What a mess
Muse #211 - of power and structures
We have been all watching the events unfold in Afghanistan. And what a mess it is. Growing up in India our history lessons were structured to teach us about the past Afghan invaders and settlers in the Indus sub-continent. A lot of people here in North America would hardly know even where Afghanistan is and have a cultural context to what the Middle Eastern region is about.
Over the years, various invaders through the Middle East to India included Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan. And of course, the South Asian and Middle Eastern sub-continent was and is a smorgasbord of religion, genetics, heritage, art, language, customs leading to completely original and ethnic culture than the Western mixes of culture we are used to here.
The British, of course, tried to bring their own instantiation of culture to India through the East India Company in order to take advantage of the local resources and including cheap labor. After the British exit, somehow India has managed to hang in there and become the world’s largest democracy. But, other countries have not been so lucky - including Pakistan and Bangladesh, which have struggled more with it.
The West has tried to slap such democracy as a forced culture in Afghanistan and we can see now how this has panned out here and in other places like Iraq. Not so much. And this is no different from the atrocities here in Canada for converting indigenous children to Western practices. Forced culture is a shame. Culture has to evolve, not be directed in order to be successful to some degree and that includes democracy and capitalism.
In 2015-16, for over 18 months, I traveled to Boise Idaho from Toronto each week to coach at Micron Technologies. While there, I met a Uber driver who was an Afghan interpreter for the US army who became a friend over that time. We used to talk about how he ended up in the US and his struggles of survival for himself and his family. The lack of transferable skills and the inability to acquire basic language skills - his wife was still learning to read and write English in night school after five years in the US as an example. His kids adapted well to modern America and were doing reasonably well in their education. I helped him switch to Square to help bypass the 30% cut that Uber took out of his paycheck and I fondly remember taking him and his family for dinner to bid farewell before leaving Boise for good.
The complexity of the environment is well known even before the US and the allies went in there. (See picture below and read the article from 2010 on General McCrystal and his PowerPoint)
So, I can relate to the turmoil that we see in Afghanistan a little more than most spectators. And we in the name of democracy and justice ended up (The US and the United Nations) creating this mess by meddling in cultural, tribal practices, local warlords, and power structures that we don’t fully understand. And this is not going to be the last of it. The lessons are not really learned and never will be. That is the most unfortunate part.
Is Afghanistan really a 'graveyard of empires'? - https://nationalpost.com/news/is-afghanistan-really-a-graveyard-of-empires
Map Explainer: Key Facts About Afghanistan - https://www.visualcapitalist.com/map-explainer-key-facts-about-afghanistan/
The McChrystal Afghanistan PowerPoint slide: can you do any better? - https://www.theguardian.com/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2010/apr/27/afghanistan-microsoft https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/29/mcchrystal-afghanistan-powerpoint-slide
To 1st Jan 2050: 11,362 days to go.