John Nagl, Ahmed Humayun* and I have a paper out from the Center for a New American Security arguing for increased funding for Afghanistan's National Solidarity Program (NSP). Increasing the funding for an aid program may not make a lot of sense in this economic climate, but the NSP isn't like traditional Western aid programs in Afghanistan (where, because of overhead and other costs, only a third of the funding actually finds its way to the Afghan government). The NSP is one of the most cost-efficient programs because Afghans are involved at every level in the decision-making process. And the Taliban are less likely to burn down a school made by fellow Afghans than they are a school made by USAID. This isn't a knock on Western aid organizations, of course. Some of the bravest and best people I know work for Western aid organizations. And the NSP is no panacea. But if we're going to increase funding for any one aid program in Afghanistan, the NSP should be the program.
*Most of you are savvy enough to know how think tanks work. Those of you who do not should know that although John and I feel strongly about the NSP, Ahmed -- who is wicked smart on all things "AfPak" -- did the lion's share of the research in putting this paper together.
Update: Look out, honey, 'cause I'm using technology! (Note the Bushmills over my right shoulder.)