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Enduring Partnerships: is corruption now Afghanistan's main battlefield?

NATO plans an 'Enduring Partnership' with Afghanistan. As the transition to an Afghan lead in security begins, NATO Review asks whether the fight against corruption in the country will now become the central battleground. What would failing to beat corruption mean - for Afghanistan and NATO?

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Enduring partnership: is corruption

now Afghanistan's main battlefield?

People see the difference.

People are not blind.

The most damaging thing

to their country is corruption.

Last year, the UN Office for Drug

Control came out with a survey.

60% of Afghans believe that the

number one problem was corruption.

It wasn’t the Taliban, it wasn’t

terrorism, it wasn’t the economy.

The average Afghan

is extremely disappointed

with the government’s

performance and the fact

that everyone in the government,

from the lowest officials

to the highest public authority,

seems to be on the take.

Is fighting corruption a priority?

I haven’t heard too many people

in our countries around the world

say that they think

corruption is a good idea.

Corruption since 2001,

with each passing year,

is increasingly on the agenda

of policy-makers within Afghanistan,

for academics and intellectuals, and

for the average person in

Afghanistan.

People always say that corruption

is the thing that must be battled

and that must be fought

so that they can have a life.

What are the effects of corruption?

It breeds dissent, it breeds

major problems as one aspect,

in addition to poverty,

but the other one is of course

that it is very often working

and seeding criminal activities.

The more that people recognise

that there is corruption somewhere,

the less support they’re going

to give to our operations.

If people have to bribe the judge,

or bribe the judge

to get a different ruling,

or are stopped by the police all

the time, they don’t feel protected.

How can the military help?

Fighting against corruption

is a crucial part

of the transition we’re engaging in

now for Afghanistan.

This is also the reason

why we devote so much time

to training people, also in the field of

building integrity and anti-corruption.

Are the Afghan security forces

making progress?

For the average Afghan, living in

the villages in southern Afghanistan,

there isn’t

any alternative to the Taliban.

Ideally the alternative

would be the Afghan forces,

but if they are so utterly corrupt,

then how can the average Afghan

trust the Afghan security forces,

and especially the Afghan police,

to provide security for them?

That’s how you link corruption to the

expansion of the Taliban’s influence.

After the fall of the Taliban,

the army got priority,

but now they have realised this,

there’s a lot

of emphasis on the police,

and we have been seeing recently...

Reports show that popularity

of the police has increased by 10%.

We’ve talked

about the marathon race.

In many ways the army had

a five or six mile head start.

It’s not that much more difficult,

it’s just that we’re

so far ahead with the army.

That’s because NATO is familiar

with working with the army,

it’s taken longer

to get the police on line,

but we had some huge successes

in the last year with police.

Take care.

When people see, the population

and the other sectors of civil society,

that other sectors of

the government are doing very well,

then they look to them as a model,

they can automatically be inspired

and motivated to follow suit.

When the military is seen

to do procurement

and purchases on a fair basis,

on an honest basis,

people see that this is an organisation

that’s there, that they can look up to.

How important is building

skills and capacity?

If you look at the training

of the Afghan police,

one of the biggest problems

has been

that a lot of them don’t know

how to read and write.

So, all those things where you have

to instil a certain level of education

which would allow them

to be trained, like map-reading

and all those other important aspects,

that comes through efforts

over a number of years.

The problem of narcotics,

corruption, poor governance,

all of them can be

to a large extent sorted out

by capacity-building and education

for the future generations.

Get the structures right

so that you can match

behaviour to the beliefs.

How much is

a change of mindset needed?

Fighting this corruption is

not only a military issue, far from it.

We are just one actor

in very, very comprehensive topic.

Our main tool is ingraining

the right mindset in the people.

Proving that things

can be done otherwise

and making sure that the people

we talk to share the same values.

Is corruption part

of the Afghan culture?

We’ve talked this week

about the fact that corruption

in Afghanistan may be cultural.

I don’t buy that.

I think corruption is

an issue of practice, not of culture.

Ask most Afghans what corruption is.

They understand it, they don’t want it.

Some say that the corruption is

integral to the Afghan government,

so we shouldn’t be harping on about

that aspect over and over again.

But if it was so integral

to the Afghan way of life,

why are the Afghan people

so upset about corruption?

What would failing

to beat corruption mean?

All these regional players

will be emboldened and motivated.

The last threat for us,

for our benefits, for our interests,

was the international community,

and they have been defeated,

so this is us now.

That will be the worst nightmare

for everybody.

If things are not reversed then they

will break off parts of Afghanistan

and turn it into their fiefdoms,

rule like warlords,

and drug trafficking

is likely to increase.

One of the problems is

that corruption can cause

an existential threat

to the Afghan government.

If this transition is reversible

and you find that the government

does fall because of corruption.

