Thursday, May 13, 2010

Barefoot or Bare-brained: Trusting Your Way Out of Chaos

The tragi-comedy of errors UN-NATO military efforts in Afghanistan is a minefield of amateurish gaffs and cock-ups.

What's wrong with this photo?

Aside from the obvious - winning confidence and trust whilst still wearing ballistic protection and sporting the latest automatic weapon might have the opposite desired outcome - just take a closer look at these bozos (the ones in camouflage, not the local fellows). They are obviously guests. Now look at the local fellows: You will note that the local fellows have bare feet. This is customary in Muslim communities; entering someone's home (or the mosque) one takes his/her shoes off. We are talking entry-level cultural sensitivity here; even this very elementary of cross-cultural behaviours, the US-NATO cannot manage to get right.

And I am quite certain that there are rules and SOPs about wearing your ballistic vest at all times, keeping your weapon by your side, and never taking your shoes off; but, are these troops here to win a war or comply with procedures?

Another doozie is the following quote from Colonel Randy George (of the Fourth Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division):

“We’re not worried about corruption in itself, but we are worried about governance.”

I can't decide if the tautology and gross misapprehension embodied in this statement is deliciously amusing or vaguely terrifying. Perhaps it's both!

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