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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My footnote #8 on 1863, from 2006

Once again I found it hard to enter a new blogpost here for a couple of days. Sorry about that. With Péter Wagner we are hoping to organise a conference on Canadian foreign and security policy this fall, with special regard to Canada's role in Afghanistan, and with guest lecturers invited from Canada. We were working on submitting an application for some financing this week, and that's what took my time recently.
I find it again the easiest to continue from just where I left off earlier. Talking of that Polish insurgency which started in January, 1863 (the powstanie styczniowe). Not forgetting about my Afghanistan focus, I have to draw attention to one of the most interesting parallels between that rising and the neo-Taliban insurgency going on in Pashtun lands. (Don't get me wrong, this is not about some parallel between the neo-Taliban and Polish insurgents as such. My COIN perspective is no stance here against Polish powstańci, not the least.)
For this I can copy here footnote #8 from a study I wrote back in 2006, in which I looked at cross-border insurgencies, ones with rear-base areas in a neighbouring country, in a comparative perspective. Pasting that footnote here makes for some economy of effort in my writing here.

"During the Polish 1863 January Rising, Prussia tried in vain to stop the inflitration across the border into Russian-controlled land of a great number of Polish volunteers. Partly for this reason, and partly (primarily) for other reasons, as e.g. with thought of a potentially impending war with France in mind, Prussia signed the Alvensleben Convention with Russia (in Saint Petersburg, on February 8, 1863). In that agreement, effectively on counterinsurgency matters, Prussia undertook to exchange information more intensively with Russia. The opportunity to pursue insurgents in Prussian territory was also offered to Russian troops, as well as the opportunity to have such troops transported by Prussian railways in case of a need for a quick troop transfer from one point to the other. The agreement wasn't put to use in practice really, nevertheless the opportunity was there."

As you see, ISAF and OEF forcesRussia got what it wanted from PakistanPrussia.
What do we have in the Pashtun tribal areas nowadays? Kip, the latest new contributor over at Abu Muqawama's place answers:
"Over the course of a decade, Pakistan has moved that border westward (also discussed by Ahmed Rashid as part of Pakistan's pursuit of strategic depth). What defines the border now is no artificial Durand line but rather high ground and "key terrain," all held, of course, by Pakistani forces. The response of Coalition countries has been to ignore this and tell the Afghan government to stop complaining about Pakistan and focus on its own problems. (...) This is especially true as the Pashtun, Pakistani tribesmen who now occupy most of the important terrain are not exactly going out of their way to prevent the insurgents from getting in--certainly far less so than the multi-ethnic, nationalist Afghan National Army and happy-to-kill-bad-guys Coalition Forces would be in those same locations."
So 1) "Russia" in this case is not too actively seeking to tell "Prussia" what is wanted from her; 2) "Prussia" isn't willing to just offer it, thinking of some impending war with "France." Major differences. But for a big similarity you have ethnic group P on both sides of the border...
This latter paragraph was very scientific from me, wasn't it? :)

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