The war in Afghanistan is a test of wills between the insurgents and the government, with the population as the battlefield. One question in that competition is who can govern the population more effectively, or at least cater to its needs. The Taliban approach to governance has evolved during the course of the war and is starting to have some effect — how will Canada counter it? Can Canada counter it?


Possibly the most important piece I wrote during the war in Afghanistan. I needed a means to cogently explain what was happening in Kandahar Province and why certain Canadian government departments weren’t getting it. The conflict boiled down into ‘competitive governance’ and the techniques used by the Taliban were ‘negative governance.’  If we didn’t recognize what was going on, we were going to blow it and lose.

“Taliban Governance,” I learned later, developed a high-level audience in two national capitals (none of which was Ottawa) and I was discretely thanked for writing it (but not by Ottawa).


Originally published in Policy Options