[News] Turning the Tables in Afghanistan - the Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 4 12:31:53 EDT 2012

October 04, 2012


Turning the Tables in Afghanistan

  The Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys


In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded 
cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game 
designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into 
the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous 
lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of 
attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. 
Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan 
counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban 
infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal 
disputes and misunderstandings.

So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American 
input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is 
to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do 
something deeply insulting, it's likely a product of cultural ignorance 
and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they've produced includes the 
following advice:

    "Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her
    nose in front of you."

    "When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement
    by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do
    this to you if they are proud of the job you've done. Once again,
    they don't mean to offend you."

    "When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put
    their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no
    means trying to offend you. They simply don't know or have forgotten
    the Afghan custom." (Pointing the soles of one's shoes at someone is
    considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)

    The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink
    at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their
    private parts while showering --- all inappropriate actions by
    Afghan standards.

Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that 
urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the 
Koran are all nothing more than good ol' Yankee customs, meaning no 
offense of course.

And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being 
tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home 
to American prisoners.

Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that 
bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for 
their own good. It's called "freedom and democracy".

I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. They're 
"can-do" Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to 
thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that 
sentiment, and they're frustrated as hell, unable to figure out "why 
they hate us", why we can't win them over, why we can't at least wipe 
them out. Don't they want freedom and democracy? ... They're can-do 
Americans, using good ol' American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, 
sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, 
just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, 
even anthropologists ... and nothing helps. And how can it if the 
product you're selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you're 
ruining your customers' lives, with no regard for any kind of law or 
morality, health or environment. They're can-do Americans, used to 
playing by the rules --- theirs; and they're frustrated as hell.

/*William Blum* is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA 
Interventions Since World War II 
Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567511945/counterpunchmaga> and 
West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1887128727/counterpunchmaga>. He 
can be reached at: BBlum6 at aol.com <mailto:%20BBlum6 at aol.com>/

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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