The rule of law

Most Afghans hate warlords. Most Afghans hate the Taliban. When the warlords ruled Afghanistan it was lawless, and so many people welcomed the Taliban who beat back the warlords and installed crude justice. Soon, the Taliban, staggered by their new power, became the new pariah.

After 9/11 the Taliban were beaten back. This left another justice-vacuum. We let the vacuum stand because we were not serious about Afghanistan and so we ran off to Iraq. We finally became serious about Afghanistan in about 2009/2010. This gave the Taliban and their shadow government most of a decade to regenerate. Today, they run their own courts, and since 2006 I have heard countless stories from Afghans that they would prefer to have a government (most would, anyway), but they will take the Taliban over a vacuum. They may hate warlords, but they hate Taliban less.

And so to help bring justice to Afghanistan, on the 4 July at Kandahar Airfield, General Petraeus and a retinue of other key persons came to stand up a new command called the NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission. The first commander is Brigadier General Mark Martins. During the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to talk with BG Martins for several hours and it’s been quite an education, including the reading list he gave me.