In the Washington Post today there is an interesting article on the "controversial" approach of training villagers as basic militias. The idea is to let them secure their neighborhoods and provide a counterbalance to the Taliban. What caught my eye was this quote,
"At the end of the day, how sustainable would a program like this be?" said a State Department official based in Kabul, who like other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal disputes. "It runs counter to the goal of giving the state a monopoly of force."
Our goal is to give the state a monopoly on force? My understanding is that Afghanistan, by and large, is tribal, with a tough terrain and almost infinitely complex communications (transportation) problems. I understand that the Afghans who are willing to pick up a gun are a tough independent sort. Are we really thinking that centralizing power, or as they put it, giving the state a monopoly of force, will work well here? Has AFG ever been a country with a strong central government? It just doesn't sound like a very smart goal.