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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bagram, Kandahar, and DJ Khaled

I have just seen the NYT's report about the attack on the Bagram base. By the way, here is how a previous, though smaller-scale, attack ended, in March 2009, really not for the faint of heart. The one thing I am struck by is the last sentence of the NYT article: "The back-to-back attacks came as American and Afghan leaders were preparing to launch a major offensive in the city of Kandahar to break the hold of the insurgents in southern Afghanistan."
What is that supposed to add? That this is why the insurgents attacked in Bagram? The answer is no. They attacked because spectacular, complex attacks such as this one draw attention and influence the bigger picture in the information war over perceptions. Or is it supposed to say that the U.S. and ISAF are going to fight back? Probably that is not why this sentence was added but let me address that possibility anyway.

Talking of an offensive in Kandahar is silly. And to my best knowledge the plan now is something consisting certainly not only of military operations but a series of measures in various domains (including governance), involving certainly not only military actors. And there is talk of how this all will be Afghan-led. Moreover, some are talking about a postponement of whatever it is that is coming to autumn. And what is actually happening from the part of insurgents with something potentially coming in Kandahar in mind is a stepped-up campaign of assassinations. There, in Kandahar. That is what one reads out of reports these days.

So I am interested to see if this sort of schizophrenic media coverage comes because there is still so much uncertainty (and likely turf battles and conflicting visions) in the background regarding what exactly ought to be done?

Meanwhile, I have by chance listened into Palestinian-American DJ Khaled's new hit, "We takin' over," and I was struck by how some of the lyrics reflect conventional POP-COIN (population-centric counterinsurgency) wisdom. In a twisted way of course:

"If you want to, we can supply you,
Got enough work to feed the whole town,
They won't shoot you, unless you try to,
Come around and try to stomp on our ground,
'Cause we takin' over, one city at a time..."

Put this in the context of possibly upcoming moves in Kandahar for some deeply intellectual fun.

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