Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 3, 2013/ 23 Iyar, 5773

A resistant culture of corruption

By Wesley Pruden




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The 21st century is a hard sell to a culture that prefers the 8th. The Europeans, loosely defined, keep trying in Afghanistan. It's 12 years and counting since the Americans replaced the Russians, and a lot longer than that since the British decided they had had enough, and beat it back to London.

We've made a considerable investment in blood and money in Afghanistan. The changes that all the sacrifice bought are mostly cosmetic, and we're learning that cosmetic changes last about as long on an 8th-century culture as lipstick on a pig. Tribal warfare is the national sport and the gross national product, insofar as anyone can find one big enough to measure, consists mostly of refugees and asylum-seekers. Coffin-makers do a good business but almost nobody else does.

This is the land that hope and change forgot, and President Obama is determined to bring most American troops home, or at least to send them to another semi-hopeless place. The alternative to doing nothing may be even more dreadful, but the depth of American frustration in Afghanistan is measured in two U.S. audits that spell out why a world policeman's lot is not a happy one. Not in the Middle East, anyway.

The first internal audit, uncovered by the Washington Guardian concludes that the Afghan military, despite years of expensive American tutoring and training, is only "marginally capable of repelling attacks from the Islamist extremists who antagonize large parts of the country."

The Afghan National Army still has weak command and control capabilities, and only succeeds on the battlefield with American and allied assistance. "Assistance" usually means the Afghans step back and let the Americans and the allies do the heavy lifting - and a lot of the dying. The Afghans can sometimes steer the car in a wobbly more or less straight line, but only as long as daddy's there to accelerate, brake and supervise.

"In its present state of development and given the threat environment," the Defense Department inspector general concluded, "we found the [Afghan] command, control and coordination system to be marginally sufficient to respond effectively to insurgent attacks . . . and to conduct effectively other short-term offensive operations." Translated from government-speak, the inspector general concludes that this is the army that can barely shoot straight when it shoots at all.

It's not altogether the fault of the men in the ranks. One high-ranking U.S. officer who has worked directly with Afghan forces tells the Guardian that even after meeting basic levels of competence, the Afghan soldier's efforts are undermined by corruption in the government of President Hamid Karzai. "If the Afghan soldier doesn't get paid when he's supposed to, he will either leave or get recruited by the enemy." The pay from the enemy may not be better or even more forthcoming, but looting opportunities are more abundant. Men in the highest ranks of the government do it, so why not the dogface soldiers?

This hasn't been a happy spring in Afghanistan. In trying to impose the 21st century on the reluctant culture, the Americans are building first-world hospitals that probably won't be sustainable in the third world when Mr. Obama delivers on his promise to quit the battlefield. The Guardian reports that one of the two hospitals the Americans are building in eastern Afghanistan will be 12 times the size of the hospital it replaces, and annual maintenance costs will soar to $3.2 million. The second hospital now spends $98,000 annually on maintenance and will have to come up with $587,000 annually to maintain the replacement.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, says it has been assured by the Afghan government there will be "no problem." It's not rocket science to figure out who the Afghans expect to pick up the check. The skeptical inspector general says USAID could make better use of the money available for the five hospitals the agency funds. Three of the five have no anesthesiologist on staff, two have no obstetrician or gynecologist and one has no pediatrician. But the two new hospitals, built at a cost of $18.5 million, will by shiny and new.

Nation-building is for suckers, as we learn to considerable pain. It's probably not possible in a Judeo-Christian society to avoid trying to resolve the problems of others, but we should do it only when those problems, if left unresolved, make trouble for us. And we shouldn't expect to make good small-d democrats or small-r republicans out of those who prefer to live in the squalor of the 8th century. It's important to keep great expectations realistic.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

Wesley Pruden Archives

© 2007 Wesley Pruden

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles

Quantcast