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

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The politics of coalition burden-sharing: "Stand aside" forces

Note the term "Allied caveat and stand aside" above. This slide may be quite telling, regarding the importance, in a negative sense, of caveats (informal, i.e. not openly declared, but officially/mutually registered restrictions on the use of different countries' armed forces in coalition operations) in affecting NATO's reputation in the future. It is an old theme of those complaining about the problems of burden-sharing in places like Afghanistan, within coalitions like ISAF. And it has come up recently once again, in a Canadian lessons-learned report which I posted on here a few days ago.

The above slide is from one of Anthony Cordesman's presentations, and in fact it figures in several of these compilations of his at CSIS. Whether or not the term comes from Anthony Cordesman himself, or from a military source on which Cordesman and his team may have relied in their work, if you do a quick Google search, you may realise that most of even the non-CSIS links that pop up with occurrences of the term "stand aside forces" contain reference to his presentations.

In our book, which I heralded at this blog in September (published back in the summer, by Routledge, in London and New York), with my colleague Nik Hynek we refer to this phenomenon slightly differently, and identify four basic role conceptions that countries may have depending on whether alliance dependence or threat balancing (or both or none of those) is/are driving their involvement in Afghanistan. Those who are alliance-dependent primarily, or not even that, will be either "servants" or "onlookers," respectively, in our categorisation. And largely it is of course these two categories of countries from which you will find Cordesman's "allied caveat and stand aside forces" deployed.

Regardless of by what terms we refer to this phenomenon, it will inevitably form an important part of security debates in the future.

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