The latest xkcd.
“Southern half” is catholic for “the correct regional designation.”
Seeing that Afghanistan is sitting on a veritable gold mine of mineral wealth, Kennedy’s “defense and expansion of freedom” can be updated to include Eurasia. But wealth does not often go to the winners of wars, and I expect the proximity of China to be a deciding factor in who exploits this mineral wealth. It also raises the geological question that if Afghanistan, then might not other deposits be found throughout Eurasia? Xinjiag is known for oil/gas and minerals, such as lithium. I guess it depends on the geological formation of the region. But once again, freedom and what we all need in the developed world are intertwined.
“But wealth does not often go to the winners of wars, and I expect the proximity of China to be a deciding factor in who exploits this mineral wealth.”
Others are likely to disagree, but this really is a game changer for the region. To this point the major factor, and the main reason we should just leave, is the massive expense of being in the region. There’s going to be massive capital investment, which will require greater security. Now that people can benefit locally, they are likely to be less supportive of foreign fighters interfering, and local Taliban. We’re gonna see just how quickly ideology crumbles under the weight of economic reality.
Because of the politically sensitive nature of the region, Afghanistan is mostly likely going to end up like Iraq, Japan, Germany, and others that are enjoying US military security with sovereign rights over state resources. Everyone thought the US would get the benefit of oil rights, but Iraq is doing things in its own national interest now. We really need a new paradigm for what’s going on, because terms like Imperialism don’t fit anymore. The last 9 years have been all the costs of Imperial expansion, with none of the benefits.
China will definitely be a major player. Simply put, now that the cost to US taxpayers isn’t going to be an issue in state building, many of the issues plaguing the endeavor there have gone away. This is in no way simple, and there’s no way to predict the future, but I’m sure Obama is happy about this, because it gives him an out without the fear of region destabilization.
Simply put, now that the cost to US taxpayers isn’t going to be an issue in state building, many of the issues plaguing the endeavor there have gone away. This is in no way simple, and there’s no way to predict the future, but I’m sure Obama is happy about this, because it gives him an out without the fear of region destabilization.
That’s the hoped for scenario. Bu the reality will probably imply further and more intensive American involvement in stabilising Afghanistan. Now that expectations have changed for the country, history has not proved that such countries fare well. Such political foreshadowings makes American involvement even more crucial, and for President Obama this puts him in a more tenous position. He is now on a timeline to stabilize an essentially unstable situation, while at the same time facing the loss of coalition forces (NATO) forces form the region. I do not see the situation in Afghanistan as similar to Germany or Japan after the war, but more resembling oil and mineral rich states in Africa. Greater instability seems to be the future, and America has bought into this instability. I do agree, America will soon drop the ideological tone, but still selling an even more expensive committment to the American people and Congress will require a change of rhetoric. In the end it will still be “democracy,” “free-trade,” “law and order,” just as these same words echoed during the British Imperial era in the nineteenth century.
“I do not see the situation in Afghanistan as similar to Germany or Japan after the war, but more resembling oil and mineral rich states in Africa. ”
That is a definite possibility. If I had money to gamble, I wouldn’t bet on the outcome either way.
I’ve heard the Congo and Nigeria references, but there are also the Chile references. There are a hell of a lot of differences between the mess that Europeans left in Africa, and what Americans are likely to leave in Afghanistan though. There are very different cultures and material realities on all sides.
I referenced Japan, because what brought Japan back after almost total destruction was US capital investment in Japan as a staging ground for the Korean war. They built factories for army Jeeps using the latest technology and materials, etc… Afghanistan has neither the centralized government or national identity that Japan had though, so it’s not an apples to apples comparison.
However, it is not likely to end up like the Congo or Nigeria either, because pragmatism often trumps ethnic/tribal identity in Afghanistan. I just don’t see the average Afghan tolerating those who put ideological causes above getting along and making money. The fear now is that the massive corruption will funnel all money to a small elite, but then you have to remember that Americans are there and we’ve got the guns. In Africa it was a matter of common strategy to enrich a minority of people to subdue an area, and when they left they did nothing to change the situation. While the US deals with despotic regimes, it’s a pragmatic policy. We’ve seen first hand that if we don’t want to deal with those regimes then we have to go in and change regimes, and we saw how easy that was in Iraq. Examples that could be brought in to challenge this fact are either too divergent for direct comparison, or anachronistic and from a different time. Afghanistan is getting built from the ground up, there’s no upside to designing a totalitarian regime there. We are in essentially a PR war, and that would be really bad PR.
