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

Thursday, July 5, 2007

'D' is for Different II. - Canada and the Netherlands in Afghanistan

MStFB Uruzgan Series update
On June 14 I have looked at similarities and differences between the Canadian and the Dutch approach in Afghanistan. To contrast the two, I have made the basic point that while both countries are officially following the so-called '3D' approach in handling their respective PRT tasks, Canada in Kandahar, and the Netherlands in Uruzgan, in fact they are putting the emphasis on different D's. Canada on Defence (essentially offence, as I have joked about this), and the Netherlands on Development and Diplomacy rather.
The Dutch strategy is about creating islands of development. To guarantee the peace of those development islands, the Dutch have tried, in vain as we now know in the wake of the battle of Chora, to accomodate as many local players as possible... "A cup of tea with the Taliban, why not?", is essentially what they asked on one occasion, prior to Chora. (There you have the diplomacy component.)
Well, in a way I got it wrong. I'm saying that now on the basis of the following figures I've come across in a Radio Netherlands press review from June 27. Quote:
"Minister van Middelkoop wrote that so far, the Netherlands has spent 14 million euros on reconstruction in the Afghan province and has allocated a further 7 million for projects set up by military provincial reconstruction teams. Trouw covers the same story; its headline is "cost of mission to Uruzgan rises to 600 million". At first glance one might think it is a misprint but no, Trouw is talking about the costs of the military mission. The paper reports that the two-year mission was originally estimated at 380 million euros."
The same sort of figures for Canada's Kandahar mission then. 'Development and aid spending' for fiscal year 2006/2007: $139 million. Military spending, same period: $1,416 million.
As you can see, development spending in proportion to military spending isn't faring well anywhere. Still, in the Canadian case the ratio is better than in the Netherlands' case!!! (Not to speak of the difference that's there in absolute terms as well...)
Canadians spend 10.187 times as much on military operations as on 'development and aid', while the Dutch spend 28.571 times as much on their military operations as on 'reconstruction' - counting, for the latter, with 21 million euros, thus counting that together with the 7 million euros only allocated, and not spent, as yet, as mentioned above (I assume that 'development and aid' essentially covers the same as 'reconstruction'; that it's just a case of different wording by the different sources.)
So while the Netherlands were aiming at a mix of D's very different from that of Canada, they ended up with a more lopsided mission, in favour of 'defence'!!!
I can only speculate about reasons for that. One possibly is that the Canadians' pro-active approach creates insurgency-free areas where development can really go ahead, while the Dutch were initially even thinking of leaving Chora behind seeing the outbreak of the previous month's fighting there. (Note that the Canadians are spending about twice as much on their military operations than the Netherlands.) Another reason may be that the Netherlands, despite the rhetorics, were only aiming at minimalistic objectives for the two years of their mission in Uruzgan, which they only grudgingly agreed to undertake. The case of the Oshay clinic project, the source of a bit of contention between local U.S. and Dutch forces, might possibly indicate such deliberate holding back (I have written about that project here). But as I said, this is just speculation. The facts, the very interesting facts, I have noted above.
Update (September 10, 2007): As it became clear to me now, the $139 million sum referred to in the Senlis Council paper is actually the amount of overall Canadian aid spending for Afghanistan. Only about a tenth of that is spent in Kandahar. That of course leads one to very different conclusions regarding Canada's situation. Development aid is spent on a level similar to the Netherlands', while the more dynamic nature of the fighting in Kandahar leads to higher military costs.


Bob said...

I think Canada has been there a year longer and the Dutch had to basicly set up an entire base in TK for 2000+ soldiers with special blast proof containers which cost 50,000 euros a piece. Canada does also not have any transport and attack helicopters or fighter jets in Afghanistan.

The Australians are actually taking on the bigger construction projects in Uruzgan. They have 350 engineers with force protection. Bet if you compared Australia with Canada you'd find that Australia has a much more favourable rate of spending on defence vs development in Afghanistan. I hope you see where I'm aiming with this, just comparing some numbers won't tell you much.

Péter MARTON said...

Thanks indeed for the comment, Bob. I totally agree that such a simple comparison as the one I've made will not tell us that much.
I should have explained a little bit more why I saw it as important on the basis of my previous pieces on Uruzgan. So the point is that this again is data suggesting that the Dutch strategy is determined more by constraints than anything else.
One thing I'm not sure about, though. The article I quoted talks specifically about the costs of the Uruzgan mission, and not those of military operations in Afghanistan altogether. So I'm not entirely sure if the air operations are included in that figure - though it's definitely possible, or even probable they are.
Would be interesting to know.

Anonymous said...

You're right Peter, there might be more militairy costs made by the Dutch, but so are there more development contributions from the Dutch in Afghanistan.

Péter MARTON said...

Well, as I said I'm not entirely sure yet.
The military costs dispensed by the Netherlands may be higher if air operations aren't indeed included in the 600 million euros tally - shame on me that I don't know that yet, but today I'll have some time, so I'll try to figure that out.
Development contribution in Afghanistan - yes, the Dutch are indeed spending not just in Uruzgan, of course. In 'their old province' Baghlan they are still running all sorts of programs for example, so that is again something that may be true.
To make a controversial point then: considering the destruction caused by military operations necessary for development, a prerequisite, perhaps we could count that as development contribution, too. Provided that the given military costs really take us forward in a sense (e.g. by weakening the insurgency).