Success in Afghanistan Needs China and Russia

NEW YORK – Preoccupation with Afghanistan’s disputed presidential election is understandable. Ending the country’s violence will require a government with both the legitimacy and capacity to tackle the underlying sources of the Taliban insurgency.

But achieving success in Afghanistan – defined as achieving a sustainable democratic regime able to contain political violence, prevent the reconstruction of a terrorist base with global reach, and dampen a narcotics-funded insurgency that threatens neighboring countries – requires greater policy harmonization among the world powers that have a stake in the outcome.

Much recent attention has focused on how NATO, Afghan, and Pakistani security forces can collaborate to defeat the insurgency and prevent the country from becoming a terrorist haven again. But the past few years have underscored NATO’s inability to achieve sustained political, economic, and security improvements in Afghanistan without more effective international collaboration, particularly with China and Russia.

For several years, representatives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose dominant members are China and Russia, have identified narcotics trafficking from Afghanistan as a major regional insecurity. NATO should use these concerns to explore potential collaboration on Afghan security issues. Securing additional assistance from China and Russia – to supplement the support already provided by the SCO’s Central Asian members as well as SCO observers Pakistan and India – is imperative.