Even Iraq isn’t ending up like those states, and it suffers from poorly drawn state borders and ethnic strife from a colonial past. Whatever is happening in either Afghanistan or Iraq, the past and tired old paradigms just aren’t going to fit. This isn’t the 19th century, and we can’t use the same rubric of comparison. If this was the 19th century, we know what would happen, we’d get the minerals. The fact that know one really knows is a testament to the difference.
We’ve seen first hand that if we don’t want to deal with those regimes then we have to go in and change regimes, and we saw how easy that was in Iraq. Examples that could be brought in to challenge this fact are either too divergent for direct comparison, or anachronistic and from a different time.
You referring to the Suez crisis? Can you connect the dots for me, because I don’t see the comparison of invasion and state building.
Also, Egypt’s largest economic sector is tourism, I believe.
I’m not going to stick my ass out on this, because that was a pretty bold statement I made, and someone smarter than me is probably gonna make me regret saying it. But hey, go big or go home right?
Rick- “The fear now is that the massive corruption will funnel all money to a small elite, but then you have to remember that Americans are there and we’ve got the guns.”
“These suspicions are surely warranted: Numerous instances of fraud and corruption in Afghanistan involving contractors, US military officials, and others have been extensively documented. Among those accused of corruption is the former Afghanistan country director of the UN’s Office of Project Services, Gary Helseth, who allegedly used funds intended to rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure to bankroll his own lavish lifestyle. And according to the office of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, only a quarter of the corruption cases it’s investigating involve Afghans—the rest are cases targeting at least one Western suspect.”
TIRIN KOT, Afghanistan — The most powerful man in this arid stretch of southern Afghanistan is not the provincial governor, nor the police chief, nor even the commander of the Afghan Army.
It is Matiullah Khan, the head of a private army that earns millions of dollars guarding NATO supply convoys and fights Taliban insurgents alongside American Special Forces.
In little more than two years, Mr. Matiullah, an illiterate former highway patrol commander, has grown stronger than the government of Oruzgan Province, not only supplanting its role in providing security but usurping its other functions, his rivals say, like appointing public employees and doling out government largess. His fighters run missions with American Special Forces officers, and when Afghan officials have confronted him, he has either rebuffed them or had them removed.
June 2 2008!!China has won a $3.5 billion contract to develop Afghanistan’s Aynak copper field, the largest foreign direct investment project in the history of Afghanistan.
The size of the bid — almost double the expected amount — surprised other potential foreign investors.
Seth, I’m aware of all of these things. I’ve got many friends that have spent years of their lives there, on the ground, and dealing with various sides directly. I’ve heard arguments that we should have Karzai removed and start again, but that’s largely been ignored, because it would be really bad PR. I don’t think you are taking seriously the fluid nature of what’s going on, or how very aware military personnel are attuned to the situation. A recent story in Military.com wrote:
-Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top allied military commander in Afghanistan, sat gazing at maps of Marjah as a Marine battalion commander asked him for more time to oust Taliban fighters from a longtime stronghold in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
“You’ve got to be patient,” Lt. Col. Brian Christmas told McChrystal. “We’ve only been here 90 days.”
“How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?” McChrystal replied.
A charged silence settled in the stuffy, crowded chapel tent at the Marine base in the Marjah district.
“I can’t tell you, sir,” the tall, towheaded, Fort Bragg, N.C., native finally answered.
“I’m telling you,” McChrystal said. “We don’t have as many days as we’d like.”
We’ve largely been on the fence in the area, due to the massive costs of developing the state. That’s why I said this was a game changer.
“It is Matiullah Khan, the head of a private army that earns millions of dollars guarding NATO supply convoys and fights Taliban insurgents alongside American Special Forces.”
I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. That kind of supports what I wrote. There’s a saying in Afghanistan that people will support the strongest tribe, and right now they feel we are the strongest tribe. However, we’ve haven’t been the only one’s on the fence. Most Afghan people have never really bought into the US message there. There is a history of coming and going, and last time we went they were overrun by religious, totalitarian, fanatics. If I don’t believe the message that they can count on us to stick around and protect them, then I know they aren’t. Now that there’s a lot of money to be made, and international investment, etc… a lot of people are going to jump of the fence. The dynamic will change, because the infrastructure will change.
