Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the Middle East . . . and Us.

A new colleague at work let me look at an article he’s working on about the current situation in Afghanistan.  It hasn’t been published yet, so I can’t source it, but it contains a quote that is supposedly circulating at high levels around the DOS:

Governance is a less tangible or measurable term, more organic, and having more to do with the political affairs and conditions of a given area.  We almost always conflate society and the state -- this in a country which has always prized informal, non-state local mechanisms to run its affairs.  Most rural Afghans are less concerned about tashkiels and social services than they are about practices like inclusivity and access to community decision making in an environment of safety.  For most villages, inclusivity and access to community decision making in an environment of safety.  For most villages, governance is less about the state, and more about a state of affairs; a set of conditions involving tribal balance, security, and having the sense that decisions which affect them are made with their interests in mind.  The definition, in other words, has less to do with the capabilities of the state than it has to do with the qualitative aspects of good political governance and stewardship over an area.  In most districts that are experiencing progress, it is the quality of this type of governance, not mostly our investment in professional social service delivery, that accounts for it.  Indeed, as we are learning, our own development strategies work best when their focus is less on the immediate development objective and more on building lasting community cohesion.

Where I part ways with the author is on what seems to be his tacit assumption that United States policy makers and AID officers have any idea how to build community cohesion.  But the bolded phrase above stood out, especially considering the events that have rocked this part of the world in recent months.

W. F. Price gives the blow-by-blow (literally) of the incident that started it all.  Now, I’m not going to pretend to have any particular concern for the plight of Muslim men in the grip of feminist-modernist governments; they aren’t my people or my country.  I do have some concern for the fate of Egypt’s Christian community, but let’s face it:  those poor bastards are gonna get FUBARed anyway (H.T.:  Gates of Vienna, I think) whether Mubarak stays in power or not.  The blogroll consensus is surely correct:  any revolutionary government is almost certain to become Islamist, but while this may represent a net loss to civilization, there really isn’t anything we can do about it that we’re likely to do.

But I have my own country to worry about, and I fear for its future.  Feminists exult in their triumph and mock concerns about its sustainability.  They revel in their schadenfreude because of the real an imagined offenses of other men in other times.   But Tunisia should teach us that a hand can be overplayed; of such are revolutions made.

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