The Role of Medical Diplomacy in Stabilizing Afghanistan

By Donald F. Thompson Defense Horizons 63

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Overview

Comprehensive stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan are not possible given the current fragmentation of responsibilities, narrow lines of authorities, and archaic funding mechanisms. Afghans are supportive of U.S. and international efforts, and there are occasional signs of progress, but the insurgent threat grows as U.S. military and civilian agencies and the international community struggle to bring stability to this volatile region. Integrated security, stabilization, and reconstruction activities must be implemented quickly and efficiently if failure is to be averted. Much more than a course correction is needed to provide tangible benefits to the population, develop effective leadership capacity in the government, and invest wisely in reconstruction that leads to sustainable economic growth. A proactive, comprehensive reconstruction and stabilization plan for Afghanistan is crucial to counter the regional terrorist insurgency, much as the Marshall Plan was necessary to combat the communist threat from the Soviet Union.1 This paper examines the health sector as a microcosm of the larger problems facing the United States and its allies in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.

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