You mentioned the Chinese, who have agreed to develop a rail infrastructure in the north, but all lines will go to China. Do you think other states aren’t going to compete and start infrastructure projects? China basically bribed their way into the contract, but what are you gonna do? The Chinese have proven they prefer to utilize a neo-colonial model. You’d never hear a Chinese general worrying about what the international community thinks.
I stated I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I just don’t see the cultural, regional, or material structures that can be easily compared to other situations, or to the same tired dependence theory ideology. Rather than looking with a priori biases then, what I’m saying is that a more empiric, pragmatic, and evidence based methodology be utilized to understand what’s going on. One thing’s for sure, we aren’t going to get a lot of insight from the media.
Also, I heard an interview on NPR today with this man:
H.W. Brands, about his new book:
“American Dreams: The United States Since 1945” (The Penguin Press, 2010).
The interview can be heard here: http://www.kera.org/audio/think.php
It’s really helped fill in some gaps for me to get a better understanding of where we’ve been and where we’re going in regards to even this new situation.
“I’ve heard arguments that we should have Karzai removed and start again.”
We chose Karzai as our bitch. The King was more popular and more accepted by all sides but the US said no.
And the US invented Matiullah Khan. The point was clear.
“The Chinese have proven they prefer to utilize a neo-colonial model.”
By trade as opposed to imposing an unpopular ruler? If Afghanistan is Tibet we’re the People’s Liberation Army.
The US is not there to serve the interests of the Afghan people. You love to talk, but you refuse to learn. Did you get your associates degree by collecting cereal box tops?
“Debt-ridden Greece gets vote of confidence from China. Chinese sign multibillion euro contracts.”
Rock Paper Scissors. Paper money beats a rock. It’s capitalism baby.
It sounds like you got switched over to crazy, frothy, talking points mode. There’s absolutely no context to anything you’ve said. “It’s all about capitalism baby,” is meaningless. War is the exact kind of situation in which people will take advantage of things to profit themselves. This happened well before capitalism was even a thought, and will happen if we ever replace it with something else.
The sole reason that the US became a superpower, was due to the position we were in after WWII and our ability to corner the world market in everything. That had as much to do with basic geography as it did with capitalism.
And, during WWII Stalinist Russia was an ally of the US. Does that make Roosevelt a communist? The Soviets to that time were clearly as brutal as the Nazis, and went on to beat them out as the most murderous regime in history, but at the time they were necessary to defeat what seemed to be a greater threat. Do you think we should have instead acted as Utopian fools? Karzai isn’t the power in the south, because there is not government to speak of in the south of Afghanistan. That is why we are there now.
To fain shock and naive anger at the fact that people take advantage of war for profit on the ground, and blaming the US forces for being complicit in it, is like saying the HTS is incompetent, because one of it’s members was shot. That’s an impossible standard developed by people that have never lived in the world outside very narrow experiences. By such a rubric every combat death of a US soldier is due to incompetence and poor training. I wish I lived in a world where bad things didn’t happen, but I try to move forward despite that fact.
And pray tell, what capitalism are you talking about? Capitalism had nothing to do with why we went to Afghanistan. Is it the capitalism of Western Europe, or the capitalism of communist China? You’re gonna have to get away from the official angry, leftist university student handbook and think about actual material realities in specific places.
Yes, the Afghan gov’t is very corrupt, but there are degrees of corruption. Our gov’t is corrupt. I’ve been in places like rural Malaysia, where they don’t pay the police enough money and they are told to get the rest of the pay from their jobs. They will set up roadblocks and take a toll from drivers. Yet, they have a stable government that would be a massive improvement for Afghans. The goal isn’t to get Afghanistan to the standards of say Germany, it’s to just get it working well enough to not become a lawless place. This mineral find gives them greater hope of getting there.
“By trade as opposed to imposing an unpopular ruler? If Afghanistan is Tibet we’re the People’s Liberation Army.”
That’s so far beyond reality I’m not sure what to say. We didn’t put in Karzai, because he was the perfect guy for us and was replacing some beloved hero of the people. There was no gov’t. There was only the Taliban. The country was rules by religious fanatics. They were fucking off f#$king people’s heads for playing music! They blew up a school is a girl went!
Again, was Roosevelt a communist? It’s not capitalism, it’s war baby.
