Guilty Party: The International Community in Afghanistan
Graciana del Castillo
Recalling an unforgettable trip throughout Afghanistan in Nowroz 1978, only three weeks before the bloody communist coup d'état, the author uses places along the way to describe how foreign conquerors, nationalist policies, a variety of ethnicities and religions, and the Silk Route combined to mold present-day Afghanistan. Such places provided the stage for the famous battles of ancient and modern times, as they provided the different livelihoods of the afghan population that still lives mostly from agriculture and livestock production. Gripping accounts on the political and security transitions since 9/11 have not been matched by similar ones on the economic and social ones, which is the purpose of this book.
Based on what she saw in a more recent visit in 2011, the author explains to a general audience how misguided economic policies, misplaced priorities, and wasteful aid have led Afghanistan to an infamous record: the country not only relapsed into conflict but became the most aid-dependent country in the world. Muddling through, as in the past, is no longer an option as NATO troops withdraw and aid falls sharply. The author makes a proposal to help the country to move away from the vicious circle of insecurity, aid, drug and food dependency to a virtuous one of genuine investment, rural development, employment opportunities and improved livelihoods. The cost of the Afghan war-in terms of human lives and taxpayers' money-has been outrageous, and taxpayers should demand a debate among all stakeholders on how to move forward.