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

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Now that you're here to read this blogpost, let me redirect you here (after reading my remarks of course...).
The link goes to Stephen Farrell's account of how he was kidnapped with his translator/fixer Sultan Munadi, near the site where two stolen fuel tankers had been bombed by an F-15 on the orders of a German officer the day before. And how they were taken from one hideout to another. And how he was rescued eventually.
There was much debate in the latter days in comment threads whether Farrell and his teammates were acting irresponsibly when they went to where they did, and whether one should be outraged that a British soldier had to die while rescuing them. Good arguments came in defence of them: the two I would highlight are firstly that journalists need to go out of the wire as well, to produce really informative stories, so being force-protection-centric works against their professional interests as much as it does for soldiers (and it would deprive us of much useful insight, of the sort that Farrell's account now provides us with). Secondly, as Kenneth Payne pointed out, journalists might generally be regarded as worthy of being saved in an armed conflict where the war of ideas is just as important as the war of the people firing bullets on the ground - they need to be saved even if somebody is angry with them. Now, as far as reality is concerned, of course it turns out to be more complex than how any of these abstract debates conceived of it. Apparently Stephen Farrel and Sultan Munadi could have driven away from the place where they ended up kidnapped, if only they would have had the keys to their car... And then we wouldn't be having this conversation.
(P.S. For me, Baghlan province is also of interest (as there is the Hungarian PRT). Baghlani Jadid is an area just as problematic as Char Dara. And, apparently, at one point the insurgents guarding their captives considered moving either over there, or to Baghlan town itself, or to somewhere else in the province.)

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