“Did you get your associates degree by collecting cereal box tops?”
Can you do that? Man I screwed up. When I couldn’t pay for school, I enlisted and had to travel the world to places you somehow seem to know more about than me.
“They were fucking off f#$king people’s heads for playing music!”
Should read, “cutting off…”
I thought this was a blog about anthropology. If I want political rants, there are many other places to find them.
Language without politics is like gasoline engines without smog.
But that means questions about politics and responsibility not answers one way or another.
Capitalism in the context of my comment meant that China is trading and investing its way to strategic victory while the US is borrowing (from China) and fighting its way to strategic defeat.
The US backed the Taliban. The CIA gave millions to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, known for throwing acid on women’s exposed faces. Cold reason not idealism would argue for the US just to stay out of Soviet Afghan war. We helped to destroy a damaged country.
The US backed the Khmer Rouge after their defeat. That defense as above was worse than a crime it was a mistake. In the end NIke won the war, or haven’t you seen the factories?
On the US and Karzai. I’ll just use Wikipedia because it’s simpler. But a little research will confirm it. It’s not a secret.
In April 2002, while the country was under NATO occupation, Zahir Shah returned to Afghanistan to open the Loya Jirga, which met in June 2002. After the fall of the Taliban, there were open calls for a return to the monarchy. Zahir Shah himself let it be known that he would accept whatever responsibility was placed on him by the Loya Jirga. However he was obliged to publicly step aside at the behest of the United States as many of delegates to the Loya Jirga were prepared to vote for Zahir Shah and block the US-backed Hamid Karzai.
First know what you’re defending, then try to articulate a coherent strategy for defending it. You and yours (and there are a lot of you) have done neither. You take self-interest and raw greed, idealism and generosity and realism and mix them all together and call it the American way, as if naming resolved contradiction. [see how we slide from anthropology into philosophy of language] If your goal is to strengthen your country you’ve failed.
“I thought this was a blog about anthropology. If I want political rants, there are many other places to find them.”
I would like to first apologize to you an anyone else that feels I was doing this, if it’s directed toward me in any way. It was not my intent to rant randomly. I have been trying to deconstruct the dominate narrative in the discipline, which the above cartoon is referencing for a wider audience.
There is a rarely challenged set of assumptions regarding what is in the mind’s and motivations of various actors -concerning things like this recent mine find- which fall into a ready make discourse of causality. This, I think, is do to confirmatory bias in observing some things, while ignoring others. For example, it is often unquestioned that one can speak of global capital flows in a way that an area was always better before modern market forces came to bare on the area, but the assumption is rarely viewed critically.
I’m saying that it might be true in some instances, but I think that this static North/South dichotomy can’t always be true. One need only ask themselves if they’d rather live at any other time in history. They should be honest with themselves, and think about all the things they take for granted that wouldn’t be there. Basically, all the things they hate would be there in spades; war, disease, inequality, slavery, etc… but, all of the amazing and wonderful things that we have done and over come cannot be ignored as though things were so much better before them.
While I didn’t reference them directly, this critique is grounded in what I feel is a bias to ignore cultural materialist, and cultural ecological realities which drive human behavior and adaptation.
I’m arguing against a very short and biased view of history. Along with massive ecological damage, global capital markets have lifted the quality of life of more Chinese people than anything in history. Sure, the benefits are unsymmetrical, but is our rationale really going to be, “everyone suffers or no one suffers?” What is it that the average Chinese person thinks, rather than what is it that we think?
My other critique is that many anthropologists are able to develop such simplistic and absolutest models, because they feel they can play moral judge for others. How do we know that someone in the “South” doesn’t want a shot to get a new household appliance? In my experience, much of the narrative of repressed proletariat rebel is overlaid upon others by us. People don’t seem to be rejecting capital flows in most cases as much as their lack of access to capital flows. Such a narrative is no doubt very accurate in many instances, but we can never just assume, just like Kennedy utilized a cognitive map of the world, rather than an actual one.
“Capitalism in the context of my comment meant that China is trading and investing its way to strategic victory while the US is borrowing (from China) and fighting its way to strategic defeat. ”
You’re right. They are utilizing massive central power to manipulate their currency and market forces to benefit their own people. That however, isn’t an argument against the system. I find it fascinating that a former “periphery” state is now a “core” state due to the relationship. People are angry, because they cheat in a game with no fixed rules, even though we like to pretend.
