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Guest Post: Hays on the French Election

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

[Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Image result for french election

I’d like to welcome a new, occasional, guest-poster at zenpundit.com,  “Jack Hays“.  Mr. Hays has considerable experience in a number of political and policy positions inside government and out and shares with the ZP readership our appreciation for history, strategy and other things further afield.

FRANCE AT THE CROSSROADS

by Jack Hays

The party system of the Fifth Republic is at last overturned and reconfigured almost exactly half a century after its creation, and the second round of the French presidential election now becomes the third big Western contest for the old and new dispensations: first Brexit, next HRC-Trump, and now Macron-Le Pen.
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Each was and is a fight between the postwar managerial state on the one hand, and populist nationalism on the other. The shock has been the latter’s victory in the first two, but the conventional wisdom is that the streak ends here. Surely this new campaign will end for the younger Le Pen as it did for the elder, with the mass of the French electorate banding together to give a supermajority to the establishment. That’s a rational bet any other year, but not this one. There are the macro trends, and then there are the particular details. Marine Le Pen brings together powerful strands of French political history and identity, from the ridiculous to the pathetic to the glorious, from Pierre Poujade to Philippe Pétain to Charles De Gaulle. Emmanuel Macron does as well, although his are the rocks of the known and the institutional, France as governed in our lifetimes, the rule of les énarques. France as a whole has preferred the latter for so long, but their age of prosperity and competence has turned into an age of fear, of murder in the cities and disquiet in the homes. Now we learn what they fear more, because that fear — not hope, not aspiration — will drive the outcome. What is more intolerable: the status quo of En Marche, or the specter of the Front National?
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We do not know. Neither does France. It is both an uncertainty we must endure, and a suspense we cannot afford.

Guest Post: Impressions of Easter 2017, Rural Russia

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

[ by Mark Osiecki — posted by Charles Cameron ]
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I found this semi-private post by my friend Mark Osiecki quite wonderfully written, insightful as to mood in rural Russia, and deeply moving.

In my mind, the arches formed where religion and science meet are among the loftiest in the “hundred gated cathedral of kind” that Hermann Hesse wrote of in his novel Magister Ludi, aka The Glass Bead Game, and this post, with its arch between engineering and eucharist, strikes me as a fine example of the possibilities. With Mark’s permission, I’m reposting it here.

**

Feodor and I.

Nearly identical in age, we arrived essentially simultaneously into this existence, but within parallel universes…his The Cold War Soviet, mine The Cold War United States. But we laboured professionally within a common belief system…his sect, nuclear physics and reactor-powered plants, mine mechanical engineering and heavy industrial process. Despite our governments’ endeavoring to differentiate their brands of benevolent service to us, we moved in remarkably similar worlds.

The Engineering, after all, is united in its own universal mysticism.

Therein reside incantations…rich in their use of sigmas, alphas, rhos, thetas… symbology universally recognized by all trained congregants. On our respective sides of this planet, we would re-contrive those classical formulae with ritualistic rigor, condense the results into icon-like drawings and present them to sage masters who would ask us “Will this work? Can persons walk under or past this without peril? Is this for the greater good?” We were trained to curtly answer “yes”, of course, confident in our interpretation of The Commandments as bestowed by a Euclid, a Newton, an Euler, a Moore, an Ohm perhaps. Sadly, though, we plied this belief system with the knowledge that it had all too often been deployed not in fact for the greater good but rather to release the great unseen forces hidden within those incantations into enormous, physically destructive effects, eventually bringing grievous harm and agonizing death to many.

But we, we rationalized, incantated for some greater utility. After all, the greater people somehow desired and benefited from the results of our labours. And thus, we and those consuming the products of our work were able to sense no complicity in the release of such destruction.

*

The Supreme Soviet, one day, stopped.

The Engineering continued despite that passage, but The Orthodoxy – a disallowed belief system – somehow immediately re-emerged adjacent to The Engineering despite the Soviet’s travails over many generations to erase all sentimentality for it. One day soon thereafter, it occurred to Feodor that his inclination towards incantation and application of Commandments could be deployed via The Orthodoxy, also towards the greater good. Thus, he abruptly refocused his faith towards a new set of Unseeable Phenomena, got educated in it, and got to work.

