Alexander, a former UN deputy special representative in Afghanistan, offers his view of the pathway to a resolution in that nation.
The author proposes a regional solution to the ongoing conflict, one in which both Afghanistan and Pakistan both become “subject to international supervision” as part of a settlement—a “Central Asian version of the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia.” Alexander devotes significant attention to the source of the present conflict, Britain's 19th-century strategic “great game” against Russia, and Pakistan's adaption of the tradition to its own purposes through backing Afghanistan's Taliban and other surrogate terrorists. The components of a possible regional agreement are identified in Afghanistan's 2005-6 bilateral treaties with the U.S., UK, EU, China and Pakistan, and in the March 2009 opium interdiction program adopted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the very same day Obama announced his strategic review of Afghanistan policy. Whether such an agreement can be achieved, by way of the destruction of what Alexander calls the “shadow government” of Afghanistan inside Pakistan border provinces, without resulting in the outbreak of another full-scale war in the area or further aggravating relations between Pakistan and India, is questionable. In the meantime, the author is an enthusiastic advocate of the adoption of long-term visions along with benchmarks for their achievement in such areas as the management of the Afghan government's finances and the development of food exports through private enterprise. He is also a supporter of World Bank counterinsurgency investment through the “National Solidarity Programme” estimated to produce 20 percent per annum returns.
A controversial account that provides much historical background, along with special insight into current developments.