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

Friday, January 16, 2009

Democracy in Afghanistan and the issue of empowerment

Remember what I wrote a couple of days ago of what a broad interpretation of "empowerment" could/should be in the case of Afghanistan?
Here is Morgan Sheeran, a US National Guard veteran of Afghanistan commenting on an article that wasn't nearly as smart as the comment he sent in.
If you follow the link, you need to scroll down for Sheeran's comment patiently. But I will paste a part of it here:
"I believe that Afghans do, in fact, have a tradition of democratic practices (after a fashion.) Their local "informal" governance is generally provided by jirga and shura, practices which are semi-democratic. Representation at these councils is by elders, who while not elected in the Western sense, represent through consent of the represented. When a loss of confidence in an elder is established, that elder no longer bears the same weight. While this consent is not as quantifiable as an election, the elder so chosen often has more of a mandate than say, Sen Al Franken will have after the many recounts. If it turns out that he is the winner of the election, his margin is so slim and doubtful as to to be much less than the mandate that a local elder has in a district Shura. It is Afghan, and it works. Many Afghans who are familiar with democratic practices are supremely disappointed with the central appointment of provincial governors and district sub-governors.
Afghans crave good governance, and most of all crave impartial justice. While good governance and dispensing with corruption are things that can be mentored, Islamic justice is not something with which we have experience and provides a specific and critical Islam-related challenge that must be solved.
Some of our Western values will seep in over the course of generations, and while regretable, truly need to be shelved at this point. Stressing equality of the sexes at this point, for example, only feeds insurgent messages of anti-Islamic Western values. The change there will need to creep in through the same means by which they crept into each of our societies; via education, slow influence, internal change and demonstration of other ways such as in popular media. This is not what some will wish to hear, but the problems in Afghanistan at this point are so fundamental and tenuous as to be easily swept aside by pushing our values to that point."

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