'Each man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world'
-- Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

'Artists are tricky fellows sir, forever shaping the world according to some design of their own'
-- Jonathan Strange, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Afghanistan end-game

Much has been written and talked about regarding what the end game in Afghanistan looks like. Today the US and Afghanistan have finalised their strategic partnership arrangement.

Very much it's reminiscent of the CCCP's withdrawal from Afghanistan when it continued to give massive financial aid to shore up the regime, successfully. When the aid stopped, the regime was toppled.

The NYT reports:

However, the United States is already anticipating that it will make a substantial contribution toward paying for Afghanistan’s security forces beyond 2014 and is searching for contributions from its NATO partners. The amount is not settled but a figure of $2.7 billion a year has been under discussion.  There would be additional foreign aid for civilian fields.

Which is similar to the Russian's annual aid back in the early 1990s. Not so much nation-building, as regime-propping. Offshore balancers are in the ascendency in terms of fashionable thought and with good reason after the confused aims and utopian ideals cited in the Iraq and Afghan invasions. 

So where are we? When Russia left Afghanistan, it ranked 170 out of 174 in the UNDP's Human Development Index (Barakat, S. (2004). Reconstructing war-torn societies: Afghanistan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (p.7)).

In 2001 in ranked 89 of 90 in a UNDP Human Poverty Index using various indicators. In 2006 it conspicuously did not feature on the numbered tables, being considered in separation to that with other states lacking enough data. In 2011, it ranked 172 out of 187 (Democratic of Congo was in last place, probably justifying even greater faith into the theory of Resource curses now that globalization has opened up the world's resources to all markets). There can be no doubt, given the numerous documentaries that have emerged, that Western forces went there to do good, to nation-build, to conduct counter-insurgency. But this was war, with resistance, and there was never a post-conflict setting, never a time when the resistance had subsided to such an extent that nation-building could begin. Defence won out over offence. 

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