17 August 2008

NGO in Afghanistan Concerned with Civil-Military Involvement

ISAF Soldier Engaged in Soft Power

Taliban thugs murdered four workers for the IRC NGO just south of Kabul in a brutal attack. AP has the story, and it was surprising to see that the director of the NGO cast doubt on military involvement in civil affairs, which can be rationalized to say the Taliban will target Westerners regardless of their military status:

The two IRC officials said they were concerned that international militaries are taking on humanitarian projects, potentially blurring the lines in the eyes of locals or militants between what humanitarian groups do and what the military does.

NATO militaries carry out reconstruction projects throughout the country.

"There are very real ethical and operational concerns that arise from the confusion between humanitarian and political and military objectives," Donnelly said.

This type of logic would assume that the Taliban followed Geneva Convention restrictions about attacking humanitarian workers, which they obviously don't. Also, this line of thinking could be poisonous between civilian and military cooperation, since both sides could blame each other for not fulfilling their mission, when they are both dependent on each other. The State Department is the logical arbiter to bridge the communication gap when it comes to improving stability in Afghanistan, but the Foreign Service has not been adequately increased to meet this challenge. The Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan is an important mission to improve governance, infrastructure, and self-reliance and both civilian and military members on the ground in Afghanistan will hopefully find new methods to improve its effectiveness.