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

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The world peace jirga

The Weekly Great Game - Special Issue #5 (April 17)
Still keeping it surprisingly state-centric here, at least for a "state failure blog." The Weekly Great Game's newest special issue follows.
I do enjoy writing of the interstate relations aspect of the ongoing state-building attempt in Afghanistan for a change anyway, but actually there's a lot to be covered in that field nowadays for a blog that, however state-failure-focused, wants to offer a comprehensive picture of developments in Afghanistan.
So the Olympic torch arrived to Islamabad yesterday. This is the sort of security Pakistan readily provided to the flame, AP reports:
"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Runners carried the Olympic flame around the outside of a sports stadium today — an invitation-only event in front of an elite, sparse crowd with heavy security to deter any anti-China protesters or terrorist attacks.
Clearly worried about the possibility that the high-profile ceremony might be disrupted, thousands of police aided by explosives-sniffing dogs stood guard as Pakistan’s pro-China government ensured a trouble-free stop on the torch’s global tour toward Beijing.
Televised live — the only way the general public could watch — the relay of Pakistani and Chinese torchbearers looked almost like a practice run as they jogged on access roads around the perimeter of Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad’s main sports complex."
The Chinese connection is of course very important to Pakistan. Definitely more important than the U.S. one which the U.S. constantly has to buy into by paying a lot of money not caring about where it goes exactly, and by not going for a firmer alliance with India and for a clear prioritisation of stabilising Afghanistan. Chinese influence is on par with, if it doesn't exceed, Saudi influence in Pakistan. No wonder the Pakistani security machine went into full gear now.
And President Musharraf, who has just come back from a six-day trip to China, called China Pakistan's closest friend, which, if you're generous with superlatives, still might leave room for other closest friends, but you know...
And while visiting China, Musharraf said more sweet words:
" President Pervez Musharraf said the Pakistan-China ties were time-tested and all-weather and added “Pakistan’s friendship with China is the bedrock of Pakistan’s foreign policy and will remain so.” "
Plus, coming on the heels of the big Russian push connected to the NATO Summit at the beginning of April, China has made its move, too, for which Musharraf played the role of spokesperson. Musharraf said that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation could become involved in Afghanistan now, too. In exactly what role, it remains to be seen of course. But the Chinese have all sorts of stakes in Afghanistan to play for, from copper-mining to securing Afghanistan from Islamist radicals who are seen as threatening stability in Xinjiang for example. And, by the way, to save their Pakistani allies from whoever is threatening them.
So it looks like Afghanistan is the place to meet for the great powers.
Theoretically I wouldn't question that at all. With the high level of economic and security interdependence in today's world, interests ought to be converging theoretically.
But of course there's a reason why I'm stepping out of my state failure-centric and interdependence-focused framework of analysis for these weekly great games. (Forgive me for the absurd and merely rhetorical assumption of this, but) if you're expecting a world peace jirga to come by any time soon, we're not quite there yet.

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