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

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hearing arguments about Afghanistan

A couple of months ago the Hungarian Institute of International Affairs (HIIA) published a working paper I wrote, with the title "Pomeranian grenadiers in the Hindu Kush: A look at the Afghanistan mission from a (broadly interpreted) cost/benefit perspective." I pasted in the summary here, with some of the most important conceptual arguments of the paper, regarding why the Afghanistan mission is important. In general I argued that the Afghanistan mission is in fact important, even while not necessarily good arguments are usually presented to explain why. And I also pointed to how, given the nature of counterterrorism and counternarcotics especially, it is difficult in the turbulent and complex contemporary security environment to devise predictably effective policies in general. Even while it's still surprising to me that the imperative of "sanctuary denial" is not a no-brainer for everyone.

At KoW, Theo Farrell has just yesterday linked to a House of Commons hearing's uncorrected transcript where he gave evidence regarding some of the same issues. It was a mighty interesting thing to read for me, contrasting it with my views. I will refer to it in my upcoming doctoral thesis, too. (Yes, I am just in the process of writing, or more exactly finishing, one. From an analyst's selfish working point of view, I hope Pakistan - rather than Tajikistan, dear ICG! - stays where it is until I finish, or I'll have to seriously reconsider everything I'm writing.)

As an aside, getting back to the link I provided a couple of days ago, to leaks about British citizen guerrillas overheard chatting on the intercom in Helmand, both Theo Farrell and Colonel Langton (also giving expert testimony at the HoC) deny having heard anything specific related to this. Me, I don't know. The timing of the leak is interesting (i.e. doesn't seem to be very random). But then people like Rashid Rauf are blasted in that conlict zone from time to time. Why couldn't more British citizens of Pakistani origin be active in Helmand? Even a German of German origin can turn up in that part of the world for the fight, so this at least can be expected.

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