What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Success or failure in Afghanistan?

MStFB News Commentary
Jim Maceda over there at the NBC World Blog wrote a piece on whether the international state-building effort in Afghanistan is headed towards success or failure. He wrote it because he was asked a number of times about it, and apparently in a rather pressing way. 'Is it success or failure, Jim? Now drop that silly talk of complex judgements and shades of gray instead of black and white... We want an answer Jim, and I'll only ask you once more and then I'll push this button here and you won't like it, trust me... So is it gonna be success or failure then?' - that's I guess the way it must have been. Or sort of. I can understand Jim Maceda that he decided to escape such tortuous and torturous questions the easiest way: by saying the chances are fifty-fifty.
Well, I decided to help out from a safe distance from such pressing questions, and pointed to the 2006 Afghanistan Compact - that perhaps, for a start, even with all its inconsistencies and conceptual errors, that document could be used as a basis for judgement. Here's the comment I submitted:
"I think someone who wants to present a balanced view of the situation in Afghanistan should first of all have clear benchmarks for judgement. There is a document called the 'Afghanistan Compact' from 2006, which has a part titled 'Benchmarks and Timelines'. There are for you the consensual goals of the 'international community' (whatever the latter means in its policy-wise disintegrated form of actual existence) in Afghanistan in that part. One has to look at each of the long list of objectives included in that document and come up with a more detailed picture than an overall 50/50. To highlight some of the most important things in there: by the end of 2010 security and stability should be 'promoted' (literal quote) in all provinces. There is some confusion though beyond the one caused by the wording, too, because elsewhere the document says that all illegal armed groups in all provinces should be disarmed by the end of 2007. But I don't want to present this document as useless by pointing out this contradiction, even if it's an important one. It does provide a comprehensive overview of dimensions in which success/failure could be measured, and so the media should use it I think."

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