An unrealistic Western reconstruction program for Afghanistan is emerging even as the war continues. The international community is calling for the creation of a democratic, secular state, but it is also clearly not willing to provide a large military force to help build it. Given the extreme fragmentation and militarization of Afghan society, democratic reconstruction cannot possibly work. Instead, we need to devise a more modest and realistic program, aimed at creating peace and restoring basic economic functions rather than rebuilding the entire state. Furthermore, to minimize competition for control of the central government, and to give warlords a vested interest in maintaining peace, most international aid should be channeled directly to Afghan regions.

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About the Authors
Marina Ottaway
is a senior associate and codirector of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project. She is currently working on a comparative study of semiauthoritarian regimes in Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Her most recent books are Funding Virtue: Civil Society Aid and Democracy Promotion (Carnegie Endowment, 2000) and Africa's New Leaders: Democracy or State Reconstruction? (Carnegie Endowment, 1999).

Anatol Lieven is a senior associate for foreign and security policy in the Russian and Eurasian Program. He was previously editor of Strategic Comments at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Among his publications are Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Path to Independence, and Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry, which are largely based on his work as a correspondent for the Times of London in the former Soviet Union from 1990 to 1996. Before that, he was a correspondent for the Times in Pakistan, and covered the Afghan war from the side of the anti-Soviet Mujahedin. Previous policy briefs include Fighting Terrorism: Lessons from the Cold War and Soldiers Before Missiles: Meeting the Challenge from the World's Streets.