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Rebuilding Afghanistan: Fantasy versus Reality

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An unrealistic Western reconstruction program for Afghanistan is emerging even as the war continues. The international community is calling for the creation of a democratic, secular state, but it is also clearly not willing to provide a large military force to help build it. Given the extreme fragmentation and militarization of Afghan society, democratic reconstruction cannot possibly work. Instead, we need to devise a more modest and realistic program, aimed at creating peace and restoring basic economic functions rather than rebuilding the entire state. Furthermore, to minimize competition for control of the central government, and to give warlords a vested interest in maintaining peace, most international aid should be channeled directly to Afghan regions.