Friday, December 19, 2008
Time for whack-a-mole, again. I keep hitting and hoping that someday time will be up. Preparing for three and a half hour flight where I was forced to select a middle seat from the plane diagram, I had the forethought to stock up on light reading. I was happily ensconced with my pile of magazines when I found this great article, The New Colonialists, in the Utne Reader, a reprint from a summer edition of Foreign Policy. Its a good, readable, usable discussion of the counter-productive growth of NGO activity in the world's "failed states".
The article makes a clear case for the ways that the functions and competencies of the state are weakened and undermined by the growing interference of western donor-agencies. Digest this info recorded on Page 62: "Today 80 percent of all Afghan services, such as health care and education, are delivered by international and local NGO's." Keep reading from there and you will have an entirely different perspective of the difficulties faced by the Afghan government and the opposition of their people to our interference than standard press coverage reports.
The authors don't discuss the role of the Human Terrain System soldiers in paving the way for this activity.
Anthropology teaches us to turn the lens on ourselves and, yet, the West is more concerned with transparency in weak to non-existent governments than in our own "charitable" intentions and actions. This is a hard one to present to a class. I have been screaming for years about the offense implied in our quest at "Saving" Africa. This article helps buttress our own legitimacy in making that argument.
Please note: no moles were harmed in the production of this post. And, a word of advice, think twice about repeating the words "yes, yes, yes", when occupying the middle seat in the coach section--such things might be permitted in Business Class but I wouldn't know because, Mr. Veblen, I know my place.