“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NATO Schmato

This is hard to believe:
Afghanistan may plunge into 'failed state,' experts warn

by P. Parameswaran2 hours, 2 minutes ago

Insurgency-wracked Afghanistan will become a failed state if urgent steps are not taken to tackle a deteriorating security situation and lackluster reconstruction and governance efforts, experts warned in separate reports Wednesday.

"Urgent changes are required now to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failing or failed state," said one report from the Atlantic Council of the United States, led by retired Marine Corps general James Jones.

It said Taliban militant control of the sparsely populated parts of Afghanistan was "increasing" and civil reforms, reconstruction, and development work "have not gained traction" across the country, especially in the south.

"To add insult to injury, of every dollar of aid spent on Afghanistan, less than ten percent goes directly to Afghans, further compounding reform and reconstruction problems," the report said.

Southern Afghanistan has seen the worst violence since the Taliban were ousted from power in the US-led invasion in 2001 following the September 11 terror attacks masterminded by Al-Qaeda, whose leaders were given sanctuary by the Taliban.

As US and NATO-led troops wage an uphill battle now to keep the Taliban at bay, civil sector reform "is in serious trouble" despite immense resources poured into the country and nearly seven years of efforts, the report said.

"If Afghanistan fails, the possible strategic consequences will worsen regional instability, do great harm to the fight against Jihadist and religious extremism," the report said.

It would also "put in grave jeopardy NATO's future as a credible, cohesive and relevant military alliance," it said, asking NATO nations unable to contribute more troops to redouble civilian reconstruction aid.

Europe needs to "wake up" to this crisis, said David Abshire, head of the Center for the Study of the Presidency, which examines the performances of the US presidents and relate its findings to present challenges.

The center's Afghanistan Study Group, co-chaired by Jones and former UN ambassador Thomas Pickering, said the "light footprint" in Afghanistan needed to be replaced with the "right footprint" by the United States and its allies.

The group called for the appointment of a US special envoy for Afghanistan, charged with coordinating all aspects of US policies toward it.

It also wanted the US administration and the Congress to "decouple" Iraq and Afghanistan in the legislative process and in the management of these conflicts in the executive branch.

US Senator John Kerry warned that Afghanistan could snowball into Vietnam-like turmoil.

"Absent a new focus and a transformed strategy, I fear that may be happening again in Afghanistan," said the ex-Vietnam War hero as he launched the expert reports at Capitol Hill.

Recent polls in Afghanistan reflect skepticism over the ability of Kabul and the international community to tackle critical problems such as insecurity, weak governance, widespread corruption, a poor economy and unemployment.

Reacting to the reports, the US State Department said there had been "real progress" since the Taliban ouster and underlined the need for NATO and others to maintain strong commitment to rebuilding Afghanistan and improving security.

"We know what a failed state in Afghanistan looks like. That was Afghanistan under the Taliban prior to 2001. Afghanistan today does not look like that," said department spokesman Sean McCormack.

"There has been real progress where Afghanistan was six years ago. Is there a long way to go? Absolutely," he said.
I'll be shocked if the Euros do anything significant. Despite cajoling and shaming, the Europeans have shown no interest in doing anything more than they done all along. Why don't we just let NATO go by the wayside? Oh, after Iran is dealt with.


  1. Watching the debate. Huck says the stimulus package will do more to stimulate the Chinese economy than our economy. Ought to widem Interstate 95 instead he says :)

    Afghanistan broke the Russians, and they fought.

  2. Republicans converged on California for an evening debate, their last before next Tuesday's round of contests with 1,023 convention delegates at stake.

    Obama and Clinton battled on roughly equal footing across a vast, uncertain political landscape, Democratic primaries in 15 states and caucuses in seven more plus American Samoa with 1,681 delegates at stake on Tuesday.

    Obama said it was time for a change, and he was the man to provide it.

    Evening Debate

  3. he,he--They got McCain to admit that, today, he wouldn't vote for his own earlier immigration bill:)

  4. That's funny. I'm sorry I missed that one.

  5. Following a British candidate's recent withdrawal from a competition to become the United Nations envoy to Afghanistan, eyes have turned to other candidates, including prominent Turkish politician Hikmet Çetin.

    British politician and former soldier Paddy Ashdown's withdrawal on Sunday came after Kabul said it favored a British NATO commander for the post. On Saturday, the Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Zahir Tanin, said Kabul wanted a British NATO commander, Gen. John McColl, to become the UN envoy rather than Ashdown.

    On Sunday Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta said the government preferred either McColl or Çetin.

    Post in Afghanistan

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