“The US backed the Taliban.”
I’m gonna let you study up on this, and get back to you later. The US backed the Mujahideen against the Soviets, not the Taliban. The Taliban (a collection of different groups) didn’t exist in their current form until the US left.
Again, the Soviets were basically evil, but we allied with them to defeat the Nazi’s, another evil. Later, this meant that we had to back certain warlords to help them defeat the Soviets. You are discussing these things like they are taking place in a vacuum. It takes a cold man that can that can see the future to tell Afghans that are being cut in half by Soviet gunships, “no, we can’t help you and it’s for the greater good in the long run.” I don’t disagree that we have brought this upon ourselves with our foreign policy, but by keeping ourselves safe, we let Europe burn and China and Korea be enslaved. It was that lesson of a new global reality that has brought us here to this point.
The lesson isn’t that the CIA should have never backed the Mujahideen, but that they should have never left when the Soviets did. The Afghan people would not have been better off being slaughtered by the Soviets, or taken over by them. They would have been better off if we didn’t allow the formation of the Taliban. The collective memory of the US withdraw is keeping most people on the fence. Right now the Taliban’s main propaganda effort is to convince people that we will leave them again, and when we do those who supported the Americans will be killed. I’m not sure they aren’t being very accurate in that line of argument. This has been my fear, because while I know we are fools for staying, part of me feels like we owe these folks something.
So again, this is why this resource find is so important, even though there are a million things that can go wrong.
Capitalism in the context of my comment meant that China is trading and investing its way to strategic victory while the US is borrowing (from China) and fighting its way to strategic defeat.
Seth, I agree with Rick that just because the Chinese are doing this that it isn’t wrong. From a purely economic stand point (not ideological or strategic) it makes sense that China pursues the trading and capital accumulation patterns they are pursuing. Afterall, China needs to keep massive numbers of its population employed (unlike the rest of the world, China cannot politically afford a slump like Europe or the U.S., or forbid Greece). Similarly, the U.S. approach of pursuing borrowers of its bonds to finance its growing debt is a rational (although not wise) policy–U.S. growth has been built on debt since the mid-twentieth century, and the compounding effect of annual inflation and GDP growth has acted to minimize that debt. In a low inflation/low GDP environment such an approach has misgivings, and perhaps it is one the U.S. should reconsider. But it is also a fact that economic policies do run their course, and as countries age and change they tend to lapse. China is on the ascendancy, and it seems it is dawning on many Americans that in short order Chinese GDP will rival that of the U.S., leading to a changed political-economy for the world. However, I don’t agree that this leads to strategic defeat–no matter how people might look at things, the economy operates as it does in capitalist countries to make money for capitalists. Capitalists think only “how is this (whatever) going to make me another dollar?”
This is where I disagree with Rick on how the Afghanistan find of minerals will play out. The capitalists on the ground in Afghanistan are the Chinese (I admit the U.S. is there also), but geographical proximity to China does favour Chinese companies in the region. Rick you seem to acknowledge this, but then you veer off into questions of ideology, and what is the right thing to do in the case of Afghanistan given past strategic actions in Europe and Korea. If I were a capitalist, I would say “Who cares? Just show me how I can make money out of this find.” The question I am asking is who is saying this? American companies? Chinese companies?
Seth brings up that asking these questions raises questions of responsibility. Right, if you are an anthropologist, but not if you are on the ground trying to set up a mining interest. How is setting up mining interests (negotiating with locale leaders for mining rights, local labour etc.) going to bring up questions of responsibility as you envision them? One might think of Union Carbide in Bophal, India in this regard. Questions of responsibility did not arise until after the accident. Can we expect any more in Afghanistan? I am not hopeful.
So bringing this back to anthropology, what does this mean for anthropologists who are acting between on the one hand ideologically minded military agents and on the other hand capitalistic minded company agents. I like both of your comments (both Rick and Seth), but let’s try and ask in the context of Afghanistan what does this mean for anthropological fieldwork? And if responsibility lies with the anthropologist, who will listen in this new gold rush? Furthermore, does the anthropologist run the risk of commiting to an ideological position that does not find purchase among the local inhabitants? Using an analogy with HBO’s Deadwood, the anthropologist runs the risk of becoming like the insane preacher caught between saloon owner Swearengen and sherrif Bullock. Sorry for the TV analogy, but it’s all I could come up with.
