Friday, January 19, 2007

The Name of the Game

Inconsistency, it is. I’ve proven my fealty to that, blog wise at least (blah blah blah…apologize…blah blah blah…empty promise for the opposite…blah blah blah…blah blah blah).

I call it adapting, though.

Adaptability may be one of the most strident qualities of the Afghans, as is fairly obvious and well noted, and I still remain constantly astounded by stories I hear. Though, the consequences of adaptability lie on both sides of any normative analysis or coarse assessments of what’s the situation and prescription here. Lack of fealty is probably one of the most malleable consequences in terms of being cast both as a positive and negative.

Simply, it may break down to a chicken/egg thing, both the cause and consequence of nothing in this place seeming to have any permanency. It’s not so much that there is an absence, but transience everywhere (and there probably is a link to the fatalism ascribed to regional cultures and Islam with this). It’s not that everything flitters around here, it’s that the ground, literally is constantly on the move. It’s a bad thing to hold on to, and even hope for, something solid. Yet, I’m convinced (partly out of a need to rationalize my own perspective, attitude and actions) adaptability is stridently good. But the consequences do make for damn difficult circumstances and contexts to work in. And contexts are only useful with content, and content needs objectivity, transient or not…just not as long as it’s not transcendental.

Now that I’ve once again shaken off everyone, let me get to some useful content. As has been noted and blogged about on other blogs linked here (see Hamesha’s and the newly linked Roland’s blog), the big news items are the recent attempted attack in Kabul, and the Afghans that thwarted it’s effectiveness, the Anne Applebaum article on the opium issue here, and the recent talks about more US troops here.

The attack, and the Afghans involved in the stopping of it, I hope will affect the discussion of more troops here, in that, at least in Kabul, it indicates that the US/foreign presence here isn’t largely, or rather wholly, unwelcome. That it occurred when the US Sec. of Defense Gates was here, I, cynically, take as a good thing (though this article, on a military-centric website, makes no mention of the Afghans that apparently did the brunt of the work in thwarting the attack).

On the Applebaum article, I’m glad to see that the idea has gotten some press. It’s an old topic here, especially the talk about Turkey’s privileged status and why the western gov’ts (and I think as much fault goes to the EU as the US here) won’t seem to even discuss the idea of Afghanistan being granted similar status (I would love to hear that I am wrong on this though). My first guess would be the self-interest both the US and EU have in not taking such a program away from Turkey, though I am guessing they really don’t need it that much more…unless the regions that produce opium there are Kurdish…then the complexity and reluctance on both seem understandable, though not necessarily justifiable.

Also, Senlis, a French NGO has been pushing the idea for a while, and even has a full report on mainstreaming and legalizing opium production here. I haven’t read the report in full yet. Also, I would think that both Pakistan and India would come behind such an effort, as especially India has a well-established pharmaceutical industry. It seems like such a program would be workable and a win-win for several of the actors in this region.

Though, at least on the US policy/rhetoric front, all that would require some adaptability…

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