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

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Leaflets for an imaginary Afghanistan

MStFB Uruzgan Series update/opinion brief
I have referred a couple of days ago to Hans de Vreij's mentioning a controversial recent declaration from the Dutch Left likening what Dutch soldiers are doing in Uruzgan to the work of death squads. I was so astonished by that language that I quoted that somewhat incredulously. And yet that actually has been stated, apparently, in a leaflet (pdf) being distributed nowadays by activists, against the extension of the Dutch mission beyond next year. Those behind it: this article says the "Troops Out of Afghanistan Committee (...) includes the SP (Socialist Party - P.M.), the Green Left party, the Stop the War coalition and the Platform against the New War." The thinking that forms the basis of what's in the leaflet, it is really astonishing in a way. Warlords (here a.k.a. "de criminelen van de Noordelijke Alliantie") shouldn't have a role to play in the new Afghan polity, there mustn't (as opposed to saying just 'shouldn't') be any civilian casualties in counterinsurgency operations, "Afghans should be allowed to choose for themselves" (elections are apparently not the right way to let that happen) etc. What these people are doing is demanding that 1) there come into existence the most perfect of all worlds RIGHT NOW, 2) that everybody start behaving immaculately even faced with the fact that the first demand can't be met.
Especially the part on warlords makes it clear that these people are defending their imaginary Afghanistan. Those Afghans whom they deem to be 'politically incorrect' effectively shouldn't exist, that's what stems from their point of view. Their wish list (including the wish for the non-existence of certain people and certain problems) leaves us only with that what I said above: an imaginary Afghanistan, inhabited by perhaps a couple of people from the real Afghanistan's population - by such people who manage to remain politically perfectly correct (whatever that means, defined of course according to these activists' world view) even faced with extreme poverty and huge income differences, corruption, insurgency, counterinsurgency, and cultural norms that aren't necessarily compatible with what is politically correct according to these activists. Now, those are the people who should be allowed to choose for themselves... Malalai Joya plus the rest of freedom-loving, secular-minded, democratic, liberal Afghans, I guess.
Sounds nice, even beautiful, but that doesn't make this right.

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