“Seth, I agree with Rick that just because the Chinese are doing this that it isn’t wrong.”
Where did you get the idea that I’m a defender of one side or the other? I’ve said the opposite more than once. Rick’s the nationalist, my interests are democracy and law. Countries exist, like sports franchises soft drink brands and corporations, though I have more respect for violent partisans of the Glasgow Rangers than I do for nudnik partisans of Starbucks, Apple, Google or Twitter. And this page links on occasion to the anthropologist from Microsoft: HTS for slackers. The definition of an individualist is someone who doesn’t recognize how closely his behavior tracks the habits and patterns of his peers. A culture of monads is still a culture, it’s just not very interesting.
At the moment the PRC is playing a smart game and the US isn’t. And Chinese nationalism is expansionist, intellectually as well as politically I’m impressed by the leadership and by the people. And on the international stage at the moment with some important exceptions, China is doing more good than harm. A weakened US is better for the world, which is not obviously the same as saying a dominant China would be better. I’m impressed with Brazil and Lula but I’m also impressed by Terry Turner and the Kayapo. If I picked sides I’d pick them, but of course they’ll lose. But maybe they’ll last long enough for some things to change.
Rick quibbles and chatters and sources nothing. The US worked with the Saudis, Zia and the ISI. Look up Hekmatyar, past and present. It’s not pretty. Without millions to Hekmatyar and others like him could Najibullah have stabilized the country? “Again, the Soviets were basically evil.” Enough with the Alec Guinness imitations. Star Wars is a bad children’s movie.
“Rick you seem to acknowledge this, but then you veer off into questions of ideology, and what is the right thing to do in the case of Afghanistan given past strategic actions in Europe and Korea. If I were a capitalist, I would say “Who cares? Just show me how I can make money out of this find.” ”
I agree with you, and you’re right that this is exactly what would be on the mind of someone sitting in front of a computer screen thinking about how to maximize profit. I’m not sure I brought in ideology, instead I’d say I brought in the reality of current “IO” or Information Operations in the region.
I think what I’m trying to say can be made clearer with a comparison of the changes in the military’s behavior. I quoted the back and forth with McChrystal and one of his commanders above, where he notes the pressure of international opinion on his military operations. Another example is almost a year ago when the general removed all US franchises, car sales, etc… (all us vendors) from bases in Afghanistan. He did it to help eliminate the idea that the US is trying to export US culture wholesale to the state among locals (hearts and minds). He also felt that if soldiers ate local food and bought local stuff that they would become better “cultural warriors.” The Army Times blasted McChrystal when he did this, and accused him of destroying the moral of soldiers there.
He is trying to reshape the army to behave in a way that no army has ever behaved in the history of organized warfare. Essentially trying to recreate Big Army into a large special operations force. It’s hard to express how radical this is. They have just shifted operations there away from just killing Taliban, to protecting the local population. If we were to study the situation historically, or what is normal for armies, none of this would fit.
Ok, so I said all that to expand the analysis to the use of military forces for capital expansion. If we look at what has happened recently in Iraq, it also makes no sense. Perhaps someone else will know, but has there ever been a situation in which on country invaded another, wiped out all political and formal military opposition, set up democratic elections for officials who decide to give contracts for their resources to the invading country’s political and economic enemy’s?
In the end it can largely be explained by understanding the information and propaganda war that is at the heart of the physical war. Again, this is something new. Because of this, common models based on profit only behavior no longer fits as well. Therefore, the outcome predicted using older models of colonial, neo-colonial, imperial, etc… become less able to predict what will happen, and it becomes more probable (do not read likely) that the resource find in Afghanistan will profit Afghans, even at the expense of the US. Just as Iraq’s oil is being controlled by Iraqi’s. If I had stated that this would be a possible outcome at the beginning of the war, I’d be considered insane (rightly so), yet this is what’s happened.
How does this relate to anthropology. First, it means that we need to get back into the business of theory building using data, rather than blindly accepting models that can’t accurately explain what’s going on. Second, it means that we have to utilize our skills of cultural translation to increase the flow of credible, and properly framed information between the various groups affected. We know that groups form largely at points of minimal information flow and contact, and violence and exploitation are predictable outcomes.
In colloquial English, half does not always mean 50%. It also has a sense in which it means “one of two major parts.”
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