Ann Marlowe: Our Ghettos Work, So Why Doesn’t Afghanistan?

by Joshua Foust on 1/1/2009 · 1 comment

I think I can meaningfully excerpt this Ann Marlowe essay, since it is so very, very wrong. I don’t know when or where “we” have “treat[ed] ghetto culture in the U.S.,” but comparing Afghanistan to, say, Crenshaw, is idiotic. But let’s try anyway.

  • By and large, Afghans are relentlessly present-oriented, unable to delay gratification, macho, authoritarian, fatalistic, passive, disorganized and feckless when it comes to responsibilities.
  • While Afghans aren’t nearly as violent as Americans on an individual basis, as a group, they have had trouble figuring out ways of working out their differences through discussion rather than warfare.
  • We in the West are so lacking in cultural confidence these days that we are not willing to come out and say what we ought to: The culture of Afghanistan is dysfunctional, and that’s why it became a failed state and a haven for terrorists.
  • This belief that the people of Basra and Mazar and Kandahar have the same potential as we Americans underlies the much-maligned neo-con project.
  • If neoconservatism appealed to Jews, among whom I count myself, it was because we of all groups know a sense of urgency in trying to do right: “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

Just… wow. I’m all about helping Afghanistan to become great again, but it’s difficult to believe that any paper, even Forbes, actually pays money for that crap.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

mumbaikar January 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Take a look at this 1939 Tata Airline Route map. Tata Airline now has become Air-India, but if you look at the top left of the map which shows the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the situation is till the same. 70 years! and we have not seen a change here. Something to consider when planning a surge.

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