In this policy brief, CNAS CEO Nate Fick and co-author Clare Lockhart, CEO at the Institute for State Effectiveness, argue that smart execution of the American strategy in Afghanistan depends on tapping into Afghanistan’s economic potential and empowering Afghans to foster economic development in their own country – including bolstering entrepreneurial activity, foreign investment and building infrastructure – and should be pursued simultaneously with the overall counterinsurgency strategy.
The Economic Imperative: Stabilizing Afghanistan through Economic Growth argues that U.S. and ISAF operations in the country currently have an “economic gap,” and, while lack of attention to economic dimensions are numerable and justified, development is an imperative component to sustainable security and must be pursued.
“Harnessing the potential of the Afghan people to succeed on Afghan terms through Afghan institutions will reinforce stability as it spreads from areas cleared of insurgents, will give more Afghans a stake in the future of their country, and provides the only path to national self-sufficiency,” write the authors.
The international community should also help catalyze a number of existing development initiatives that produce tangible benefits quickly for Afghans, including microfinance and public works programs, the National Solidarity Program, and OPIC-offered risk guarantees to potential investors, and:
- Revitalize the role of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
- Support the creation of a National Task Force for job development and training.
- Reaffirm the significance of Afghanistan’s economic ministries.
- Create a global task force to identify gaps in strategy, financing mechanisms and to explore and set up additional financial instruments.