So now, this Easter’s eve in a tiny rural chapel bounded only by hovels and two cemeteries, my friend Feodor is working. It’s 3:30am on what began as a blustery Saturday night, and we are gathered in the middle of nowhere. Two hundred or so consumers of his work have assembled before him in a space where a certificate next to the front door declares its legal capacity of 60. Half of the congregants – people of my generation or older – had come to this belief system after the collapse of the Supreme Soviet un-disallowed it. The rest, mostly younger, were born into it. Now, we here are compressed together, so tightly that we are slightly deforming each other. Every time the person in back of me waves her right arm in signing The Cross – once every thirty seconds or so over several hours – she caresses that image onto my back. My pelvis is in warm, intimate contact with the back of the person in front of me. Were the man next to me attempt to reach in his pocket, I would feel every nuance of that movement, as though his wriggling fingers were en route to one of mine.

Group confessions were jointly said earlier this evening, but this compacted mass of believers is not static. Folks come and go. Most will stay for the entire five-hour fete, with an overflow crowd cresting just about now. A cantor announces that if anyone missed the earlier confession, they may step forward and Feodor will somehow work them in during the balance of the service. If you have ever studied fluid dynamics and observed images or videos of how temperature difference diffuses through a dense medium, you would recognize a similar visual phenomenon here. The contrite shimmy their way forward but you don’t actually see them. Rather, you see the reactions of those already-confessed souls parting to make way for them…a glance over a shoulder, a twist of a torso, a fluttering open of normally closed eyes.

The service, despite its playing out in a language I struggle to grasp, is at least structurally familiar to me. Readings from testaments are performed, a consecration is rendered, praises are sung. A cleansing remorse is conveyed and then sensed as accepted. I take refuge in that familiarity. As the night passes to morning, a subtle crescendo of hopefulness builds within… this certain, family-given sense of being, communicated via a belief couched in the unbelievable.

**

Thanks you, Mark.

Thucydides Roundtable: Daniel Bassill’s comment

Friday, February 10th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a comment from a valued friend ]
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My friend Daniel Bassill of Tutor-Mentor Institute has been following the Thucydides Roundtable here on Zenpundit, and sent me a comment which would probably be too long for the comment section, so I’m posting it “whole” here.

As he explains in his post, Daniel is a dedicated blogger and networker from Chicago who maps Tutor-Mentor Connections (see image above, or view full size) in an effort to provide a library of templates for similar projects in other cities.

I’m honored to offer you his guest post here.

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Daniel Bassill writes:

I’d like to start out this post by saying “Thank you” to Zenpundit and Charles Cameron for luring me into your small circle of learners who have read Thucydides’ guide to The Peloponnesian War over the past 10 weeks. I started a few weeks after you all had introduced yourselves and had posted comments on the introduction and book, but finished at about the same time as the rest of you. Throughout my reading, your articles and comments greatly enhanced my understanding of what I was reading. Whoever said this is a “difficult book to read” was absolutely correct.

I’ve a long interest and majored in history in college. This book reminded me of a history of the American Civil War that I read while in 8th grade (I’m 70 now), which was about two inches thick, with small type densely packed on each page, and recounted every battle and troop movement in the entire war. I don’t know how I made it all the way through.

As I read Thucydides I used my yellow marker to highlight passages I wanted to come back to later. During the past year a few on-line friends have introduced me to annotation tools such as Hypothes.is which allows readers to highlight on-line material and comment in the margins. Others can do the same and interact with each other. That might have been an interesting way to read Thucydides with you. However, since we didn’t I put some of my highlighted text on a Hackpad over the past couple of weeks, so I could use them to help me write this post.

As I read the book, and your comments, I kept thinking of how little mankind has changed over 2400 years and how the politics and war that Thucydides was writing about relates to the current political situation in the US and the world. I was struck by how much power and influence Pericles had, as well as how much Alcibiades seemed to have. There are a few people surrounding our new president who seem to have similar power. That scares me.

Right from the introduction onward, when Thucydides wrote, “So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand.” pg 15, I began to relate what he wrote 2400 years ago to how many of us make decisions today.

