U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan
June 27th, 2014
09:05 AM ET

U.S. job far from done in Afghanistan

By Stephen J. Hadley and Kristin M. Lord, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Stephen J. Hadley is chairman of the board of the United States Institute of Peace and a former White House National Security Adviser. Kristin Lord is acting president of the United States Institute of Peace. The views expressed are their own.

As the United States draws down its forces in Afghanistan and shifts from direct combat to the narrower mission of countering terrorism and training Afghan forces, some might think this is the time to declare “job done” and focus U.S. attention elsewhere. That would be a mistake.  As the current violence in Iraq illustrates, the gains won by our military are fragile. Peace, once won, must be sustained.

Afghanistan is now in the delicate process of laying the foundation for a democratic political transition – the first since President Hamid Karzai assumed the presidency. As many as 7 million Afghans, or around 60 percent of eligible voters, have twice defied the Taliban and cast ballots to select the country’s next president, first in the general election and again in this month’s runoff.

The high turnout and lower level of violence than many had expected are a testament to how non-violent conflict resolution and peacebuilding can multiply and solidify the investments of the United States and the sacrifices made by American troops. The potential for international assistance to help resolve electoral disputes that have cropped up in the past week illustrates the need for continuing engagement.

Organizations like the United States Institute of Peace, which we both serve, have been helping create the conditions for a peaceful transition that will make Afghanistan more stable and less violent, while improving the lives of the Afghan people. A stable and prosperous Afghanistan can be a vital ally of the United States in a troubled region, and will help ensure that al Qaeda and its associates never again gain a foothold in the region’s mountains and valleys.

Investing in the powerful tools of peacebuilding is both effective and cost-effective, but peacebuilding takes time. Some of the best-spent dollars are those used to prevent or reduce conflicts that can engulf regions and threaten American interests, investments that foster strong allies and partners. We should heed the lessons of our experience in Germany and South Korea, where our unflagging, long-term commitments in the aftermath of war have established thriving partnerships with now-critical allies.

For the past several years, U.S. and other international organizations in Afghanistan have been supporting local institutions and civil society groups, working hand-in-hand to develop and employ innovative approaches that would help ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent election.

Afghans organized forums where women challenged presidential hopefuls on economic, political and social issues, and the country’s burgeoning media outlets promoted an almost non-stop run of televised candidate debates. At the grassroots level, activists organized poetry competitions that drew on treasured Afghan traditions, and ran a radio show to raise awareness about rule of law. There was even a rap video contest to devise an election anthem, and graffiti promoting a peaceful election, to engage the youth who are so important to the process and to Afghanistan’s future.

The Afghan-led efforts were underpinned by research, expertise and financial backing from the U.S. and other international donors. The outcome might help U.S. troops and their NATO-coalition partners to withdraw most of their military forces, as planned, with greater confidence that the gains won by more than a decade of fighting can be sustained.

Tools for preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict – national or interfaith dialogue, facilitation skills, multiparty negotiations, and education and training to build support for the rule of law are just a few – will become only more crucial as technology spreads and global power becomes more diffuse. And the costs of such tools are relatively modest. USIP’s recent annual congressional appropriations of about $35 million equals approximately the amount needed to field one light infantry rifle platoon in Afghanistan. Imagine what we could achieve with even more concerted efforts and funding for peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

Well-done and well-resourced, peacebuilding can help prevent the loss of American lives, enhance American security and preserve U.S. tax dollars, while relieving human suffering and demonstrating America’s commitment to peace. It maximizes other U.S. government investments in diplomacy, foreign assistance and the armed forces. It also strengthens local institutions around the world that can sustain long-term campaigns against deadly violence for decades after America’s investment ends.

Post by:
Topics: Afghanistan • United States

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Jesse Grillo

    Thanks for sharing this interesting write up with us. It is very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. I found this on Reddit Here's the thing, I love your posts.


    September 1, 2017 at 4:09 am |
  2. startup speaker

    I simply must tell you that your pages are great. Thanks for sharing this interesting article with us. Seasoned Google Plus pros would really like your page. I will bookmark this website.


    September 2, 2017 at 9:16 pm |
  3. Jesse Grillo

    A lot of things to take into consideration. A good article. Any team would be lucky to have you on it.


    September 4, 2017 at 3:09 am |
  4. tech speaker

    This information is magnificent. You have a lot of knowledge on this subject. Can you write more about this subject?


    September 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm |
  5. profvalue


    January 25, 2019 at 8:38 am |
  6. profvalue


    January 25, 2019 at 8:39 am |
  7. zortilo nrel

    I loved as much as you will obtain performed proper here. The cartoon is tasteful, your authored material stylish. however, you command get bought an shakiness over that you want be turning in the following. unwell surely come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot ceaselessly inside case you protect this increase.


    December 16, 2020 at 7:38 am |
  8. Pam Stdenis

    Good write-up, I?m normal visitor of one?s site, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a long time.


    December 20, 2020 at 7:05 pm |
  9. vreyrolinomit

    Regards for this marvellous post, I am glad I detected this site on yahoo.


    December 23, 2020 at 7:36 pm |
  10. zortilo nrel

    I have not checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂


    December 25, 2020 at 3:31 pm |
  11. froleprotrem

    Good article and straight to the point. I don't know if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to hire some professional writers? Thanks 🙂


    January 4, 2021 at 4:52 am |
  12. vreyrolinomit

    I have fun with, result in I found just what I used to be having a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye


    January 4, 2021 at 6:22 am |
  13. vreyrolinomit

    Thanks for some other informative site. Where else may just I am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect approach? I've a undertaking that I'm just now running on, and I have been at the glance out for such information.


    January 8, 2021 at 1:48 am |
  14. Coretta Hopfer


    January 10, 2021 at 6:53 am |
  15. Jerald Stoltzman


    January 11, 2021 at 2:08 am |
1 2

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.