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Canadian Military Journal

Combating Corruption in Afghanistan

Daniel R. Green
Daniel R. Green
Abstract :

One of the central goals of counter-insurgent forces is to secure the loyalty and support of the population to their government through good governance and positive administration. Official corruption strikes at the heart of this objective, and, if unchecked, can slowly erode the support of the people to the point where they no longer defend the government against insurgent incursions, or, more ominously, join with the insurgents to fight the state. But corruption does not just manifest itself in bribes to government officials; it also takes the form of arbitrary killings, theft, abuse, neglect, and the appropriation of public property for private purposes, among other offenses. In Afghanistan, the struggle against corruption has taken on renewed importance as part of a comprehensive strategy to defeat the insurgency. Even though the Taliban certainly committed many of these same abuses when they were in power, the memories of the Afghan population with respect to this period have been colored by their recent experiences with the Afghan state. Faced with a government that has all-to-frequently ‘turned a blind eye’ to the depredations of warlords, and has done little to stop official corruption, some elements of the Afghan population have begun to reluctantly turn to the Taliban as a source of justice, and as a means of addressing past wrongs. But any anti-corruption effort must recognize that corruption is not simply a law enforcement activity, but it has political, economic, and tribal aspects to it that must simultaneously be addressed. The key challenge for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in implementing an anti-corruption plan is striking a balance between the limiting nature of Afghan sovereignty and their uncertain commitment to anti-corruption efforts, and our responsibilities to the Afghan people as their military and diplomatic partner. This article will set forth several pragmatic solutions for addressing the corruption challenge of Afghanistan, informed by our experiences there, and enriched by the best practices of previous counter-insurgency efforts.

Keywords :
Combating Corruption in Afghanistan

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 10:05

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 10:30

Official URL:

Volume 12, Number 1, - 2012

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