We really want to help Afghanistan. We fight the Taliban, we build roads, we give billions in aid to its government, but sometimes the Afghans are naughty. They don’t understand what’s good for them. And that’s when we…. well, I’ll just let our unnamed military source explain:
In another recent operation in the Zhari district, U.S. soldiers fired more than a dozen mine-clearing line charges in a day. Each one creates a clear path that is 100 yards long and wide enough for a truck. Anything that is in the way – trees, crops, huts – is demolished.
“Why do you have to blow up so many of our fields and homes?” a farmer from the Arghandab district asked a top NATO general at a recent community meeting.
Although military officials are apologetic in public, they maintain privately that the tactic has a benefit beyond the elimination of insurgent bombs. By making people travel to the district governor’s office to submit a claim for damaged property, “in effect, you’re connecting the government to the people,” the senior officer said.
That’s right, a senior officer in our military maintains that by destroying an Afghan’s home, we are improving his relationship with the government. This is like shooting a Christian Scientist in the leg to provide a better understanding of the benefits of modern medicine.
Afghan’s associate their government with the American military. How could they not, we train the police forces and army, we support the government, and act in the country with their support. So when an American tank levels your ancestral home and the field that you’ve been tending for the past 4 months, wouldn’t you connect that action with the government? And wouldn’t that make you pretty unhappy with the government? And even if the government gave you a check, would that make up for the fact that your home was just blown up during the weeks and months that you were trying to rebuild your home?
The last paragraph was a complete waste of time because it obvious to just about anyone that the costs of blowing up homes and fields of the civilians you are trying to win to your side, outweigh any intangible benefit from “connecting” those same angry people to their government. Except our senior military officials.
H/T James Fallows