May 25, 2009

The contractor's PoV

Christian recommends this blog, among others, in an Afghan blog roundup piece.

Of the other ones he mentions, the one I already respected which I have inexplicably never yet linked to is Free Range International. The insights of poster Babatim in particular into what's really going on in Afstan today makes it a must-read.

Take this post as an example, which in addition to encapsulating Babatim's PoV rather well, also has the side-effect of passing on some much deserved kudos to "Dan," one of the two civilians working alongside Afghans who I was really happy to say I also met, and hopefully was able to help a little. (The other there would be Sarah Chayes, who is as charming in real life as in her writing.) It's always been too easy for civilians and non-civilians alike to settle for simplistic stereotypes of the other groups working here: really, though, the problem isn't "soldiers," or "NGOs" or even "Afghans": there's good and bad, effective and ineffective, in every group and organization (and everyone has their better and worse days, too, for that matter).

Posted by BruceR at 03:08 PM

McKiernan revisionism

Exum and Foust both take exception in their own way to the recent downgrading of Gen. McKiernan's reputation.

I link-hinted previously the general's sudden relief seemed more political than anything else. Yes, the stalemate had continued or worsened during his shortened watch, and stimulating accountability through "pour encourager les autres" tactics is not an idea without merit. But it's also true that what little I heard of the previous Afghan commander, many steps removed obviously, during my tour, had been positive. Nor do I recall anyone ever even suggesting in KAF in 2008-09 that a big part of Afghanistan's problem was the U.S. commander. YMMV.

Posted by BruceR at 01:32 PM

Zey are just a bunch of pansies!*

(*Strangely, it was hard for me to get through a day in Afghanistan without finding some occasion to quote either Julian or the penguins from Madagascar.)

Note to Americans: this whole, "we can't put terrorists in an American jail because then obviously we'd have to release them and give them citizenship too, or what if they escape and knock over a Quik-e Mart, or what if they exercise their Jedi mind tricks on our local criminals and turn those guys, who are all really nice guys in comparison, into Muslims" thing is just making you look to those of us in the rest of the world like a bunch of giant scaredy-cats. The whole Guantanamo thing did in the first place, too, of course, but now, hey, wow.

Posted by BruceR at 10:07 AM