General James L. Jones, special envoy for Middle East Security and former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, spoke to the Atlantic Community's partner organization World Security Network:
There is a systemic failure in Afghanistan on the part of the international community in coming together to address the five most pressing issues in the country. They are not new, but have certainly intesified:
First, we need to begin to wage a successful fight against narcotics. The money earned from narcotics fuels the insurgency and creates a vicious cycle of death and terror that remains unbroken. That one can solve the problem by simply purchasing the poppy crop oversimplifies the issue as one would trigger an increase in production as a result of higher demand. There is no single solution; rather, a comprehensive approach, which includes subsidies for farmers, alternative crops, decisive action where farmers refuse to comply, and limited purchasing is needed and requires allies to cooperate internationally.
Second, to fight narcotics one must have an effective judicial system. Judicial reform has been very slow in development. There is no reason why the Afghani government cannot develop a more efficient, equitable system based on the rule of law.
Third, to have an effective judicial system, you need an effective police network, which is able to arrest criminals. Increased training, quality, and quantity of police to maintain security in the villages is also crucial.
Fourth, there is a need for a strong, empowered individual who can represent the international community to the government of Afghanistan. It was very disappointing that Lord Ashdown was rejected by the government, as this was least in the interest of the international effort or of Afghanistan itself.
Finally, Afghanistan needs to be seen in a regional context because of what is going on in Pakistan. At the very least, it is a two front operation. However, regional problems require regional solutions. Therefore, we need to reach out to other countries in coming to grips with a course of action Afghanistan.
The call for increased troops and capability is reasonable; however, tens of thousands of NATO soldiers are not required. Instead, focus on the international effort is needed. The major instruments of international power—EU, NATO, UN, World Bank, IMF, and G8— are all at work and they must be made to work better in order that Afghanistan can turn the corner.
General James Jones is special envoy for Middle East Security and a former NATO supreme allied commander
This video interview was conducted by the Atlantic Community's partner organization, the World Security Network.