It can cause us to fail in our mission.

We want it to long-term sustain.

I think because we could

fail because of corruption,

it potentially poses

an existential threat to NATO.

Enduring partnership: is corruption

now Afghanistan's main battlefield?

People see the difference.

People are not blind.

The most damaging thing

to their country is corruption.

Last year, the UN Office for Drug

Control came out with a survey.

60% of Afghans believe that the

number one problem was corruption.

It wasn’t the Taliban, it wasn’t

terrorism, it wasn’t the economy.

The average Afghan

is extremely disappointed

with the government’s

performance and the fact

that everyone in the government,

from the lowest officials

to the highest public authority,

seems to be on the take.

Is fighting corruption a priority?

I haven’t heard too many people

in our countries around the world

say that they think

corruption is a good idea.

Corruption since 2001,

with each passing year,

is increasingly on the agenda

of policy-makers within Afghanistan,

for academics and intellectuals, and

for the average person in

Afghanistan.

People always say that corruption

is the thing that must be battled

and that must be fought

so that they can have a life.

What are the effects of corruption?

It breeds dissent, it breeds

major problems as one aspect,

in addition to poverty,

but the other one is of course

that it is very often working

and seeding criminal activities.

The more that people recognise

that there is corruption somewhere,

the less support they’re going

to give to our operations.

If people have to bribe the judge,

or bribe the judge

to get a different ruling,

or are stopped by the police all

the time, they don’t feel protected.

How can the military help?

Fighting against corruption

is a crucial part

of the transition we’re engaging in

now for Afghanistan.

This is also the reason

why we devote so much time

to training people, also in the field of

building integrity and anti-corruption.

Are the Afghan security forces

making progress?

For the average Afghan, living in

the villages in southern Afghanistan,

there isn’t

any alternative to the Taliban.

Ideally the alternative

would be the Afghan forces,

but if they are so utterly corrupt,

then how can the average Afghan

trust the Afghan security forces,

and especially the Afghan police,

to provide security for them?

That’s how you link corruption to the

expansion of the Taliban’s influence.

After the fall of the Taliban,

the army got priority,

but now they have realised this,

there’s a lot

of emphasis on the police,

and we have been seeing recently...

Reports show that popularity

of the police has increased by 10%.

We’ve talked

about the marathon race.

In many ways the army had

a five or six mile head start.

It’s not that much more difficult,

it’s just that we’re

so far ahead with the army.

That’s because NATO is familiar

with working with the army,

it’s taken longer

to get the police on line,

but we had some huge successes

in the last year with police.

Take care.

When people see, the population

and the other sectors of civil society,

that other sectors of

the government are doing very well,

then they look to them as a model,

they can automatically be inspired

and motivated to follow suit.

When the military is seen

to do procurement

and purchases on a fair basis,

on an honest basis,

people see that this is an organisation

that’s there, that they can look up to.

How important is building

skills and capacity?

If you look at the training

of the Afghan police,

one of the biggest problems

has been

that a lot of them don’t know

how to read and write.

So, all those things where you have

to instil a certain level of education

which would allow them

to be trained, like map-reading

and all those other important aspects,

that comes through efforts

over a number of years.

The problem of narcotics,

corruption, poor governance,

all of them can be

to a large extent sorted out

by capacity-building and education

for the future generations.

Get the structures right

so that you can match

behaviour to the beliefs.

How much is

a change of mindset needed?

Fighting this corruption is

not only a military issue, far from it.

We are just one actor

in very, very comprehensive topic.

Our main tool is ingraining

the right mindset in the people.

Proving that things

can be done otherwise

and making sure that the people

we talk to share the same values.

Is corruption part

of the Afghan culture?

We’ve talked this week

about the fact that corruption

in Afghanistan may be cultural.

I don’t buy that.

I think corruption is

an issue of practice, not of culture.

Ask most Afghans what corruption is.

They understand it, they don’t want it.

Some say that the corruption is

integral to the Afghan government,

so we shouldn’t be harping on about

that aspect over and over again.

But if it was so integral

to the Afghan way of life,

why are the Afghan people

so upset about corruption?

What would failing

to beat corruption mean?

All these regional players

will be emboldened and motivated.

The last threat for us,

for our benefits, for our interests,

was the international community,

and they have been defeated,

so this is us now.

That will be the worst nightmare

for everybody.

If things are not reversed then they

will break off parts of Afghanistan

and turn it into their fiefdoms,

rule like warlords,

and drug trafficking

is likely to increase.

One of the problems is

that corruption can cause

an existential threat

to the Afghan government.

If this transition is reversible

and you find that the government

does fall because of corruption.

It can cause us to fail in our mission.

We want it to long-term sustain.

I think because we could

fail because of corruption,

it potentially poses

an existential threat to NATO.

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