Fighting the Taliban

Saturday, September 5, 2009

U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has wisely refocused on
protecting Afghans rather than killing Taliban and increasing the resources for
training and equipping Afghan solders and policemen (vastly cheaper than
financing additional NATO forces, though they will be needed for a while as
well). This means exposing NATO solders to increased risks as they hunt down
the Taliban in order to reduce the prospects of killing innocent civilians.
General support of the population is obviously essential if the NATO backed
government is to gain and maintain control of the country.

Thus the apparent death of about 70 Afghanis, which may have
included a significant number of civilians, in the northern city of Kunduz on
Friday seems a set back for the new strategy. The story reported here in Kabul
was that one of the two NATO fuel tanker truck hijacked by Taliban became stuck
crossing a river. The local villagers rushed to fill cans and bottles with the
fuel so that when German NATO troops in the area call for a U.S. air strike,
local villagers where killed along with many Taliban. According to an AP report
today it is still “unclear how many were militants and how many were villagers
who had rushed to the scene to siphon fuel from the trucks.”

I was discussing this with my Afghan driver on the way in to
the central bank this morning when he surprised me with the following comments
(as well as I can remember them): “Bombing that tanker and the Taliban was a
good thing. If villagers were killed along with Taliban they deserved it. Good
Muslims don’t steal – especially during Ramadan.” Ramadan is a month long
period for spiritual purification achieved through (day time) fasting,
self-sacrifice and prayers

The AP report goes on to say: “At least one local official
supported the allied bombing, saying it would help drive the insurgents from
the area. ‘If we did three more operations like we did yesterday morning, the
Kunduz situation would be peaceful and stable,’ said Ahmadullah Wardak, a
provincial council chief.”

I have no idea.

Author: Warren Coats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My recent books are One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina; My Travels in the Former Soviet Union; My Travels to Afghanistan; My Travels to Jerusalem; and My Travels to Baghdad. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.

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