**

Three themes stood out in this book, that seem to still be relevant today

a) War brutalizes people, and civilians suffer the most. Throughout the book was countless reporting of massacres and pillage of captive people and surrendered cities. It seems that this hasn’t really been much of a concern for leaders until the late 1600s and Age of Enlightenment, when Rousseau and others began sharing their ideas.

b) Might makes right, and the powerful have a right to rule the weak ….this might be Teddy Roosevelt saying “Speak softly but carry a big stick” or Donald Trump saying “America First”.

c) The historical glorification of Athenian Democracy is based on a myth, in my opinion, since their ‘democracy’ only applied to the people in Athens, and not to the people in the Athenian Empire.

I want to focus on the middle of these three observations. Below are some quotes from Book One,
which I highlighted:

“For it has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger.” pg 43
“Where force can be used, law is not needed.” pg 44
“The weaker must give way to the stronger” pg 44
“Men’s indignation, it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being compelled by a superior.” pg 44

These arguments were further developed in Book 5, where the Milian Argument was reported, and which was discussed in depth on the Zenpundit site. I highlighted these two comments.

Book 5, 16th year – The Melian Argument — (see discussion of this on Zenpundit site)

“Athenians: For ourselves, we will not trouble you with specious pretenses……. since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”” pg 352
“Athenians: Of the Gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us;” pg 354

**

I live in Chicago and grew up in the years following WW2. I’ve worked for social justice almost all my adult life, leading efforts to help inner city youth connect with adults from beyond poverty who would serve as tutors, mentors, network builders, and in other roles that helped lead youth to adult lives free of poverty.

Thus, I’ve been over exposed to “justice” and “fairness” arguments, where abused populations have
sought better treatment, apology, and even reparations from their oppressors.

Yet, little real change in condition of the poor has resulted from these challenges to oppression, and now there may be a backlash in the US as a result of the Trump election.

**

As I was preparing to write this, two other resources came to me from my web network.

I was asked to view this “potential war with China” video showing the US Empire as of 2017.

This video shows that regardless of who the US President has been, business interests, particularly the industrial-military-financial sector, for more than 150 years, maybe since the US was founded, have been driving actions that bully weaker countries and create pain and suffering for millions of people, mostly the poor. We’ve created plenty of reasons for people to hate us, and fear us. While there is growing visibility being given to protest movements, victories are small and hard to sustain.

China is not a weakling that can be pushed around. This is where DT offers much to be afraid of. Maybe China is our “Sparta” and we’re it’s “Athens”. Nothing good came from that.

The second resource is an article that traces current world events and power structure back over 2500
years to the time of Thucydides and Athenian democracy. In this section of thearticle is a comparison of two long-term
trends (demonstrated in two articles), with one titled “Plato to NATO” and another “based on the story of the epidemiology of the wetiko disease’. ”

This paragraph offers a brief summary of the two articles:

‘Plato to NATO’ separates human beings from nature and presumes we have not just the right but the duty to bend the natural world to our will. Wetiko says we are nature, and our cognitive and technological prowess means not that we have a right to dominate nature and extract all its value for our own aggrandizement, but that we have a responsibility to care for it and leave it in a better state than we found it.

This first section could have been a statement delivered by an Athenian in Thucydides’ book. The second relates to Pericles’ description of Athenian strengths, given in Book One, which concludes with “they were born into the world to take no rest themselves, and to give none to others.” pg 40

These articles prompted me to dig deeper.

**

Further research for writing this comment includes this article about Niccolo Machiavelli, who lived in France from 1469-1527. This statement shows how 15th century Europe had not changed much from BC400 Greece “Machiavelli’s era was that of the Medici family, of naked conquest by military force”

There’s an unsaid comparison to Thucydides in this statement about Machiavelli: “It has been suggested that Machiavelli wrote out of resentment, but the emotional forces that drove him were stronger than mere resentment.”

Reading further in sections summarizing Machiavelli’s book, “The Prince”, I see many ideas that could
have come directly from reading Thucydides.

