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Death and Taxes in Marjah, Afghanistan

Monday, March 1, 2010

The success of Operation Moshtarak, NATO's military offensive to seize the Taliban-controlled town of Marjah in Afghanistan's Helmand province, will be determined by how well coalition forces establish a functioning government now that the bulk of the actual fighting is over. Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently described the plan by saying, "We've got a government in a box, ready to roll in."

The concept of "government in a box," or a functioning government ready for immediate deployment the moment combat operations end, is a novel one. Most of the attention lavished upon ISAF's plans, however, has focused on the man chosen to lead the ready-made government, Haji Zahir.* An expatriate who returned to Afghanistan from Germany, Zahir certainly has his work cut out for him if he is to distance himself from the legacy of Marjah's previous government. Former police chief Abdul Rahman Jan and his men were infamous for beheading locals who refused to pay bribes, and were so violently abusive that the people of Marjah turned to the Taliban for protection. ...

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