Explore BrainMass

The Ultimate Term Paper

Provide an overview on the war on Afghanistan, and why humanitarian groups had such a difficult time getting aid to the people of several Middle Eastern countries.

Solution Preview

On August 8, 1998, the Islamic student movement in Afghanistan, known as the Taliban, took control of the last city in the country not under their control, Mazar-i-Sharif. With this last conquest of the country, the Taliban gained territorial control and moved to promote an aggressive Islamic traditionalism. With the emergence of the power of the Taliban in Afghanistan, many new international issues have arisen, specifically in regards to humanitarian affairs.

IA. Issue-Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan and its Importance

The case of how the international community should deal with the crisis is an important international issue for several reasons: whether or not aid can be safely delivered by the international community, what compromises must be made to allow aid to be delivered, and what measures will be taken if the governing force does not comply. Equally important is the question: On what terms should aid be delivered given the present state of the governing force? In effect, the Taliban has been toppled and the question of what type of government will be established is still to be decided. Therefore, the difficulty lies in the power of enforcement of the governing force in the implementation of the solution.

IB. Main Actors and Their Importance

The main actors in this case are the United States, the United Nations, Pakistan and the future governing force in Afghanistan.

IB1. The United States

It is necessary that the United States be an actor in this crisis since, although it was not the original cause of the crisis, its actions in Afghanistan have escalated the situation significantly. Through its mission to seek out Osama Bin Laden and therefore, topple the Taliban, it has caused many people to be displaced and in need of basic amenities such as health care and food provisions. Therefore, since the United States itself has been a contributing factor to the dilemma at hand, it is necessary that it be intrinsically linked to its solution.

IB2. The United Nations

The United Nations is a necessary force in the case of the humanitarian dilemma, primarily because of its function as an international institution. Through the resources of its member states, it has the power to collect efforts to help aid flow. In doing so, it can most effectively pool the resources in order to help implement the best allocation of resources and time and therefore deliver aid in the most efficient fashion. It is an important actor also because the United States contributes a great deal to it. The United States can use the United Nations as a means to achieve its goals and push its ideas and desired policies in order to more effectively implement them by gaining not only support, but also resources from member states.

IB3. Pakistan

Pakistan is an important actor because many aspects of the dilemma are extremely relevant to its borders, specifically in terms of the refugee crisis. The actions that will be taken in the future will depend on the action at the border camps and will also require the cooperation of the delivery of aid through routes through Pakistan (as well as through other neighboring states such as Uzbekistan). The safety of such delivery could possibly involve the governing force of Pakistan in order to most securely handle such a problem.

IB4. The Future Government of Afghanistan

The new governing force in Afghanistan will also be a significant actor in the cooperation of swift delivery of aid. While at present, it is simply known that the government will consist of factions from different ethnic, regional, and ideological groups, the hope is that all will share in the desire to alleviate the humanitarian disaster that has been plaguing Afghanistan for the past three decades as well as a vision of a country free from aid dependence in the future.

IC. Advised Party-The United Nations

In relation to the question of what form of action should be undertaken in the case of the humanitarian crisis, the party advised is the United Nations. This issue is important to this party for numerous reasons. One reason is that the United Nations seeks to preserve its interests in the region by stabilizing the government through decentralization in order to give equal treatment to all groups in Afghanistan, as well as to form better relations with its neighboring countries. In effect, it is the most important actor in the situation. Its action is representative of the collective action of the member states and therefore is greater than the individual action of one state. In addition, the driving force behind United Nations policy in Afghanistan is the United States. Therefore, the action of the United Nations will likely be contiguous with the policies of the United States.

ID. Proposed Policies for the United Nations

There are four policies that will be proposed to the United Nations. The first policy is the establishment of humanitarian safe aid zones. The second is to deploy United Nations peacekeeping troops to secure the humanitarian supplies and to protect aid centers. The third is to promote open borders and increased refugee assistance of neighboring nations through funding. The final proposal is to increase the amount of supplies and efforts to establish temporary relief camps.

IE. Preferred Policy-The Establishment of Humanitarian Safe Aid Zones

The preferred policy is the establishment of humanitarian safe aid zones. This is the most likely policy to be pursued for several reasons. First, it solves the immediate problems of aid route looting. Second, it is the least costly in terms of manpower and financial support. Finally, while the policy solves the temporary crisis at hand, it also has prospects of extension into the future.

