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"Why focus on failed states?"

Old 09-16-09, 11:34 PM
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"Why focus on failed states?"

Kind of a good question.

18:03 GMT +00:00
Why focus on failed states?
Posted by: The Economist
Categories: Afghanistan War on terrorism

HERE'S a question: If NATO withdraws from Afghanistan and the country slides into even more chaos, so what? Only an unreconstructed Bush-era neocon hyped up on Helmand opium still believes Afghanistan can be transformed into a self-sustaining, stable democracy. The most common argument I've heard for a continued NATO presence is that if we leave, the country will revert to a failed state, providing renewed safe haven for al Qaeda. I would counter that we've become too obsessed with failed states.

For as long as there have been states, there have been failed ones, and there always will be. What made pre-invasion Afghanistan such a threat is not that it was a failed state, but that Western governments did close to nothing to strike al Qaeda as it organised and plotted there, until it successfully attacked New York and Washington. Somalia today is as failed as a state can be and still be called a country, yet American special forces this week struck a severe blow to al Qaeda there with the killing of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. Failed state does not necessarily equal terrorist Shangri La.

Besides, Sudan in the 1990s was at least as functioning a state as Afghanistan could hope to be, yet Osama bin Laden found succour there, and America managed only to fling a few cruise missiles into his camp after he'd departed. The same is true of Yemen today. It has a reasonably-functioning government, but also its own growing al Qaeda problem. And the attacks of September 11th were planned at least as much in Hamburg as they were in Afghanistan. Functioning state does not necessarily equal a nation inhospitable to terrorists.

The threat of home-grown terrorists is what keeps the heads of Western intelligence agencies awake at night now. Core al Qaeda and its affiliates in Asia can inspire cells within Western countries and help radicalise disaffected Muslim youth in America and Europe with their internet postings, but the days in which they could provide significant funding and operational support are largely gone. The multitude of counterterror initiatives we have to thank for that—from increased surveillance to cracking down on international money transfers—have little to do with NATO soldiers dodging roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
Of course, there are potential political repercussions for violating the sovereignty of any nation that might choose to turn a blind eye to a resident al Queda training camp with cruise missiles.

Last edited by jfoobar; 09-16-09 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 09-16-09, 11:39 PM
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Re: "Why focus on failed states?"

Another tough pill to swallow is a Taliban victory over another world Superpower. That has ramifications down the road.

The lesson, of course: targeted strikes without occupation. But that certainly limits objectives.

It will also be hard to watch what happens to the citizens (especially women) after we withdraw.

Last edited by Th0r S1mpson; 09-16-09 at 11:41 PM.
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Old 09-17-09, 12:08 AM
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Re: "Why focus on failed states?"

We no longer have the stomach for war and our attempts to have a nice war generally ends up screwing us in the long run.
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Old 09-17-09, 12:31 AM
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Re: "Why focus on failed states?"

As I have no knowledge of geography, I completely agree with that blog post.
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Old 09-17-09, 05:07 AM
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Re: "Why focus on failed states?"

But we'll probably bail out California and New York from the mess that they're in...

Wait, what?
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