A german friend of mine is in kabul doing some work with media, he wrote to me today mentioning of Afghan Western relation. Martin was saying that Afghan's expectations and cynism towards foreigners has reach a new level, as to my impression,
he is saying that sometimes he has the impression that Afghans put all foreigners in one box and hit on it. I put the blame on westeners it should be admitted that some westerners made grievous mistakes and contributed tremendously to the worsen situation if not causing it.
No doubt that there are numerous foreigners who lets say deserve to be in Afghanistan, in a sense that they are professional, culturally sensitive/receptive and above all respect afghans; but only one devious westerner *only a single one* is enough to be cynical and question them in a categorical term. its up to the rest of good westerners to criticise the conduct of the tricky single or group and do not side with them merely because they are fellow westerner. As a member of a group it’s the duty of the individual to bear some responsibility for the action of his groupmates. This sense of shared responsibility forms the basis of any constructive criticism of the group from within. Good westerners who are averse by the action of individuals who are socially categorised as your team-mates, then they have strong incentive to criticise and take action. I did not choose to be an afghan and I certainly did not want to become one; But because I am perceived socially from Afghanistan; I get the blame for the action of 30mil dim people, both personally and institutionally. Its up to me to criticise the conduct of my compatriots not to be pissed off with the rest of the world because the first is more constructive while the later has no outcome except for frustration.
There are two stories back to back in British media today. One on BBC trust admitting one of its popular programs (Top Gear) glamorised alcohol, and the response from the majority of British society though media is that it’s a load of bollocks. Top gear is great program and the trust shouldn’t have done it because one person found it offensive. One person complained that the program glamorised alcohol. Of course if you don’t know the program and the social context its hard to understand why the public are upset by the decision of the trust. The repeated theme is that it’s a program viewed by 11 mil people and why should trust denounce a good program because of one person.
The second story running in british media today is the story of a police ad in Dundee where a police public announcement uses a german shepherd (HERO) in a poster. The media reported that muslim community found the ad offensive. The truth of the matter is, it was not the muslim community but an individual who is sitting on the Dundee city council. He said muslims will refuse to display it in their shops.
In both these stories it comes to an individual in the first story the public consensus is that the guy who found the program offensive doesn’t matter and he is a wanker. In the second instance the public consensus is that the muslim councillor is not a hypocrite, but this is a ridiculous move by the muslim community; and the majority of muslims who wrote on this topic did not say that its an individual hypocrite who should have been ignored the same as in the case of top gear but they said this is not tolerable and its ridiculous.
So the point I make with the story is that if westerners feel cynicism in Afghanistan, which anyone in sound mind should not only feel but be seriously hindered, then they should take action against their fellow westerners who taint their name.
Here is an example of a westerner who shouldn’t have been to Afghanistan. morgan williams working for an NGO wrote a story for the daily mail, the tabloid paper, about her ‘adventures’ in Afghanistan. the story is disgusting, it tells the story of arrogance, incompetence and corrupt westernism. I have monitored the story and no body criticize it; as a matter of fact many people including internews picked it up as a story of pride, see here http://www.internews.org/articles/2008/20080419_dailymail_afghan.shtm.
Anybody in a sound mind with no knowledge of Afghanistan would ask if its OK to have bikini and booz in Kabul. And nobody wonders if she ever saw zakia; because the discrepancy of morgan and zakia life portrayed in this story would not only bring them together but make them enemies. I doubt if she had any conversation with zakia and she just heard these stories in her armoured car and she is using it to afghan-coat her adventures. I believe, the foreign community has brought it on themselves, they isolated themselves by setting up restaurants, bars and special entertainment places. They drive in their armoured cars, they have no contact with Afghans whatsoever. It took over five year for Afghans to become fed up with Morgan-type. westerners in Kabul are hypocritical, therefore they can’t be trusted. they talk of universality in equal human rights while they have established an apartheid regime supported by the aid mechanism which has successfully created another layer of governance undermining Karzai regime.
Afghanistan needs skilled people to help with reconstruction and there is plenty of aid money around to pay for westerners to come and work in Afghanistan. the number of skilled westerners who go to Afghanistan is far lower than the demand due to security fears. The question is weather you consider Morgan class people as skilled and ultimately the argument is whether Afghanistan should accept the conceited life style of westerners in exchange for their skills.