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

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Ahmed Rashid Quote Contest

I'll provide here a non-sponsored link to Ahmed Rashid's book, Descent into chaos: The United States and the failure of nation-building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia, on Amazon. The only point that I'll make here is that the points I had made before about setting up "tribal" militias in Afghanistan are ones that are also made by Rashid in his narrative of post-2001 Afghanistan.

Things the attentive reader could notice:

- Complaints about the fact the US military continued to hire and employ local militiamen to guard some of its bases even at the time when the DDR process was on.

- That weapons provided to these militiamen included captured Taliban stockpiles much of which were then just passed on on the black market (therefore it is easily imaginable that a part of these stockpiles went straight back to insurgents).

- Rashid's whole book is partly about the failure of nation-building (or state-building) in Afghanistan in the sense that the latter would have required attention-to-detail, a carefully supported political process, equally carefully nurtured institutional development and a massive commitment of resources, from the start, for all of the listed purposes (in terms of boots on the ground, aid dollars, Western VIP visits, media attention etc.).

- Instead, right after 2001, the U.S. DoD thought that warlord fiefdoms were the most suitable solution to contain terrorist influence, which then resulted in the usual breakdown of stability in the south ("usual," since that's what occurred in the early 1990s, too, before the Taliban came). The insurgents came, and so did, with them, terrorist influence.

So what sort of Ahmed Rashid Quote Contest am I talking about? Well: you're absolutely welcome to offer any of the relevant passages of that book you could quote here, for the attention of those who haven't yet read it. Feel free to use Rashid's influence.

Sidenote
: Iago18335, a veteran of Afghanistan, links to an FT article that is beyond a subscription firewall, unfortunately. At his blog, he excerpts it, however, and the excerpt reveals ongoing thinking about a shura-based approach. So thinking is evolving in terms of trying to replicate the arbakai experience even if that thing was somehow not created up till now all by itself in many areas. Weapons provided to the would-be arbakai are promised not to be exported to Afghanistan, but found there, perhaps already in the possession of said tribal groupings. I understand Iago18335's skepticism.

Sidenote No.2.
: Some people will probably wonder how I can realistically call for a quote contest. First of all, why bother pointing out the obvious? Secondly, there's comment moderation enabled at my blog to keep suicide spammers from infiltrating, which is a pain in the back for people genuinely willing to comment. Thirdly, this is a contest with no prize (maybe Afghanistan could have it). If, these considerations notwithstanding, some comments do arrive, cheers in advance! Otherwise, I hope this post (touching upon the subject for the thousandth time at this blog) could suffice as well.

Sidenote No. 3.
: Our noted loose-cannon cyber-arbakai fellow blogger's post here is endorsed with this particular conclusion of his in mind: "Now outside of these ethnically homogenous enclaves where jirgas have little influence, tribal police aren’t such a great idea. Try them where they might work and try something else in other places."

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