not know worldwide of any similar rapid fall and it's not the external judgment. It's what Sarah is describing on a daily basis. The government is being perceived as predatory and you cannot fight a counter insurgency. In Bosnia, you did not have an insurgency on your hands. In Afghanistan, in an environment of a (rapid ?) insurgency unless the government stands for order in the governance and a vision that is capable of governing it will lose that -- the -- (inaudible). So it is not a moral argument alone regarding corruption. It is inherently a political insecurity argument.
SEN. KERRY: If I -- (inaudible) -- that story. Go ahead.
MS. CHAYES: Can I -- sorry. I just want to wade in on your NATO question which is to say that I actually think, again, what we've (begged ?) a little bit is the role of civilians. I think there is a general consensus that we need more civilians in this mix and here's where I would disagree slightly with David about the mentoring model. In fact, I've seen ETTs -- the embedded mentors in the Afghan National Army -- and their European counterparts precisely they do go outside the base and they are embedded in those Afghan National Army units and that more -- I agree with you on part --
COL. KILCULLEN: It can only be in one place at a time.
MS. CHAYES: Sorry?
COL. KILCULLEN: It can only be in one place at a time.
MS. CHAYES: I agree with you on partnering. What I'm trying to say is don't -- you don't need to make them exclusive. What's been very useful is mentoring and partnering and what I would urge -- I have watched the ANA be transformed through the embedded mentoring of U.S. and international military officers, and what I would submit is that why is it harder to be a lieutenant in the Afghan army than it is to be a mayor or a governor or a head of public health on a provincial level.
And what I would really -- if I were President Obama in addressing the NATO summit in April, or maybe you do this beforehand, I would put a pitch to our NATO allies that, you know, we -- we actually understand your capacity constraints and your public opinion issues and your constitutional constraints in terms of providing combat forces.
We need more combat forces and you make that pitch but in a more respectful way, I think, than it's been made in the past, and then you say those of you you tap into just what David is saying in terms of the difference in public opinion in Europe and you say, what we really need -- what you guys really need to know how to do -- what -- what Europe knows how to do very well is run cities, is run power departments, is run, you know. So we would like to have a kind of service initiative so it wouldn't be Foreign Service officers because then they are constrained to the PRTs and can't get out amongst the population.
SEN. KERRY: Different level of partnering.
MS. CHAYES: Right. That's right. You bring them in to mentor these civilian officials and I think this is something that would prove very interesting and -- and attractive to European -- our European allies and -- and would be incredibly beneficial.
COL. KILCULLEN: I think -- I mean, I wasn't suggesting we don't do mentoring -- (inaudible).
MS. CHAYES: I know. I know. I'm just -- right. Right.
SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible) -- if I can I want everybody to sort of make a summary comment if you would in a moment but I want one last question before we do that. Clearly, one of the major impacts on Afghanistan has been the free flow of Taliban, al Qaeda, others across the border, back and forth. Ken (ph), you've properly posed the question about the dangers to Pakistan and a number of us have said for a long time that you really can't resolve Afghanistan without also resolving Pakistan. You can't resolve Pakistan without also resolving Afghanistan, and these are really twin challenges.
One may be slightly higher priority for various reasons than another but nevertheless critical. That said, can Pakistan continue to be a country that doesn't have control of its own country? Can you have a FATA and a Fallujahstan (ph), Waziristan, et cetera, where they literally have great difficulty being able to assert any kind of national control where there's a complete capacity and that is why Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda are in the northwest --
COL. KILCULLEN: I'm going to pick that up. I mean, I think the most valuable thing we can do -- it's very difficult but the most valuable thing we can do is to help the Pakistani government assert control over its own government structure, its own territory, and its own population, and it doesn't have any of those three things now. There's a village called Damidalah (ph) up in Bajaur Agency which we attacked with -- (inaudible) -- in January 2006. You might remember that -- that strife.
Now, Churchill's book from 1897 talks about blowing that very village up in 1897. So Western powers have been blowing up these people for 115 years, minimum. You know, no wonder they don't like us very much. Going in there and striking villages doesn't help you. Helping the Pakistani government extend its control is difficult but it's very, very important.
