Afghanistan and the West

I don't know much about Afghanistan, except the broad outlines of its history. Hellenic, Persian, Muslim, British, Russian, Taliban...and then there is now. The free West, allied under the umbrella of NATO is in charge of babysitting the young democracy of Afghanistan. From the debates and information available in general media, the most important issue seems to be the fight against the Taliban in the South. Also there is increasing mention of fighting in the North. There is plenty of fear as we witness the power of tribalism in Afghan politics. So what the hell are we doing over there?

I recently saw two quite different documentaries about Afghanistan. The first one a BBC4 Doc about an Afghan Ladies Driving School in Kabul. This was a very shocking documentary, in the sense that change and opposition to change were very subtle. How a regular Afghan male was supposed to talk to a female and how she ought to respect his authority was made visible in a very personal manner. Seeing this, I became a reserved optimist. People in Kabul are willing to sideline traditional behavior and step into modernity, with all its perversion and questionable freedoms.

Another one I saw this afternoon, is from the Dutch documentary series Zembla (and is in Dutch). Here is a journalist risking his life by reporting unembedded from the Afghan province under Dutch control Uruzgan. Control is something the NATO forces do not have. Development of Afghan infrastructure is evenly unimaginable under these circumstances. This documentary left me thinking how absurd a situation we got ourselves into. Pretending to be peacekeepers, while actually allowing a terrible status quo to grow. Not investing nearly enough to make a sustainable change for security and failing to win a guerilla war with a power that is technologically retarded. I feel that there is a War on Terror, but there is not nearly enough effort to make a real change in Afghanistan...Never mind Iraq.


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