Two weeks ago I blogged some meandering thoughts on “government-in-a-box,” a neologism for the “hold, build” part of international forces’ counterinsurgency strategy of “clear, hold, build” in the Afghan town of Marja. I concluded that perhaps the contents of the box, at the time shrouded in mystery, were irrelevant and that the strategy was wrong headed from the get-go.
It seems the U.S. and its local viceroys — the regional, provincial and local government officials appointed by the occupation-supported government in Kabul — also lost their interest in the particulars. If not, perhaps they would have better vetted their appointee in their “showcase city,” as the New York Times put it (never mind that it’s a “city” of less than 50,000). The Times says today that:
News reports in the Western media say that Hajji Abdul Zahir, the newly appointed district chief of Marja, served jail time in Germany on charges of stabbing his stepson. Mr. Zahir… denied the reports to other media.
…A NATO spokesman in Kabul, speaking on behalf of Mark Sedwill, the senior NATO civilian official in Kabul… quoted Mr. Sedwill as saying, “This country is not going to be run by choir boys.”
The article says that local Afghans don’t care about his “family problems” either, as a former Taliban turned district chief of a nearby area characterized Zahir’s apparent filicidal attempt. The locals just want good governance. I’m curious to see how this “government-in-a-box” — complete with paper trail — works out. But if I was disgruntled Afghan, hoping for order, services, and justice, I wouldn’t be holding my breath.