Paul Fishstein (Harvard University, Research Fellow, Carr Center), 'Economic Policy, Markets and Afghan Society'
The liberal, free-market economic policy adopted by Afghanistan in 2002 represents a new orientation in a society, which historically relied on state-owned or mixed public-private enterprises. Many Afghans recall, however imperfectly, the pre-1978 era when the state created factories, infrastructure, and other job-creating modern assets; after the fall of the Taliban there was an expectation that the state would again be active in the economic sphere. While private sector growth has occurred in some sectors, it has been inadequate to create sufficient jobs and eliminate poverty. Afghanistan’s constraints to economic growth have been well documented, and include inconsistent enforcement of policies, weak infrastructure, insecurity, official corruption, lack of access to land and finance, and differential access to business opportunities based on political and military power. According to standard economic definitions, few markets in Afghanistan would be considered competitive. Research will look broadly at two different but related issues: characteristics of markets in Afghanistan and attitudes of Afghans towards the free market. The research will take a case study approach, focusing on markets for agricultural production and agri-business in small towns in the economic orbit of two major cities in two significant provinces, Mazar-e Sharif in Balkh and Jalalabad in Nangarhar. Studies at the national level hide dynamics of how local and regional markets operate, and therefore case studies of these markets can help to shed light on how markets actually work. Research is part of a larger program of research anticipated to run from March 2010 to June 2011.
Margaret Mills (Ohio State University, NELC): 'Index and Finding Aids for Mills Oral Narrative Collection On-line'
This project will construct an on-line index, finding aids and field note transcriptions for an extensive collection of 450 hours of Dari-language oral narrative recordings made in Heart, Kabul and Peshawar between 1974 and 2005. The collection is now digitized, housed and publically available in the US Library of Congress and the Afghanistan Studies Center, Kabul University. The much-needed index and annotation project will make the largest extant collection of Afghan oral narrative recordings truly accessible and navigable for researchers and other interested parties in Afghanistan and worldwide.
Christine Fair (Georgetown University, Center for Peace and Security Studies): 'Afghan National Security Forces in Counter-insurgency Operations: An Assessment of Operation Moshtarak'
Since 2001, the US and its partners have sustained counterinsurgency options (COIN) in Afghanistan. The United States took the lead in building the Afghan National Army (ANA), which has been somewhat successful. However, building effective police forces was a low priority until 2005, with disagreement among the international actors about the kind of police forces to be built and resourced. This is unfortunate. The COIN literature holds that local police and domestic security forces—not foreign militaries—are critical in holding and building territories once cleared of insurgents. The Obama administration has declared a phased, conditions-based transfer of security and other responsibilities to the Afghan government also known as “clear-hold-build-transfer.” This model requires sufficient Afghan and international troops to clear an area of insurgents, adequate and competent Afghan national security forces—especially local police—to hold, and a credible Afghan government to build in order to create the conditions for transfer. NATO has heralded operation “Moshtarak” as a paradigm shift. Launched with Karzai’s “permission,” it employs adequate Afghan and international troops to “clear;” the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) and “trained” Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) to “Hold;” and hand-picked line ministry bureaucrats to comprise a “government in the box” to “build.” This study will evaluate Operation Moshtarak several months after its launch through official interviews in Afghanistan in August 2010. It will focus upon evaluating the effectiveness of the ANA “clearing and of ANCOP and the AUP in providing long-term security.