Turning the Taliban: Michael Semple, a fellow with Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, discusses the Taliban and Afghan politics at a Belfer Center directors' lunch.
"Pentagon Taps Belfer and Carr Centers for Af/Pak Expertise"
Author: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications
Belfer and Carr Center fellows and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) students have been busy since fall supporting the work of the Joint Staff 's Afghanistan-Pakistan Coordination Cell (PACC). The PACC, created by General Stanley McChrystal and directed by Brigadier General John Nicholson, plays a crucial role in supporting counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan.
Coordinated by Belfer Center Executive Director of Research Eric Rosenbach and Belfer researcher Matan Chorev, a coterie of Belfer and Carr Center fellows and Kennedy School students have supported the PACC's efforts to achieve what the deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the coalition calls a "rich contextual understanding" of the conflict's drivers. The HKS group provided nearly two dozen case studies on issues in Afghanistan such as capacity building, the Taliban, geopolitics, rule of law and justice issues, legitimacy in governance, and the relationship between development and security.
Sabrina Roshan, an HKS student researcher (MPP 2010) with the Belfer Center, focused her case on the rural perspectives of the Taliban, specifically on residents of central Afghanistan's Wardak province. Roshan spent time over the summer in Kabul speaking to Wardakis who had relocated there following the Taliban's strengthening stronghold in their province. From her interviews, Roshan concluded that the main force behind apathy or support for the Taliban is neither ideology nor compensation, but rather the desire for transparent and efficient local administration.
Another case concentrated on factors that influence opium poppy cultivation. This case built on Carr Center fellow David Mansfield's decade-long experience collecting data and working in rural Afghanistan on drugs and development issues.
In addition to the cases, the HKS team helped inform the design of a National Intelligence Council regional war game, in which Rosenbach participated. In addition, Rosenbach and Chorev are regular participants in the Pakistan Afghanistan Federation Forum, a weekly video teleconference with Gen. McChrystal and the interagency representatives involved in the U.S. Afghanistan effort. Further, Rosenbach and Chorev helped chair a fall conference to inform the methodology of the "rich contextual understanding" effort, and hosted with Tufts University's Institute for Global Leadership an off-the-record workshop in February on the prospects for security and political reconciliation in Afghanistan. "This is a fantastic opportunity for the Center to contribute to one of the most important challenges facing the nation right now," Rosenbach said. "The project has demonstrated true synergy of expertise from students, fellows, and faculty from across HKS."
Lindsay Hodges Anderson contributed to this article.
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