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

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Haroun Mir's question

Haroun Mir, currently in the Afghan think tank sector, formerly an advisor to Ahmed Shah Masoud, asks in the International Herald Tribune, in an opinion piece:
"In fact, many Afghan soldiers, who were disbanded from the army under the failed "Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration" policy, are able to effectively escort NATO's supply trucks through the Taliban's heartland for a $500 monthly salary paid by private security companies. If private security companies can make efficient use of Afghan fighters, why can't NATO?"
I'm not sure the problem is that NATO cannot make efficient use of Afghan fighters. The problem is rather that in a country full of warriors, the Afghan police have to provide security in many places - police who are either the strongest militia themselves or are unable to effectively stand up to fight insurgents, being badly paid, badly equipped, and in many places corrupt, as they are.
They certainly don't get 500-dollar salaries, even while it's fairly obvious, I guess, even to any cultural relativist that, customs notwithstanding, a good salary can do wonders to one's morale and how much one internalises job requirements. So Haroun Mir is touching on something important here, even if it is rather vague what it is. I can't put it in a very definite way, either, for now, but it's something to do with how bizarre it is that corporations are able to do something that others can't do. The ones with no stated noble goals in their areas of operation. They don't make vague promises, they don't talk of how in an x number of years their operations would be transformed in a certain way - they just sign contracts, deliver, and for them it's the present that matters.
People with noble ideas should do better than them, doesn't that seem natural?
However, this question may not be relevant if some of the same people are then in a hurry to show disappointment and conclude that controlled warlordism is now the desired end-state in Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Joshua Foust said...

The pathetically low police salaries are one of the biggest reasons why the ANP is so corrupt and ineffective. Those old soldiers Mir talks about could sign up as ANA or ANP officers. They don't, a lot of the time, because it's not as easy to enact highway robbery (the ANP's salaries are so low the bribery must be rampant to make up the difference).

And so on.