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George.
10-21-2009, 07:47 AM
I feel sad for the Afghans. It took us here in Brazil a few decades to get the democracy thing right, and we started out from, say, just before the Enlightenment (which I hope will be coming our way soon). Afghanistan is starting from the end of the Dark Ages - politically, it seems, they are not even where Europe was in the 1200s.

Of course, here in Brazil we didn't have to live with the threat of NATO bombs if we voted wrong. The worst that ever came our way during our growing pains was a Cold War coup and a huge national debt, much of which ended up in Switzerland.

I am sorry, but I just can't see this working out.

Milo Christensen
10-21-2009, 08:30 AM
Perhaps this explains the apparent indecision in the Obama administration over McChrystal's troop request.

George.
10-21-2009, 08:58 AM
In the delusional American narrative, invasions of other countries always end with elections, and then they live happily ever after. In the real world, that only seems to have worked for Germany and Japan.

Nicholas Carey
10-21-2009, 03:20 PM
In the delusional American narrative, invasions of other countries always end with elections, and then they live happily ever after. In the real world, that only seems to have worked for Germany and Japan.
There's social and cultural norms and mores that need to be in place before democracy can work -- beliefs in little things like free speech, primacy of the individual, etc.

That all takes a lot of nurturing and generations to grow. You can't instill democracy at the point of a gun.

PeterSibley
10-21-2009, 04:03 PM
There's social and cultural norms and mores that need to be in place before democracy can work -- beliefs in little things like free speech, primacy of the individual, etc.

That all takes a lot of nurturing and generations to grow. You can't instill democracy at the point of a gun.

I don't know , I reckon a 100 year occupation , say 4 generations , an occupation force of 2 million troops ...then elections ,it might work .

WX
10-21-2009, 04:26 PM
You have a government made up of expats from the US, hand picked by the Bush administration who have only self interest at heart. You can't get good government from that....only greed and corruption.

PeterSibley
10-21-2009, 04:36 PM
You have a government made up of expats from the US, hand picked by the Bush administration who have only self interest at heart. You can't get good government from that....only greed and corruption.
That part seems to be working .

seanz
10-21-2009, 05:25 PM
New election?
I thought it was a run-off election from the previous Presidential election.
Normal? Yes/No/Maybe?

George.
10-22-2009, 07:13 AM
There's social and cultural norms and mores that need to be in place before democracy can work -- beliefs in little things like free speech, primacy of the individual, etc.



Actually, my experience in Brazil has been that notions of free speech and primacy of the individual come early in the process. The hard parts are teaching people to follow pre-established rules and plans even when it would be expedient to discard them, and to submit to majority rule even when it is against the individual's interest.

Back in the 1980s, in public hearings or other political gatherings, everyone would talk, no one would want to listen, and the hardest thing to do was to get people to shut up - the general notion was that freedom of speech meant freedom to say anything for as long as you want, even at the cost of totally disrupting a meeting. Nowadays, the public is starting to understand that it is more important to stick to the agenda, give everyone their turn, and come to closure. Also, they are learning to value consensus more than a multiplicity of entrenched positions. That is the tricky bit in democracy.

Notice that this process took 30 years, that Brazil has had a native republican movement since the 18th century, and that even during the military dictatorship our culture valued freedom and democracy as much as any Western nation. Compare that to Afghanistan, where other than the tradition of the Loya Jirga, all notions of republican government are imported.

George.
10-22-2009, 07:53 AM
This morning's NYT contains an editorial that offers this shovelful of mushroom food:


“I HOPE people who say this war is unwinnable see stories like this. This is what winning in a counterinsurgency looks like.”

Lt. Col. William F. McCollough, commander of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, is walking me around the center of Nawa, a poor, rural district in southern Afghanistan’s strategically vital Helmand River Valley. His Marines, who now number more than 1,000, arrived in June to clear out the Taliban stronghold. Two weeks of hard fighting killed two Marines and wounded 70 more but drove out the insurgents. Since then the colonel’s men, working with 400 Afghan soldiers and 100 policemen, have established a “security bubble” around Nawa.

Colonel McCollough recalls that when they first arrived the bazaar was mostly shuttered and the streets empty. “This town was strangled by the Taliban,” he says. “Anyone who was still here was beaten, taxed or intimidated.”

Today, Nawa is flourishing. Seventy stores are open, according to the colonel, and the streets are full of trucks and pedestrians. Security is so good we were able to walk around without body armor — unthinkable in most of Helmand, the country’s most dangerous province. The Marines are spending much of their time not in firefights but in clearing canals and building bridges and schools. On those rare occasions when the Taliban try to sneak back in to plant roadside bombs, the locals notify the Marines.

There’s No Substitute for Troops on the Ground (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/opinion/22boot.html)

Sounds great, right? So why do I say it's BS? Why, math, of course. From Wikipedia:


Nawa is a large district in the far south of Ghazni Province, Afghanistan. It is situated 100 km south from Ghazni in a mountainous region. Its population, which is 100% Pashtun, was estimated at 29,054 in 2002

If it takes 1000 Marines plus local support troops to clear and hold Nawa district, and there are 40 million Pashtuns in the warzone, then the US needs to send 1,379,000 troops. Forty thousand troops will be enough to "pacify" just over a million Pashtuns.

Unfortunately the public is not so good at using math to spot BS.