I next looked to see if I could find a connection between Thucydides and Machiavelli, which led me to this article. The Influence of Thucydides in the Modern World – The Father of Political Realism Plays a Key Role in Current Balance of Power Theories, By Alexander Kemos http://www.hri.org/por/thucydides.html

This is the first paragraph of the article:

Thucydides, the Ancient Greek historian of the fifth century B.C., is not only the father of scientific history, but also of political “realism,” the school of thought which posits that interstate relations are based on might rather than right. Through his study of the Peloponnesian War, a destructive war which began in 431 B.C. among Greek city-states, Thucydides observed that the strategic interaction of states followed a discernible and recurrent pattern. According to him, within a given system of states, a certain hierarchy among the states determined the pattern of their relations. Therefore, he claimed that while a change in the hierarchy of weaker states did not ultimatley affect a given system, a disturbance in the order of stronger states would decisively upset the stability of the system. As Thucydides said, the Peloponnesian War was the result of a systematic change, brought about by the increasing power of the Athenian city-state, which tried to exceed the power of the city-state of Sparta. “What made the war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused Sparta,” Thucydides wrote in order to illustrate the resulting systematic change; that is, “a change in the hierarchy or control of the international political system.

How this affects us in 2017 is shown in this paragraph:

The impact of Thucydides’ work upon scholars of the Cold War period consists evidence for the relevance of his realist theory in today’s world. In fact, while his Peloponnesian War is chronologically distant from the present, Thucydides’ influence upon realist scholars in the post-1945 period, and in turn upon American diplomacy, is direct. Specifically, the foundations of American diplomacy during the Cold War with regard to the struggle between the two superpowers and the ethical consequences or problems posed for smaller states caught in the vortex of bipolar competition are derived from his work.

In the conclusion of this article about Machiavelli, the author wrote, “In twenty-first century liberal democracy, perhaps there is a little of the prince in everyone: it is only to be hoped that there is more than a little of the people in today’s princely political elite.”

**

In his concluding article on the Zenpundit site, A.E. Clark wrote “What we can learn from Thucydides may therefore be a purely theoretical question, if in fact no one is going to read Thucydides.”

He went on to say “Few have read this book, and few in our time will ever do so.”

I’d argue that few have read any of the articles I put on my hackpad as a result of reading Thucydides. I was motivated to read the book by reading Zenpundit articles for the past year or so, which was motivated by meeting and building a relationship with Charles Cameron, starting in about 2005. And that was motivated by my own efforts to connect more people to the work I was doing in Chicago to help build a better system of supports for inner city kids, by building better support for the tutor/mentor organizations they needed in their lives.

You can see a cycle of cause and affect.

I’m an archivist, librarian, teacher and advertiser. I put these articles on a Hackpad as a way to archive them for myself and for others. I will continue to add to this and hope others join in. I’ve been pointing to these on my Twitter and Facebook feeds for the past two weeks.

**

I’ve been hosting the http://www.tutormentorconnection.org web site and http://www.tutormentorexchange.net web site since 1998 and have been writing http://tutormentor.blogspot.com articles since 2005.

It’s probable that very few out of a planet of many billions of people have ever read any of what I’ve written.

But some have, such as Charles Cameron, and he’s made a continuous effort to encourage others to take
a look. Thus, I’m encouraged, and keep on doing this work.

Maybe that’s my take-away from this experience.

If we make the effort, maybe we can expand the band of brothers that A.E. Clark wrote about or that the writers of the Longreads site are hoping for.

And maybe that will result in helping more of us navigate the times we live in.

Anne Smedinghoff Didn’t Have to Die Part 2

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

[ Last week, Zen hosted Pete Turner’s guest post, PRT and State Department Ignorance Fails Us All. Here is part 2 of that article — posted by Charles Cameron for Zen ]
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pete turner header

**

Last week I wrote about the tragedy of Anne Smedinghoff, who died on a patrol in Qalat Afghanistan.  This is part 2 of the story–

My intention here is to illustrate HOW? rather than “what” we (Dr. Rich Ledet and I) did regarding the proper means to improve education in rural Afghanistan.  I submit that our method is more reliable, predictable, measurable and can be replicated; yay scientific method.  

Dr. Ledet and I leveraged an unusually strong partnership with a key Afghan political-religious leader.  More than simply believing that we had a great relationship, we’d taken steps to build and validate the strength of our partnership, leveraging tools I had personally developed over years of immersion in conflict environments.  

To begin with, we avoided the common US “crutch” of dominance, never assuming that we were “in charge.”  Not only did we share many meals and tea with him, but we socialized with him and his family apart from any other American military elements. We also invited this leader to our dining facility to eat with us on numerous occasions.  We shared our relevant reports (normally made for US elements only, these reports dealt with our evaluation of his region) with him (unclassified or FOUO) so that he could better understand our role and how the US was attempting to support him–This post is long enough already. I’ll have to come back to this particular topic later.

