Poor governance in Afghanistan as dangerous as Taliban: Mullen


Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his reappointment. AP

"I consider the threat from lack of governance to be equal to the threat from the Taliban," Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing.

Responding to the concerns of US Senators about poor governance, Mullen said the legitimacy of the Afghan government at every level is a real concern.

"There needs to be a level of legitimacy that the Afghan people see in their government, whether it's local to national, and there's a great question about that right now, and so far, the elections are not helping," Mullen said.

"I think we need to get through these elections, see what the results are, see who we're dealing with, what's the government look like, and move forward accordingly. But that issue of legitimacy is a huge, huge issue," Mullen said.

Senator Graham said the biggest threat to Afghanistan now is not the Taliban, but it is governance. "I would agree with that," he said. "That vacuum is a combination of poor government and lack of troop presence. Would you agree?" the Senator asked.

"It is clearly the lack of legitimacy in the government at every level. The people don't get services from their government," Mullen said.

Responding to a question from Senator Susan Collins, Mullen said: "The Afghan government needs to at some point in time appear to be -- you know to actually be -- have some legitimacy in the eyes of its people, and the core issue in that regard is the corruption piece, and in many ways it's been a way of life there for some time, and that's got to fundamentally change."

Mullen said: "That threat is every bit the threat that the Taliban is."

"I think first of all, they've got to have security. That's the necessary condition, that they've got to have enough good governance to be able to survive... that includes things like rule of law and institutions that provide things for them that just aren't there right now," the Admiral said.

Mullen said it's important that there is governance available to the people at every level. "So in the totality of governance that I would look at for the future, it would be from village to some level of relatively weak central government that isn't corrupt more than anything else in terms of establishing some semblance of governance for the future," he said.

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