4 years ago
Now comes the worst Afghanistan analysis I have ever read. Quoth Michael Hughes:
General David Petraeus, in a rare public show of indecorum, last week suggested that corruption has been a part of Afghan culture since the country came into existence, which is a sentiment that is not only, from a historical and anthropological perspective, wholly ignorant, but one that exposes intentions on the General’s part that seem both dubious as well as misplaced.
Reason being is that Petraeus is a smart guy – one doubts he seriously subscribes to the notion that corruption is some inherently Afghan deformity, especially considering a cursory reading of history informs that prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979 jobbery was no worse in Afghanistan than it was in the United States (when, odds are, graft was worse in Chicago than Kabul). Most embarrassing for Petraeus to look at is the direct role the U.S. played in corrupting Afghan society. So, not only is it false that the country was always this way, the reality is the U.S. has helped transform Afghanistan into one of the most corrupt places on the planet.
Unfortunately, it seems Petraeus was simply trying to protect the good name of Afghanistan’s top criminal, President Hamid Karzai – subtly painting Mr. Karzai as a victim awash in a culture of venality when the truth is that the Karzai family has sunk Afghan society to unparalleled depths of libidinous fraud, nepotism and extortion.
The General apparently believes he needs Karzai intact so he can execute a more seamless exit strategy, which doesn’t make sense because Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrine depends on winning the support of the local populace, which is mission impossible with Karzai as head of state.
For surely Petraeus must realize, as outlined in a new white paper by the New World Strategies Coalition, that not only was Afghanistan less corrupt during the forty-year reign of King Zahir Shah, a run that began in the 1930s and ended in the early 1970s, but the Afghan people also enjoyed unprecedented peace, stability, prosperity and progressive social reform. That type of society seems like ancient folklore in light of today’s conditions.
The before and after snapshots are mind-blowing, illustrating a near incogitable contrast between an Afghanistan that was free from external interventions versus an Afghanistan that is occupied and manipulated by foreign powers that have marginalized, weakened and corrupted centuries-old indigenous tribal institutions and value systems. One is challenged to find another example of a society that has experienced such dramatic economic, political, technological and cultural regression in such a short time period.
The state had been erected upon lessons learned through centuries trying to maintain peace within an insular acephalous tribal society with a penchant for infighting and was most functional when it resembled a “loose” confederation in which legislative and judicial powers were pushed down to the local level – a concept analogous to America’s states’ rights.
Good Lord! Good Lord! So much to cover, so little time. I cannot possibly address all of the misconceptions and concept and word twisting. Let me briefly address only a few.
Here we see the blame game at work. Evil has to have an origin, a nexus, and is so bad that it must have someone to blame. Enter evil American imperialism. We have discussed American imperialism before, and Robert Kaplan’s first chapter to “Imperial Grunts” (Injun Nation), which all educated analysts must read. There are deeper issues concerning the ethics and morality of defending the homeland abroad that should be considered in order to be complete and responsible in our analysis, such as the notion of Good Wars. There is so much to consider, and so little time. Alas.
But dumbing this down to finding a boogie man that makes everything else bad is silly and ludicrous. Mankind – all mankind – has fallen short of the glory of God. All mankind is fallen, all mankind is sinful. There is no noble savage, no such thing as the pristine, unmolested man who is corrupted by outside influences, whether American or Afghani.
The heart of man is the wellspring of death. It cannot be attributed to a state, a plan, a person, a persona, or a place. No amount of money causes good or bad. Money can be used to provide medical care, or largesse to corrupt. Guns can be used to defend women and children, or kill them. Military materiel can be used to eject evil Soviet aggression against a hapless state, or cut off the heads of women who refuse to cooperate in their own abuse and subjugation. Things are what the theologians call adiaphourous. They are neither good nor bad. Man is what puts them to use.
Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9, Ecclesiastes 9:3, Romans 3:11 and many other passages show that it is man who is the nexus and conduit of evil in the world. Michael Hughes doth imagine a devil around every corner, or at least, the corner of America. Michael needs only to look at the hearts of the people who perpetrate evil against others. They’re everywhere, Michael, not just in America.