Life Under Marjah

by Joshua Foust on 3/18/2010 · 4 comments

Anand Gopal has an excellent piece on Marjeh before Moshtarak:

Many Marjah residents say that the two years of Taliban rule were better than the six years of Afghan government rule that preceded it. The Taliban ruling apparatus was not sophisticated, but for the rugged, simple town of Marjah it met the bare-minimum requirements. This was not necessarily a positive appraisal of the Taliban; rather it was an indictment of the Afghan government and its Western backers…

The Taliban’s protection of the drug economy—which many in Marjah are involved in—and the provision of rudimentary services (judiciary, policing, and some development) won them support from the local population.

It’s a point I’ve repeated here ad nauseum as well. Good on him for seeking out locals to talk to.


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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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{ 4 comments }

Guptan Veemboor March 18, 2010 at 9:10 am

In earlier centuries Christian missionaries wanted to convert pagans to Christianity. Now US wants to convert the simple tribal folks to democracy. It would have been better if people were left to their own devices and not impose something alien to them over them.

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Mr Veemboor, I think that Americans are tired and just want to leave…willing to even leave all their “stuff” there. It’s like a guy driving down Madison Square not looking at pedestrians. Soon he can’t see though his windshield from all the blood of victims he hits and when his wipers are stuck by blood he gets exasperated, abandons car and walks home saying to himself: “Those people are so messy!” That’ what we did with Vietnam. Ironically, the people who will easily open their pockets to send money for victims of hurricane, fire or flood can have no empathy for people where they came to show their manhood with their superior weapons. Man is an internal contradiction and nowhere did it seem more apparent than in combat. But still, we lose and attribute it to those “backward people’s” bloody messiness as if they’re too stupid to do things our way. For the careerists who profit from such dumb empire our mom&dad soldiers must pay with life and limb. That’s the crime!

Bobby March 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

Except that the Afghan tradition of shuras and zunes, at the lowest level of quasi-government, has always been inherently more democratic and representative than what people give them credit– certainly moreso than any comparable culture in the West, to include the ancient Greeks. If anything, the Kabul government the international community is supporting is more powerful, more centralized, and in turn LESS democratic than what Afghan society is accustomed to seeing in a central government.

It’s a nice talking point, Guptan, but as a description of reality, it falls flat on its face.

shahzad March 20, 2010 at 6:29 am

Humans are continuously passing thru a series of experiments to attain peace and prosperity in their lives.
I dont feel any hesitation to live under the rule of Taliban, if Islam will provide me and my fellow human beings a peaceful and prosperous world to live in.

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