The latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report may be the strongest indictment yet against Afghan strongmen and their security institutions, but does it go too far? The report details a number of human rights violations, charges of war crimes, and institutional predation from figures such as the Kandahar Chief of Police Abdul Raziq, Paktika Afghan Local Police (ALP) Commander Azizullah, and Asadullah Khalid, former NDS intelligence chief.

HRW recommends greater institutional oversight, stronger top-down leadership from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, disbandment of militias, and U.S. implementation of the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. funds being sent to foreign security forces implicated in human rights violations. While the work of HRW is critically important in defending the rights of the powerless and proposing broad institutional improvements, we cannot forget how far along Afghanistan has come in just over a decade. Advancing the cause of human rights, while ideal, is not absolute, and should not be considered absent of repercussions or other compelling interests. Implementing the Leahy Law at this critical juncture in Afghanistan’s nascent stage would be an ineffective policy response to the scourge of predation within Afghanistan’s institutions. Instead, the international community should further empower Afghan institutions to address the problem from within. Click below to read the full article at Foreign Policy.

“Nation Building is Dirty Business,” Foreign Policy, March 2015.