As a side note, I thought I had a great relationship with this leader after working with him almost daily for months.  One day, he sat back, put his hand above his head and said, “I get what you are doing now.  I understand that you are truly helping me with the Americans.”  This breakthrough was surprising, as I thought we already had a good partnership.  But I had misjudged what was previously accomplished, and the lesson I learned was that not only is trust VERY hard to earn, but also that there are different forms of trust to be accounted for when attempting to partner with leaders in conflict environments.  Only after this point did I realize that I had earned an additional level of trust, and that he allowed me more latitude and access than he afforded any other American.  In fact, I could come to him for advice, as he knew that I was genuinely working to support the Afghans in a way that was within the bounds of their customs.

We brought our research problem regarding education to our partner, and asked him how to best work toward a solution.  He immediately identified the other elders with whom we needed to discuss and work, while providing us with the new Provincial Minister of Education’s (MoE) personal phone number (which we did not previously have on record) and advised us to mention his name when we talked.  He noted that he was also attempting to work with the MoE on education in his district, and although they hadn’t always agreed, he felt the MoE was an honest man.

This process of partnering, and acquiring information about other leaders and the MoE, demonstrated a measure of trust indicating that our partner indeed valued us and our efforts.  Further his validation through providing us with an introduction to other key decision-makers in the province which gave us unique access to a set of leaders that didn’t typically interact with US elements.  We had truly entered through a more culturally appropriate door, as our partner trusted that we would not expose him in a negative light to the other leaders.  

Once we were able to make contact with the recommended leaders, we were careful to explain the agenda, set up appointments, and accommodate their schedules as best as possible.  We never showed up unannounced, or uninvited.  With the safety of all involved in mind, we took time to determine their preferred place of meeting, which was critical considering that we lived on an American forward operating base, and could move in heavily protected convoys.  We were remarkably “safer” than those leaders, as they lived in constant threat.  We displayed a respect for their safety when we considered their venue preference.  While these logistical steps seem obvious, we found this level of respect nonexistent in DoS, PRT and US forces attempting to work with local leaders, again relying on domination to achieve goals; US forces prefer to show up unannounced, unscheduled and take over the Afghan leader’s schedule as we set fit.  

When we met, the recommended leaders were also accompanied by multiple religious elders.  We didn’t ask them to do this, by the way, but it was something that was required in their culture.  This was also an indicator to us that we approached the problem from the most culturally appropriate angle known to us (and recommended by our Afghan partner who originally set us up for success).  Afghan leaders, when not influenced by Americans, will have a religious leader (mullah) present as they make decisions.  

Over the course of several meetings, and after deliberation between the MoE and other family and religious leaders, we were able to ascertain what was expected in terms of US assistance.  Keep in mind that what we were also doing was helping to link family, religious, and political leaders with a valid MoE backed plan to improve education throughout all of Zabul province; a critical element of creating stability wins.  

These leaders never asked for money. They never asked us to build another school.  They recognized that we could help, and they also wanted us to help them determine if these programs were working.  They knew we had the capacity, which they knew they did not, to help them measure the success of the program.  

What is most telling is that these leaders noted a lack of security, which is a common theme throughout my time in conflicted areas.  Security concerns are superior, and every other effort is subordinate.  This is where you need to pay attention DoS–The MoE asked that he never be seen engaging with the US at his office, as US patrols could only expose him to harm, he and other leaders wanted to reduce the amount of contact between US forces and their children for the same reason.  Moreover, leaders in the district wanted us in the background, as they wanted to see the Afghan government and the MoE doing their job.  They wanted the people living in Zabul Province to see the same–This is setting the stage for believable, culturally based stability win…and there is no photo op.

Our work established the beginnings of a clear plan that meets the requirements for creating stability. It satisfies a test we developed that indicates potential success when conducting non-lethal missions or operations…Is the operation Afghan inspired, Afghan led, Afghan provisioned, and sanctioned by a Mullah?  

Is it possible that if DoS had bothered to teach Anne this test or heed our report, that she would still be alive?

