Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Another Day On The Eastern Front.

A bit over the top: Jason Thomas, a former aid official in Afghanistan, opines that Afghan president Hamid Karzai's goal of phasing out foreign private security firms in the country is laudable, but it will make the place even more dangerous for foreign aid workers. That's because they will have to rely instead on the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army, "arguably two of the most corrupt and incompetent organizations in the country."

The move will quite likely make things more dangerous for certain foreigners, but it is a bit much for Thomas to cite as an example his jitters about the prospect of being subjected to a "shakedown" at a checkpoint in Kabul while carrying $250,000 in cash. He further hinders his case by slagging off the ANA and the ANP in that way - it certainly doesn't reflect the way ordinary Afghans view their cops and their soldiers.

I can't count the number of times I've been waved aside to be given the once-over at ANA and ANP checkpoints (even at the very traffic circle in Kabul Thomas mentions), while travelling with rough-looking Afghans in dodgy vehicles, besides, and certainly not giving the cops any cause to show me any special deference or even notice that I was a foreigner. And not once were the Afghan cops and soldiers anything less than polite and professional. A bit youthfully nervous and awkwardly new to their duties, maybe, but always at ease after a bit of teasing and cheerfulness.

There is no dearth of thieves and scamps among the tens of thousands of recent recruits to the ANP and the ANA, but it is the safety and the security of Afghans working for private Afghan security firms that might command a bit more of our attention, as this grisly incident shows. At least 21 (perhaps twice as many) private security guards are dead today after a savage night-time Taliban attacked a road-building project, "killing everyone, whoever was sleeping, and our guards were running away from their posts and Taliban were hitting them with their vehicles,” said Mohammed Tahir, one of the guards. “My brothers were working there, and I do not yet know what happened to them.”

But this is very encouraging news. Anything that tightens the noose around the necks of the white-collar extortionists, racketeers and ripoff artists who prey upon the Afghan people from their comfy sinecures in the most senior levels of the Afghan government is a thing to be hopeful and happy about.

This, however, is just the sort of dizzy sanctimony that rich white television journalists should take pains to avoid when they're giving out of themselves about Afghanistan. It's Katie Couric of CBS News talking about Afghan women: "Following the fall of the Taliban many got their first taste of freedom, education and possibility, and it seems particularly cruel to have it suddenly snatched away. Protecting human rights alone may not justify a massive military commitment, but whether you support this war or not, remember these people."

You'd be taken more seriously if you spent less time on your hair and more time on your spine, Ms. Couric. This is what Afghans are up against: An Afghan civilian was found dead and tied to a sign between two improvised explosion devices in Kandahar province today. The man had been shot in the head before being tied up. The IEDs appear to have been placed near his body to target first responders attempting to help him.


Blogger vildechaye said...

have you read all the fawning reports on Assange from that asshole Glenn Greenwald at Salon. Revolting.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

I try to avoid Greenwald. Couldn't be bothered. But notice the NYT article on Assange he links to today. Greenwald's version is mysteriously missing its second paragraph: "Julian Assange, who was believed to be in Sweden, remained under suspicion of a lesser crime of molestation in a separate case, prosecutors said."

12:55 PM  

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