II. Background:

IIA. Relevant History Concerning the Evolution and Sources of the Humanitarian Dilemma

IIA1. The Soviet Invasion and Cold War Framework

Beginning with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the emergence of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. The invasion resulted in over one million predominantly civilian casualties, a mass departure of inhabitants matched by those in World War II, damage to infrastructure and civil society, and the devastation and near collapse of state establishments. Halfway through this era, the April 1988 Geneva Accords allowed the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan and embarked on a large-scale plan for humanitarian assistance by the United Nations. However, in 1992, the Najibullah Soviet-backed regime fell and the resistance rose to power due to the weakened military as well as changing loyalties of the former regime. Yet, the opposition mujahideen alliances, cooperative before, were no longer unified once in power, (Donini, 21, 25-26).

Humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan is based strongly in the framework of the Cold War. Prior to the April 1988 Geneva Accords, assistance from United Nations agencies was restricted to refugees in Iran and Pakistan and to development aid through the government in Kabul and the regions of which it was in command and were prohibited to work in regions controlled by mujahideen forces. However, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had more flexibility and beginning in the 1980s worked cross-border from Peshawar to give assistance, particularly medical assistance to mujahideen dominated areas. Still, the initial era of humanitarian effort was generally characterized by minimal participation of both UN agencies and NGOs. In addition, a large amount of assistance was delegated through and given to military officials and was inextricably linked, therefore to the United States' as well as other western governments' military support of the mujahideen. This unique basis provided the background for UN activities to organize humanitarian aid for victims of the conflict, (Donini, 21, 25-26).

IIA2. The Extent of the Humanitarian Disaster

The depth of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is clear as demonstrated by its rankings in several areas that fall at the bottom of those of not only Asia, but also the world. The infant mortality rate is 147 out of every 1000 born, life expectancy is only 46.24 years, adult literacy is 31.5% and female literacy is only 15%. In addition, there are numerous land mines, physically and mentally disabled people, people that depend upon food support, refugees and internally displaced people and very limited safe water access. In the past twenty years, over a million people have been killed as a result of civil war and drought. While true data about Afghanistan is often hard to locate, the problems facing the country are evident. The problem in finding information about the country is a result of the drop in rankings of Afghanistan in the 1997 UN Development Report, possibly explained by the absence of international interest and knowledge of the social problems, (Maley, 135).

The initial phase of humanitarian efforts showed an influx of aid workers, united in the efforts against the Soviet invasion and in support of the mujahideen forces. However, as the initial years of aid progressed, a shift in the reasons for support was seen as the aid began to become entwined in politics of the situation, particularly with the United States involvement in the war, (Rubin, 1-23). In addition, with the collapse of the industrial sector and the employment market in Afghanistan, the aid industry is not seen as minor. Rather, it is the second largest sector left after agriculture.

IIA3. The Role of the Taliban in the Exacerbation of the Humanitarian Crisis

Thus, humanitarians face numerous problems, some of which existed prior to the arrival of the Taliban, but most of which have been escalated by their presence, (Maley, 136). The Taliban continued to partake in the 22 years of conflict between the Taliban and the United Front coalition. However, the civil war, combined with a period of extreme drought, deeply affected approximately 17 provinces and escalated the humanitarian crisis. The civilian population, therefore, is increasingly despondent and unsafe. Especially significant is the inability of the past authority in Afghanistan to partake in decisive action in humanitarian assistance. But, according to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, while the authorities claim this is due to the lack of resources, the Taliban contradictorily stated that they had a budget of 80 million U.S. dollars for the year, an amount that is approximately equal to one third of the international flow of aid to Afghanistan, (Deen, 1-3). The participation of the future government of Afghanistan in the delivery of aid is questionable, as the Taliban will most likely only represent a small portion of it.

In the past, the Taliban has often been uncooperative in the administration of aid, particularly in the cases of women. While aid missions have been more easily achieved in regions not controlled by the Taliban, the Taliban's areas are more restrictive. In addition, the Taliban restricted certain aid missions into regions under their control. The Taliban seized 1,400 tons of supplies from the U.N.'s World Food Program, closed its resources in the country and placed them under watch(Chinoy, 1-2). Yet, on ...

Solution Summary

This paper gives a brief overview of the War on Afghanistan and explains why humanitarian groups had such a difficult time getting aid to those in need. It can serve as a nice jump off point to developing an updated composition that discusses the current state of the country, in addition to issues of policy, and whether or not you believe matters of concern surrounding the war have fully been resolved. It also serves as a great example of the ultimate term paper and can be used as a guideline to help anyone write one, no matter what the subject.