Guest Post: PRT and State Department Ignorance Fails Us All

Monday, March 21st, 2016

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“]

AnnSmed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Smedinghoff

ZP is pleased to bring you a guest post by Pete Turner, co-host of The Break it Down Show and is an advocate of better, smarter, transition operations. Turner has extensive overseas experience in hazardous conditions in a variety of positions including operations: Joint Endeavor (Bosnia), Iraqi Freedom (2004-6, 2008-10), New Dawn (Iraq 2010-11) and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan 2011-12).

PRT and State  Department Ignorance Fails Us All

by Pete Turner

Anne Smedinghoff and 5 others died when a Taliban car bomb, a.k.a. VBIED, attacked her patrol almost 3 years ago on April 6, 2013 in Qalat city Afghanistan, Zabul province.  The mission’s purpose was to get a photo opportunity while the US patrol handed out books to Afghan kids.  Their deaths were completely preventable.

Ignorance, arrogance and incompetence by the local Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), Anne and her Department of State (DoS) peers surely contributed to her death, and the death of multiple soldiers.  I know that statement is pretty inflammatory…and it’s part of the reason why I waited 3 years to tell the tale.  Please read the attached article for the required context.  Also, read Peter Van Buren’s (former DoS boss) HuffPo blog in which he also criticizes DoS competence in this tragedy.

I worked in the same area as Anne, but I’d left about a year prior to her arrival.  It’s unfortunate that my research partner and I didn’t get a chance to meet her.  If we had, she would have been armed with some information that could have saved her life.  It is also unfortunate that the knowledge we gained while working in Qalat left apparently left with us.

Before going any further, my partner, Dr. Ledet and I conducted research into improving education in the province.  Specifically, we were tasked with learning how the US should distribute learning materials to Afghans, and we did so by working with tribal, religious, and political leaders in the area.  Our report was distributed to the PRT, US military and the DoS working in the areas, and briefed to higher authorities. The senior Afghan Ministry of Education (MoE) representative for the province, and multiple leaders we consulted, provided us with the solution regarding how the US could help improve education.

Our Afghan partners clearly and forcefully stated, US elements were not, under any circumstances, to provide books directly to Afghan children.

Yet, Anne and the others died on a book delivery operation. WTF?

It’s critical to understand how bad this is, as not only did the DoS and PRT undermine the MoE directive, which was given with the consent of religious leaders and family elders; effectively the patrol’s objective undermined their authority as well, and created violence and more instability.

How does this happen?  Simply, our foreign policy theory doesn’t match our tactics.  We hire highly intelligent people to do complex work, but their personal intelligence and accomplishments often mean little in this environment.  Often, the people I encounter with fantastic resumes are not trained to listen and learn.  Our failings aren’t about individual brain power and desire.  Where we fail is in our overriding compulsion to help, coupled with our inability to make sure that “ground truth” knowledge is accurately passed on to our replacements when we redeploy.

When we as a nation, bring “help” it often harms locals but sounds great in our briefings or in a eulogy...These are John Kerry’s words the day following Anne’s death, “…Yesterday in Afghanistan, we had a different stealing of a young life. And I think there are no words for anybody to describe the extraordinary harsh contradiction of a young 25-year-old woman with all of the future ahead of her, believing in the possibilities of diplomacy, of changing people’s lives, of making a difference, having an impact, who was taking knowledge in books to deliver them to a school. “  

I have words to describe this, Mr. Kerry….and they are harsh.  THAT PATROL SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAPPENED!  Anne was not properly prepared, and it’s a failure of the existing DoS and PRT staff that should have known better.  It’s the failure of whoever disregarded that day’s threat assessment to send out a patrol on a photo safari.  Those photos only validate our ignorance, and do nothing to repair the damage of that day.

Mr. Kerry and Anne simply wanted to help the Afghans become educated, but in reality that patrol was indicative of the continued separation between the Afghans and US partners. That patrol also created another opportunity for the Taliban to show locals where their future interests lie.  Because we don’t learn, and continue to act as though our culture is superior to the Afghans, we fail to make the kind of progress necessary to create stability.

It’s one thing for me to criticize John Kerry and Anne…hang in there, when I post part 2, I’ll illustrate how Dr. Ledet and I were able to use culture to our advantage, and gain uncommon access to the Afghans while we learned the appropriate way to support the MoE.


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