SEN. KERRY: And I assume you believe that that is not a military operation as much as it is a --
COL. KILCULLEN: USAID, it's state, it's other partners outside the government, it's a -- it's a social societal institution issue more than the military. But the military needs -- both in Afghanistan and Pakistan needs to redefine its role away from targeting the bad guys towards acting as an enabler to allow civilians to deliver good governance and accountability to the population and that involves protection, and that's a -- that's a fundamental mental shift.
SEN. KERRY: That is -- that is also one of the key shifts that we're trying to insert into this Pakistan assistance legislation --
COL. KILCULLEN: Right.
SEN. KERRY: -- is to try to encourage that as significantly as possible.
AMB. DOBBINS: There is another question which is whether Afghanistan can legitimately expect Pakistan to control the border that Afghanistan refuses to recognize, and the -- the disputed nature of that border is a complicating factor along with the special nature of the border regime on the Pakistani side. And I think a longer-term objective has to be to regularize that border, to have it internationally recognized by Afghanistan and guaranteed by all of the other neighboring states, and to get Pakistan and Afghanistan to work on a border regime that maximizes trade and other legitimate contacts while continuing to control and channel cross-border communications in ways that control insurgency.
SEN. KERRY: Let me ask each of you if you would to just give your own summary of what you think you've either learned or want to leave us with for the morning and we'd appreciate it. This is a conversation, needless to say, that doesn't end by any sense of the imagination. This is scratching at the surface. But I do think it's been a really interesting framing of some of the critical issues and choices we have to face and I think has -- has perhaps been able to lay it out with some exchanges that we don't normally get in these hearings. So anyway, you went first before -- why don't you wrap up and we'll -- we'll turn around and go the opposite way? Ambassador?
AMB. DOBBINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I mean, I've had my say and I won't repeat anything. I just would like to say that I did find this -- I learned more from this session than I do from most congressional hearings and I hope others felt that way as well. I think that the give and take and the selection of -- of witnesses has been for me very illuminating.
SEN. KERRY: Well, it's great to hear and I appreciate it. Thank you. Sarah?
MS. CHAYES: I guess just to reemphasize again that governance really is the issue -- that I think it would be a mistake to over -- over emphasize the tribal nature of Afghan society and think that, you know, what we need to do is basically govern through tribal structures. Every Afghan I talk to is looking -- look to us. That's why we were greeted with such enthusiasm. Wow, you guys, the United States, you're the ones with a transparent accountable responsive government. You can bring us that, not tainted by extremism. And there are mechanisms we need to move quite quickly and rather intrusively in the short run to redress some of the grievances that Afghan population has with the predators that -- that they are suffering from.
SEN. KERRY: Colonel?
COL. KILCULLEN: Well, see, my expertise is counter insurgency and I hesitate to use the Vietnam analogy, partly because it doesn't quite apply but also because some other people here had personal experience in Vietnam and I didn't.
But, you know, what this situation looks to me like is Vietnam under Dien (sp).
MS. CHAYES: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: Vietnam what?
COL. KILCULLEN: Under Dien (sp).
MS. CHAYES: Exactly.
COL. KILCULLEN: And we need to be very careful about that. We have a state that's weak, that's suffering problems of legitimacy and effectiveness, and we have a leader who's tainted by the corruption of his family and by a loss of legitimacy, but he's our guy and so we feel like we can't own the problem. We need to own it.
And if you think about what we did in Vietnam, we escalated, we overthrew that leader, we took control of the problem, we tried to fix it and we couldn't fix it -- couldn't afford it. And I just think we need to be extremely careful about signing ourselves up to escalating to the point where we can't pull back. And I think that we need to work with the structures we have, work with the Afghan people and the Afghan government and not think that we will just get in there and take over and make it ours because once you own the problem, you own it.
SEN. KERRY: I'm going to break the rhythm here just -- but it's in the spirit of this process, so I just want to ask a question. Is the military -- is our increase of military troops -- is it important to use them in some components of the narcotics effort? Is it imperative to use them in that?
