"They have to agree to stop fighting. We can't make them."
That's Colonel Dickie Davis, the British leader of a civilian-military team that's trying to help maintain order in northern Afghanistan's Sholgarah Valley. His team, as explained in a story in today's New York Times, covers five provinces that have a total population of 5.5 million people.
His team has 70 people.
Do warlords run amok? Of course they do, like gangs:
In Kod Barq, a pretty, if run-down residential complex built by the Soviets on the edge of Mazar, the prize is the adjacent fertilizer factory. Residents say that commanders believe whoever loses control of the residential compound will cede their cut of the factory revenues as well, so soldiers barely out of their teens roam the shady streets.
Once controlled entirely by General Dostum, the compound is now divided between him and General Muhammad. Not long ago, the two sides almost had a shootout, residents say, when they both converged on the meeting hall where the nation's constitutional commission was holding a public meeting.
The cops can't do a damn thing:
"We are the representatives of the government, but we have nothing, and they have everything," the Sholgarah district police chief, Ridar Akbari, said of the militias. He estimated that 500 or more well-equipped commanders and soldiers have taken roost in the valley. To police its 118 villages, he has 48 police officers — earning between $15 and $30 a month — 10 Kalashnikovs, and a jeep....
The commanders and their soldiers are above the law, said Mr. Akbari, the police chief. When he tries to investigate soldiers for beating a villager who resists their extortion, their superiors tell him to stay out of military matters.
"I am ashamed in front of the people of the district that I couldn't bring peace and stability," Mr. Akbari said. He sometimes tells those with guns, "In the future, people will come to the police chief and complain you did something and I will imprison you."
In the present, they laugh at him.
The Bush legacy -- mission not accomplished.