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

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spring semester over

The MStFB Spillover Monitor Report Series No. 11
ABC News' Blotter blog* featured some interesting material on June 18, showing what is apparently a sort of graduation ceremony (on June 9) for would-be suicide bombers, who are going to be sent on missions to "the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany". We're talking about 300 recruits, some of them about 12 years old. The source: "a Pakistani journalist", so ABC says. There are some photos on the ABC site, and there's a video as well. Watching the latter is a good opportunity to get a glimpse of the new executive director of the Talib insurgency, the late Mollah Dadullah's brother, Mansoor Dadullah. As ABC News has just discovered, Mansoor is that very same Shah Mansoor who was among those released in exchange for Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo not so long ago, this spring. (A friend of mine, Péter Wagner has already pondered that possibility back on June 11. So now this seems as good as settled then.) Italians are likely to get some bashing on various blogs in upcoming days, I guess. To mitigate that effect, I might mention that from among the five Talib figures released as part of the exchange, some are already dead, so their release wasn't exactly life insurance for them.
But let's have here a short excerpt from the ABC post now:

"These Americans, Canadians, British and Germans come here to Afghanistan from faraway places," Dadullah says on the tape. "Why shouldn't we go after them?"

On the basis of this, if this is all true, I have no idea what Germany could do to avoid insurgents' antipathy. The latter probably wouldn't take notice even if Germans would start fighting other ISAF units.
Now, what comes to your mind when you hear news like that? I'll give you replies A and B, and you can yourself make a decision on what follows from this logically, be it one of those or anything else.
Reply A: Donald Rumsfeld, back in 2003, when he was still U.S. defence secretary, asked the question in an internal memo that got leaked: “Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the clerics are recruiting, training and deploying?”. (Before you judge then-secretary Rumsfeld hastily, I should point out that he was exploring alternative options in that very memo, and he was just phrasing a question there deliberately in a shockingly to-the-point fashion.)
Reply B: I have on this site already featured an account of what CSIS expert Craig Cohen testified at a U.S. House of Rep's hearing assessing U.S. policy towards Pakistan. One of the points he made there was that the U.S. is spending surprisingly little on Pakistani education, given supposed concerns about madrassas working as militant factories. " Education—which the 9/11 Commission rightly said was critical to making a long-term commitment to Pakistan—comes in at only 3.4% of total U.S. spending. We encourage the government of Pakistan to spend 4-6% of its GDP on education, but we don’t even do this with our aid. / The U.S. is spending about $64 million per year for 30-50 million school-aged children—somewhere between $1 and $2 per child per year. U.S. objectives far outstrip our means of achieving them. / We all know the scale of the problem: women’s literacy under 30%; school enrollment under 30%; teachers who lack skills and incentives and fail to show up for work; more Pakistanis avoiding public schools and attending madrassahs".
Now, whatever option (or combination of options) you yourself might go for, you know that the U.S. military, together with some other country's militaries is obviously working mostly on the basis of Reply A, given that a major part of its function is to provide for such solutions to challenges faced by the U.S. But, as I have posted on that on this site already, they aren't altogether against a complex approach at all, as some die-hard critics would have people believe, and so they have even started working on a very non-conventional Reply C, building 'super-madrassas' themselves for Afghans in Paktika province (so that Afghans hopefully don't go to Pakistan, or to some other place, say, in Afghanistan proper, just for want of a closer location to get their religious education).
Just one more remark. It seems like the graduation ceremony, that I started this post about, took place in Afghanistan, and not in Pakistan's tribal areas. Somewhere in the south of Afghanistan (as the desert-like setting might also suggest). But that isn't made clear in the text of the ABC post. The only way to conclude that is concluding this from Dadullah's words on how all those foreigners he names came all the way here, to Afghanistan. So that means the Taliban could conduct a proper ceremony like that without some reconnaissance asset (be it GEOINT, SIGINT or HUMINT...) catching news of that. Not to mention the training these recruits have supposedly been through. Seems like they may have laid their worries in the wake of Mollah Dadullah's death, about betrayal, to rest. Interesting.
* If the links to the ABC site don't open through the right-click menu, try getting to their pages externally.

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