COL. KILCULLEN: If you'd asked me this two years ago I would have said that we had a big role in eradication. I've changed my mind on that because the environment has shifted. One of the biggest changes in the last year is vertical integration where instead of just growing poppy, they're now actually producing heroin in country. And I think the biggest payoff that we could have is in the interdiction field because the farmers are already paid, the poppies are already grown; no one gets upset. You know, 1,000 tons of poppy boils down to -- I don't know how much it is but it's 100 kilos or so of heroin and it moves on a convoy that's protected by corruption, and the only people you're hurting by this -- by interdicting that convoy are the corrupt officials and the enemy. So I think focusing on interdiction is potentially a useful military role. But I think we should be careful about collateral damage and about striking innocent people. We need to focus on, you know, hitting drug labs and drug convoys on focusing on the heroin trade now.
SEN. KERRY: Mr. Ashraf Ghani.
MR. GHANI: Thank you. The first thing is to express enormous appreciation to you for opening both the Senate and this particular style of exchange. I've really learned and want to underline that.
Some key messages: First, governance is the central issue; two, the urgency of time; three, a second chance has been opened to a very clear diagnosis of the problem. As Ambassador Dobbins said, last year reviews have been very good in laying the foundation that the -- what the problem. The key challenge now is to arrive at a focused strategy that puts realistical, achievable targets. And that I think, in my judgment, means a medium-term framework of 10 years where problems are classified -- first order of priority, second order of priority, third order of priority. There has to be discipline.
Because the situation is so difficult, progress actually is easier to achieve. It may sound ironic but it is not because the population wants to see momentum. The key asset on the ground is the Afghan public. Contrary to those judgments that hundred percent have turned against the United States, what I see, and I've seen routinely -- thousands of people in every month. It is more that -- a sense of engagement has been broken. It is not loss of love, not loss of a fundamental trust in the capacity.
They expected -- the Afghan population expected the U.S. image to become the reality of U.S. performance on the ground. So I think regaining trust through very focused momentum is really possible. And part of this is now the narrative of counterterror versus the narrative of counterinsurgency.
MS. CHAYES: Yes. Yes.
MR. GHANI: If the United States adopts, as you have been arguing, a larger framework of counterinsurgency where people are put at the center, there will be a fundamental shift, and that shift would pay multiple dividends because if 1,000 terrorists are to be secured, they can be secured through intelligence. The heavy use of force -- force in Afghan culture is -- use of force in Afghan culture is a sign of weakness, not strength, because we have many mechanisms to avoid use of force and then to deal with it. So that type of a strategic focus.
Because of this, I think the possibility of a joint partnership -- the problem has to be owned and articulated and the solutions have to be articulated by Afghans. That possibility is really there. And in terms of the election -- last comment -- this is going to be the pivotal transformative event of the year. And that means a level playing field.
The current capabilities of the UN and other international organizations is very low in terms of guaranteeing a relatively free and fair -- and my emphasis is on relatively free and fair -- and that means a lot of investment has to take place in the political dimension this year to ensure that whatever leadership emerges has the legitimacy to lead during a very difficult time.
Last observation. Afghanistan and Pakistan are joined at the hip. It requires a regional approach, and I welcome the appointment of Ambassador Holbrooke. With that kind of -- (inaudible) -- your own travels to the region and continued engagement, and the Kerry-Lugar bill -- (laughs) -- both for Afghanistan and Pakistan. So thank you.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you very, very much. Biden will get his chunk of it when the president signs it. (Laughter.)
Let me just say -- I wanted to ask you one question on that, and then a quick summary. But on the elections piece, I was deeply involved -- in fact it was my first initiative here on this committee when I came as a freshman senator, was the Philippines and the effort there to dislodge Marcos and change the Philippines -- the rise of Gloria Aquino. And we played a very central role in the empowerment of the national movement for a free Philippines and the oversight of those elections.
In fact I was there in the Philippines during that election and played a role in exposing the fraud that was taking place. So I think we've learned a lot about how to engage our -- the Republican Institute and the Democratic Institute and others in this effort, and I will commit today -- I hear the message. I get it. I think it's critical that we make sure that that process is as open and accountable as possible. And clearly those elections -- Ambassador, I think you were saying it, and everybody -- are going to be central to the legitimacy and viability of what flows afterwards. So we need to focus on that, and we will focus on that.
