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Resolving the Afghan Conundrum

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But one common element ties them together. And that is Afghan currency. Despite the notorious hospitality of the tribes, which keeps them from cashing in on the multi million dollar bounty on Al Quaeda and Taliban members in their midst, they still do value currency as the means to conduct their affairs. Currency buys and sells weapons, drugs, livestock, and loyalty among the tribes, and without it their mobility, armed bodyguards, and general well being are severely limited. This fact affords a leverage not otherwise possible in this barren land. Using a carrot and stick approach, manipulation of the currency can influence the warlords into getting with the program which, in the end, is to establish an evolving republic structure that will one day afford the average citizen full rights, freedoms and responsibilities.

This is not pie in the sky. It is simply a goal, unreachable at the moment but definitely attainable if the right moves are made at the right time.

Herewith, a proposal to bring this about:

a) Partition Afghanistan into a federation of states, each based on either the domain of a local warlord, or the tribal boundaries, in the case of large areas such as those the Pashtuns control. This process must be negotiated among the entities involved, and a blueprint for initial negotiations must be created by experts on Afghan culture, savvy politicians who do not favor a particular player in this game(if there are such animals--usually there are one or two), Afghan bankers, and representatives of the Allied and Afghan militaries. British military officials are probably the best Allied members to recruit for this venture as they come from a tradition of empire and have historically viewed local conflicts with cold-eyed realism, but other allies should be kept in the loop during negotiations.

b) Name each of the states after the current warlord in charge if they are determined to be vigorous and not soon to retire or die and--this is most important--issue separate currencies in their name. There is a precedent for this in our own history: the colonies initially conceived of their union as one of convenience for opposing the crown--even issuing their own currencies in the form of colonial scrip individual to each colony before the revolution and apparently conducting successful trade amongst themselves using these different currencies. And the ensuing states had far more power than currently.

c) Each currency is to be issued with the name and visage of the local honcho running the territory prominently displayed on all coins and bills. Although separate, each will denominate the same way--pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars in a decimal configuration--to foster trade between the states.

d) Despite this ego boost, each state governor/warlord is to accept this arrangement with the understanding that members of his immediate family cannot succeed him. He can transfer power, but not to one of his own, and not to one of the neighboring states. Furthermore--and this is most important--each governor will spend one month out of each year rotating into a governorship of a neighboring state as remote as possible from his own, so that in a period of,say, ten years, he will have participated in the running of all the other states. During this one month period, he will have all the power and responsibilities the man he is succeeding had, as will the man who assumes his own mantle. This will nurture a sense of union that is essential if this is to work. Any individual who would abuse this rotation system runs the risk of having his own satrapy equally abused.

(It is possible this rotation system could also be used to determine succession. When one satrap dies, a leader is chosen by lottery from non-leadership positions in one of the other states. This idea has bugs, but is worth exploring.)

e) A central government in Kabul is formed with few responsibilities other than overseeing interstate infrastructure such as roads, power distribution, etc. and fielding an army drawn from each of the states. A president/prime minister handles all foreign affairs, appointing ambassadors, etc. The army is essentially funded and controlled by a yearly loya jirga of warlords, with the jirga also having final approval of all treaties. Army generalships rotates yearly between tribes with the underlying corps of lieutenants and field officers retaining their positions without rotation. This will foster continuity of competence while avoiding abuse from the upper echelons.

f) A separate legislative body corresponding roughly to our house of representatives is chosen by state wide lotteries every three years from the population of anyone not related to a warlord. This body has the responsibility to enforce a simple constitution, detailed in the next paragraph, and includes women and people of all creeds and backgrounds. At some point a couple of decades hence, this body will be elected.

g) The constitution mandates equal treatment for women and minorities and all creeds in all states and empowers the HR body to enforce it by giving them ultimate control over currency approvals for each state. In other words, any state that transgresses this mandate can have its currency devalued or substituted with another state's currency.

h) The HR body appoints an official to oversee the state lotteries and set minimum standards for schools,police and fire departments, which is funded and run by the individual states. Most of these will be initially very primitive.

i) The HR body can also direct the president to use the army to put down a rogue state, or one that is either ignoring the constitution or threatening its neighbor states. This will have to be done with the consent of the other warlords in the loya jirga, but shouldn't be a problem if they themselves feel threatened.

j) To get the general population into voting mode, referendums are held yearly on interstate issues such as food safety, and road placement. A separate HR appointed official oversees referendums.

k) A supreme court nominated by the warlord body has its edicts enforced in the HR body, which directs the President to act. Each state has its own separate court system, which will try individuals arrested in neighboring states but not in its own boundaries. This cuts down on the human rights abuses of which the warlords are so fond. They are themselves be above the law except that the loya jirga can discipline one of its members if a 2/3 majority agrees.

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JEFFREY MACKENZIE Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Jeffrey MacKenzie is an architect who has an abiding interest in international affairs and in the peaceful resolution of conflicts. "I have come to realize the role money plays in forces that move nations. The growth model for international (more...)
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Resolving the Afghan Conundrum

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