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

Monday, September 10, 2007

Correcting erroneous assumptions, including mine

MStFB Canada/Kandahar update, with attention to Uruzgan, though
I've today read through the report (pdf) on "Canadian Forces in Afghanistan," prepared by the Canadian House of Commons' Standing Committee on National Defence (came out back in June this year). One thing I took note of after this is that, contrary to what I believed and even put down on this blog in an earlier post, only a fraction, something like a tenth, of overall Canadian development spending in Afghanistan is allocated specifically to Kandahar province, as opposed to a more major part of it. This erroneous assumption led me to believe earlier on that Canada spent much more development aid in Kandahar, than the Netherlands did in Uruzgan. This should make me depressed, but hey, hooray, this actually nicely fits with what I've been posting in the last couple of days! Just kidding. I mean: I hate it when I get something wrong.
Anyway, as I pointed out ironically, this really shows that the Netherlands is doing what is possible under the circumstances as far as development is concerned, and I raised this issue just yesterday, pointing to how Dutch development spending in Uruzgan (which apparently is on a level very similar then to that of Canada's in Kandahar) amounts to more than what some PRTs spend in northern provinces, and is even complemented by the Australian Reconstruction Task Force's work.
Canada does seem to run into higher military costs, which might be due partly to the more dynamic nature of fighting the insurgency in Kandahar, and partly to other factors (with provincial peculiarities of the fighting again something that I pointed to in another recent post). Even with that differing nature of the fighting itself in mind, it is important, however, to note the similarity of objectives, which also gives a clue regarding the factor of the similarity of development spending. An important excerpt from pages 52-53:
"In the southern provinces of Afghanistan ISAF is pursuing what has been called the “Ink Spot” strategy. Officially it is referred to as the Afghan Development Zone (ADZ) concept, to establish regions that are sufficiently safe to allow a focus on reconstruction. The intent is to have these ADZs grow and spread like flowing ink, until Afghan government influence and authority covers the country.
Essentially, an ADZ is created this way. Security forces first clear an area of insurgents and then maintain a presence to ensure security of development projects by the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Auxiliary Police and ISAF, augmented by supportfrom a PRT. The PRT and other development agencies then roll out a concentrated programme of spending on projects that have a key economic and social multiplier value, such as bridges, roads, wells, or clinics. ISAF offers a quick reaction capability to protect these ADZs against renewed insurgent activity.
JTF-Afg (the Canadian Joint Task Force Afghanistan - P.M.) is tasked to make Kandahar City into an ADZ. Canadian tactics in this regard have seen the deployment of robust elements of infantry and tanks into forward operating bases beyond Kandahar City, astride likely approaches that might be used by Taliban forces. Security within the city is the responsibility of the Afghan National Police, supported by the Afghan National Army. The KPRT is active within Kandahar City too. The approach is working."
Similarly to what one hears in the political debate in the Netherlands, critics are complaining of a supposed lack of balance concerning the ratio of development and military spending, in Canada, too. The smartest answer to date that I've read regarding that is included in this following excerpt (from pages 81-82):
"When Professor Douglas Bland, the Chair of Defence Management Studies at Queen’s University, appeared before the Committee on 9 May 2006, he addressed the question of mission balance and said that criticisms often rest on an error in reasoning, in which people see balance and equal as synonyms. “True balance,” he said, “is achieved one ‘D’ at a time, when just the right number of resources are provided to meet the particular demands of each of the three Ds. (...) Balance is sustained when we adjust resources as the needs and circumstances change. There is no logical or appropriate way to balance the Ds without measuring particular needs independent of each other. In other words, there is no logic or requirement to make all three Ds equal in every respect.” "
Mentioning Canada in today's post makes sense by the way for another reason as well. Yesterday's news is that the Harper government decided to give up on forcing a vote on the extension of the Kandahar mission for now. A good occasion for him to announce that came with last week's APEC summit in Australia. This all stems logically from what I have also discussed on this site earlier on. The moment is not ripe when so many parties (the NDP, the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois) are opposed to the extension in Canada. Another important development is that it is now clarified what is regarded as a "necessary consensus," that Harper has been referring to so much. No surprise in that it's to be interpreted as 50% plus one MP's vote. It looks dubious, whether or not Harper will be able to get that later on, but at least the conservatives are not running into a well-calculatable defeat at this point.
Update: I realised I should try and translate some of my findings about the differences and similarities between Kandahar and Uruzgan above, expressed in the form of babbling by academic standards, into more of a theoretical kind of language.
For a first try I'll put it this way. It will be a long sentence, sorry.
Regardless of whether an ink blot's peripheral areas are ringed by an area of fighting that takes on an ebb-and-flow character given the only problematically testable, troop shortfall-affected blanketing potential of otherwise superior international security assistance forces or ringed by a geographical line of demarcation (e.g. the perimeters of extreme mountainous terrain) only problematically breachable by similarly troop shortfall-affected forces lacking affording terrain and space for kinetic action, both in Kandahar and in Uruzgan the ink blots that could be made accessible for development efforts (even while taking account of the threat of infiltration in assigning those largely to military forces, or other organisations working closely together with military forces) allowed for opportunities very similar, both in scale and character, regarding those development activities.

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