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

Friday, September 7, 2007

Sidenote: On 'tanks' in Uruzgan

MStFB Uruzgan Series update
The Uruzgan Weblog nowadays excerpts whatever is Uruzgan-related even from the Taliban's reports on the fighting in Afghanistan, and there's this thing that began to strike me, as a bit of a pattern developed. See these excerpts here, here and here. There is regularly talk by insurgents of tanks hit or destroyed, mentioned as belonging to "Christian kafirs" or, as you can see in the first excerpt, as belonging to "American Christian kafirs". Now, this talk of tanks could be simply dismissed by some as propaganda, as some likely indeed will dismiss it as such, but there might be a more complex explanation behind all this, that I'm not yet able to fully grasp. In a National Geographic documentary, "Inside the Green Berets", which I will mention in the future still, one can hear U.S. special forces talk of insurgent spotters always mentioning their vehicles in their ICOM chatter as 'tanks' (link to the first part of the video on You Tube here). So the first thing to note is that even though 'tanks' aren't tanks really, some sort of vehicles might in fact be hit or destroyed in these instances. The other thing to note is that whatever is called 'American' may not really be American (could be Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, whatever). For an illustration regarding possibilities, I have to refer to another documentary here, Viktor Franke's "09:11 Zulu" (first part on You Tube here), which reveals that Dutch soldiers for example are often mistaken for Americans in the local context, or mentioned as Americans, at times even by the Afghan National Police itself... I don't know if that may have changed by now, at least on the part of the ANP, with more than a year into the Dutch mission now. But anyway, this is amazing, really, since I always thought when I heard Dutch ministers or other politicians complain of Dutch soldiers not being sufficiently distinguished by Afghans from soldiers of other nationalities that this was to be interpreted as a lack of distinction on the basis of the tactics and the strategy practiced by the Dutch units, and not that this may literally be the case. (Though ironically, and not seriously, one may add that it's good Dutch soldiers aren't widely known as "Dutchman" really, given how dushman in Pashto, and in several other languages nearby, means enemy...)

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