The Economist has an article on the problems of centralizing government control in Afghanistan. The new Afghani government doesn’t have any control outside of the capital city of Kabul, and the rest of the country is controlled by fracticious warlords and militias.
This situation reminds me of another nation that had just won a war to seperate themselves from tyranny. They faced a group of fracticious and largely independent bodies and a citizenry that was armed to the teeth. Just as the central government had been formed, a group of these armed militiamen were already promising to defy the dictates of the central government.
That country was the United States, and the time was 1794. Pennsylvania farmers had started the Whisky Rebellion, and it was up to President George Washington to use his army to cement the power of the United States federal government. He did exactly that, and the rebellion quickly faded.
What Karzai must do is to create his army, and quench just one rebellious warlord in Afghanistan. Once he has proved that his army can maintain control, many of the others will soon fall in line. What Karzai must not do is use the United States to do it for him. His government must prove that it has the ability to maintain the peace in Afghanistan, or it will quickly fall from without and from within.
Many leftists are saying that the United States is neglecting the newly formed Afghan central government. There’s some validity to this, we certainly could do more, but we cannot fight their battles for them. If the transitional government is to survive, it must do so on its own. We cannot expect democracy or even stability to just pop up in Afghanistan in the next few years. This is something that will take decades of change. American democracy didn’t fully iron itself out for nearly 90 years after it began and then only after one of the bloodiest civil wars in recorded history – we cannot expect Afghanistani democracy to appear overnight.