Fragile State

Because we don’t have blog turbo that let’s you upload video ($60/yr?!) we will not be able to follow through on my morning dream to post heart-softening clips from a certain body of water near Dickenson’s County Store… and instead must continue posting about wretched things such as imperial sociological experiments in Afghanistan.

In today’s WPost there’s a solid piece on USAID projex in Afghanistan (by the author of the celebrated book that’s being remade into a movie that’s given a title stolen from Eat My Mind’s space page and no longer just about dorm rooms anymore, starring, of course, Will Hunting). The newspiece focuses on the agriculture sector in Afghanistan and several funky blunders (aka “war bloopers”) by the previous administration. Given the avowed goal of rebuilding the Afghan state, it is strange how much the Bush Dudes completely bypassed the government. Instead of working with the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture to “build capacity” (as the development heads say) they set up expensive worthless development projects through private contractors, who, leaning heavily on some flat-earth free enterprise textbook, determined Afghanistan had a comparative advantage in pomegranates & almonds & such and tried to convince farmers to take on these crops because markets in Dubai were totally trying to buy snacks. For example, etc. Bush Dudes, as Lewis Lapham once said, were utopian anarchists. In this case, Utopian–in that they carried some hyper-abstracted political theory about the harmonizing function markets in society–and Anarchic–in that, through their actions/priorities, they sought to render government agencies irrelevant. (Despite spending almost $8billion on agriculture initiatives, when the current minister of agriculture assumed the post he was shocked to find his office without phone, internet, or staff.) What is wildstyle is that this tack was somewhat novel and a departure from the prevailing imperialist state-building orthodoxy. I mean, if you want to be a 21st century neo-colonialist there are playbooks you can pull off the shelf. And that way, when you fail, no one in Washington will give you a hard time. But these guys…      [Snap, need to get the weekend started–will continue da rant on Monday]

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