A Test for Privatization in Afghanistan

Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater has been pushing the privatization of the Afghan war as an alternative to the present strategy of gradually completing the Afghanization of the war. This is obviously a very controversial proposal, but it is one that at least merits some consideration. There is one remote area of Afghanistan that might well serve as a laboratory for privatization - the provision of construction security for the Ring Road in the remote northwestern region. Completing of the road was the most wicked problem I faced in my time in country, and the situation has not improved since I left in 2012.

Completion of the Ring Road is vital if the Kabul government is ever to be able to claim control over the entire nation. At present, vast stretches are uncompleted and it is impossible to get from the main western city, Herat, to Mazar el Sharif – the nation's northern most metropolis- by road. The primary reason for the lack of progress is drugs. Without a highway system, it is near-impossible for Afghan law enforcement to assert control. Most drug lords call themselves Taliban to give them some legitimacy, but the Taliban's Haqqani network is also hard at work running poppy through the area. These groups will resist road completion at all cost.

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