Thursday, March 26, 2009
South Asia suffered for generations from the legacy of Cambridge University Fabian Socialism. Now that India has finally shaken off that legacy the cultural imperialists are poised to try again under American cover in nearby Afghanistan. Call if the Revenge of the Raj. There clearly is a place for Civil Affairs projects. Normally these functions are performed by uniformed soldiers called to active duty from specially trained reserve units that recruit civilians with the needed skills. That makes sense while combat operations are still in progress. Later when the military moves to supporting and overseeing tasks more commonly associated with law enforcement it becomes appropriate to shed the army uniforms. Iraq is now probably at that stage. The risks in Afghanistan are two fold. First it might be premature to civilianize the effort while there are still organized enemy combat units in the field. Second is that these efforts should be focused on providing the training, legal framework, market access, and infrastructure for a normal society to develop. My fear is that this will become a pork barrel for an army of Chicago Community Organizers who will saddle Afghanistan with a model of dependancy and corruption, although the native variety may be able to teach the newcomers on that score, and inefficiency that will collapse as soon as outsiders withdraw and the waiting Taliban move back in.