Archive for January, 2007

Life of the Parties

Monday, January 29th, 2007


In Afghanistan, many of the problems coming home to roost now are the result of too little American intervention rather than too much. That does not mean too little American aid. In any case, private enterprise is doing very well, thank you: Afghans are a practical people with good capitalist instincts. They can pull themselves out of poverty given the right laws and the rule of law — as well as the institutions that go to make up a functional civil society.

Of these institutions, one that is most crucial is political parties. Even one-party states have them, and with reason. They bring people together across ethnic and class lines, and often serve as a counterweight to clan ties and religious affiliation. Moreover, they lead citizens to think in national terms, rather than to vote reflexively along ethnic lines. Finally, political parties could be an essential weapon in our counterinsurgency in the border provinces.