The -- just in terms of the heavy use of force issue that you cited, I know that when I was last there I became aware of videos that are being circulated. You can buy them for a dollar, and they're pretty gruesome. They're pretty -- you know, they're a good terror tactic. And the numbers of beheadings that those videos depict and the beheadings themselves have risen. And the use of force by the Taliban itself to terrorize people and to spread their word has increased. What's the counter to that when you don't have sufficient numbers of people -- I ask you both, quickly -- to be able to sufficiently give the population a sense of security and a willingness to take your side? I remember that tactic pretty starkly from my experience in Vietnam where, you know, in the daytime we'd be around and doing this or that, but at nighttime, people would come in and the chief's head would wind up on a stake in the middle of the village the next morning, and the message to everybody is, hey, these guys don't protect you and you're not safe. And that is obviously what is going on. It's a classic insurgent tactic.
COL. KILCULLEN: Your preferred option is to protect the population with your own troops. When you don't have those troops available, which is the case in Afghanistan, you are forced to the difficult choice of self-protecting populations. I'm not talking about arming militias; I'm talking about something akin to the combined action platoons of Vietnam, where you might have, for example, a special forces operational detachment Alpha living in a village with, let's say 100 or 150 local people, working with them as a neighborhood watch, eyes and ears, providing an alerting system, and some kind of overwatch provided by a larger unit that might be in the provincial capital. That structure is hard to execute. It does involve a fairly significant amount of violence, but it tends to be violence against the enemy because they expose themselves to come and attack you, rather than violence against the population.
It's not a good choice, and I fully accept Ashraf's objections to it. But if you do want to do it and you don't have enough troops to do it yourself, you are left with something like that as an option.
MS. CHAYES: May I --
SEN. KERRY: Last word -- no. Last word.
MR. GHANI: One-third of Afghans live in the cities. If one focused on property rights and giving the people clear -- crystal clear valid property rights in the city of Kabul and other cities and arrived at the program of urban development that is similar to our program of national solidarity and rule of the government, we wouldn't -- we would radically remove the use of force. The cities are the center of political thinking, and one-third of the population is there for the taking.
Second, the north, southwest and the center are peaceful, but it's the peace before the storm. Very little investment in these regions can shift the ground and deny them to the insurgency. So that would be the second component.
Third, all the south is not of one cloth, south and east. Three to four provinces in the east, with focused development, as the eastern command has demonstrated in Kandahar, can really be changed. So I think one has to break the problem. A certain component in the south is a three- to five-year proposition. But the key thing in an environment of insurgency and counterinsurgency a sense of direction.
Today the sense of direction is wrong. If we regain the momentum then it can be sequenced, and I think the trust of the population will increase as they see. Because of that I, for instance, proposed in August to President Karzai and Kai Eide, the special representative, let's take some provinces -- two in the north, one in the center, one in the southwest and in the south -- and really focus on seeing how they become models. Today it's Helmand. People from Helmand come and say, "We are going to lay down our arms. Do we become like the capital city of Kabul?" They would laugh at the government's arrangement of Kabul.
So I think the opportunity really to demonstrate momentum is very much there, and because of that it can become much more realistic.
SEN. KERRY: Well, I thank you. This has been very informative and I think very important to helping the committee frame some of the things we need to look at further and some of the questions we will continue to ask.
We -- this record will be made available. I think we should actually make it available to Mr. Kai Eide, who I met with when I was over there, and I think we should make it available, obviously, to State and DOD, and hopefully it will be helpful to them. But I'm confident that this is just the beginning of our effort to try to formulate a sensible approach and to hopefully work together in partnership with the administration to get this right. It's that critical to all of us that we do so.
So I'm very grateful to all of you for a very informative and engaged morning and a first go-round, if you will, of this way of sort of digging into some of these issues. And we thank you, and we'll continue to stay in touch with all of you, and we wish you good luck. Thank you.
We stand adjourned.