What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Problems with blood pressure? Don't read and watch this

I have written about John D. McHugh's online diary from eastern Afghanistan before - see here and here. Now, thanks to an anonymous commenter at Abu Muqawama, here's a link to some video footage McHugh shot in Mangritay village, right near the Pakistani border.
When I've read his original account of an April 21 visit there (which is the one you can see in the vid), I thought the U.S. soldiers were not understanding enough of the locals' concerns. The villagers made the point to them that because of insurgents coming from over the border, they can't do much else than remain passive while the nearby U.S. base gets rocketed from their area.
Now I see this totally differently. Now I think that the U.S. soldiers were not understanding enough of the locals' concerns, and they couldn't have been, even if they would have wanted to be, with the interpreter they had.
Watch this and get freaked out at your own peril.
Now that you got freaked out, let me just say that the interpreter wasn't the only person who hasn't mastered his job there. The Ranger officer talking to the elder doesn't really behave like Charles "3-block warfare" Krulak's strategic corporal. I understand it that being entirely FM 3-24-compatible is very difficult when your company got rocketed from an area 200 times in the last 12 months, but at least then you should get it that you can't just ask the local elder to shoot the nearest insurgent "in the ------- face." In my humble opinion, as much as it matters, maybe you should get it that that will not be your solution.
Even if you can't catch the elder's smart talk of wheat and ants.
200 rockets in a year... in such a small piece of AO (area of operations)... Oh my. Spontaneous local resentment of ugly colonials in a country that always convinced invaders to leave??? Whoever thinks so should stop kidding oneself into thinking so.
The villagers of Mangritay are not shooting anyone in the ------- face.
Pic below: The elder from the vid and some others conversing with the officer - source: John D. McHugh.

Alright, I'll have to get back to work. I'll have an exam tomorrow... even doctoral students do have exams sometimes and at this one I'm likely to get as much understanding as there was in the above pictured situation. So back to world economics...

Update (July 4): Good points at Ignoble Savagery. Quote:

"I will remark this much though on the “Afghanistan - Lost in Translation” video. The American officer is interested in “Fuck yeah!” or “Oh Hell no!” sort of answers; and the translator is perceptive enough to attempt to provide just such an answer. (...) The poor translator may be a city slicker who himself is equally confused by the metaphor of ants and grains. At least the elder doesn’t break into poetry which can be even more difficult to decipher."

1 comment:

fm said...

Your freak out advisory warning wasn't nearly enough. I am totally freaked out beyond all help by that video.

Talk about making things worse, not better...