Thomas E. Gouttierre, Dean of the Center for Afghan Studies
The Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska is the only institutional base in the US specifically concerned with Afghan affairs. As director of the center, he plays an integral role in educating the public about Afghanistan.
Previously Mr. Gouttierre has lived and worked for nearly ten years in Afghanistan and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a Fulbright Fellow, and Executive Director of the Fulbright Foundation.
1. What are your priorities as Dean of the Center for Afghan Studies?
Our priorities have always been to promote, facilitate, and seek support for the exchange of persons and ideas between our university and Afghanistan. Oftentimes, this priority is pursued best through grants and contracts and other times through our own institutional resources.
2. What are some concrete suggestions regarding how the international community can fight corruption in Afghanistan?
The international community must accept the fact that it is a large part of the problem – too much wasted and mismanaged programming. The Afghans are not blameless, but the international community must stop "passing the buck" and blaming the Afghans without admitting its own culpability. Establish a better example and then work together with Afghans to attack corruption.
3. Should Western aid be contingent on certain standards of development in Afghanistan?
Western aid should be focused on establishing jobs for Afghans through public works projects – sanitation, repaving Kabul, local hydroelelectric projects, training Afghans in construction skills, etc. Reduce substantially the number of expatriate-manned, big ticket projects. Meeting western deadlines should not be the objective, hiring Afghans should be.
4. There is a general consensus amongst members of atlantic-community.org regarding the negative consequences of warlords in parliament. What practical steps need to be taken to improve this situation? How can their hold on power be reduced? How can the international community empower new politicians?
The influence of the warlords can only be reduced by offering alternative carrots and stick incentives that are seen as more desirable by those they currently dominate. It has been done effectively in the 60s and early 70s by the Afghan government with the west as their partners, this can be done again.