UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 5, 2009

GRAVEYARD OF EMPIRES UPDATE

NY Times - The mood of the Afghan people has tipped into a popular revolt in some parts of southern Afghanistan, presenting incoming American forces with an even harder job than expected in reversing military losses to the Taliban and winning over the population.

Villagers in some districts have taken up arms against foreign troops to protect their homes or in anger after losing relatives in airstrikes, several community representatives interviewed said. Others have been moved to join the insurgents out of poverty or simply because the Taliban's influence is so pervasive here. . .

"We Muslims don't like them - they are the source of danger," said a local villager, Hajji Taj Muhammad, of the foreign forces. His house in Marja, a town west of this provincial capital that has been a major opium trading post and Taliban base, was bombed two months ago, he said. . .

"Now there are more people siding with the Taliban than with the government," said Abdul Qadir Noorzai, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in southern Afghanistan.

Mathew Parris, Times, UK - In the fog, remember: victory is impossible in Afghanistan It's easy to be blinded by the valiant effort, as well as the acronyms and euphemisms. But the harsh truth does not change

It's important not to understand. It's important not to learn. In the total buggeration into which the world's help for Afghanistan has now descended, it's important not to know too much. Accept that somebody some day may understand, but it isn't going to be you. Somebody some day may grab the Gordian knot and cut it, but it isn't going to be us. Know only that. To know more is to know less. . .

I'm here as the guest of the International Security Assistance Force, which sort-of is NATO and sort-of isn't - and, no, don't try to resolve this: it can't. . . . And yesterday I forgot my glasses. As I stared unfocused at my notes the acronyms swam forward, their small-print meanings swam away, and I saw only acronyms.

And in the meaninglessness I suddenly saw meaning. It is this. The entire operation is up its own bottom, lost in committees, strategies and initiatives. Forget what these monstrous letters stand for. Grasp, instead, the essential incoherence.

AFPAK, ANCOP, ANDS, ANP, ANSF, APPS, ASNF, AAQ/FF, APP, CARD, CDC, CISCA, CISTICA, CJTF, CN, CNPA (ANP), COMISAF, CPCC, CSOFC, CSTC, ECC, EUPOL, FDD, FTD, GPI, HIG, HIGHK, ICPT, IDLG, IGLC, INFO-OPS, IRCTA, ISAF, IU, MCN, NDCS, NDS, OCCC, OEF, OMLET, OPDIESEL, PC, PRT, SITC, UNODC, UNPOL, TB . . .

Acronyms are not the only refuge. Others lullaby their brains to sleep swathed in the acrylic blankets of a new language now suffocating the ministries, missions and shirt-sleeved development-wallahs in shiny white Toyota 4x4s: a hideous hybrid of NGO-speak, Whitehall-chic, political pap and military jargon . . .

Across the piece
, agent for change, alternative livelihoods, asymmetric means of operation, capability milestones, civilian surge, conditionality, demand- reduction, drivers of radicalisation, fixed-wing assets, fledgeling capabilities, injectors of risk, kinetic situation, licit livelihoods, light footprint, lily pads, messaging campaign, partnering- and-mentoring, capacity-building, strategic review, reconciliation and reintegration, rolling out a top-down approach, shake - clear - hold - build, upskilling.


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