Afghan Army: “Please Tolerate the US Soldier’s ‘Cultural Insensitivities’ — ‘No Offense’ intended”

October 04, 2012
Turning the Tables in Afghanistan — The Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys
by WILLIAM BLUM

In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.

So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:

“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”

“When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”

“When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)

The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.

Early in 2012, a video showed US soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters

Demonstrators show copies of the Koran allegedly set alight by US soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, during a protest at the gate of Bagram airbase on Feb. 21, 2012. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.

And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.

Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.

I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell. Continue reading

A watchful, critical eye on US troops, training, and “war games” in South Asia

Revolutionary Democratic Front:  “Resolution on US troops in South Asian countries including India” – April 2012

The growing military ties of the Indian state with the number one imperialist power in the world, US, has resulted in joint military exercises and ‘war games’ in recent years. One such training, codenamed ‘Exercise Malabar’, has been made a regular event to be held by the armies and navies of the US and India. This year, Exercise Malabar was conducted by Indian and American armed forces from April 9 to 16 in the Bay of Bengal as well as Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is also in common knowledge that US Special Forces have trained Indian army in ‘counter-insurgency’ warfare and ‘counter-terrorism’ in the so-called Jungle Warfare Schools in Kanker, Chhattisgarh and Vairengte, Mizoram.

Of late a number of defence agreements have been signed by the governments of the two countries. More agreements are in the process of finalisation, including the Logistic Supply Agreement (LSA), Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). The so-called ‘India-Japan-US Strategic Dialogue’ has also been set up with a similar agenda. This shows the growing military alignment of the Indian state with the US and its strategic partner Israel, with multi-billion dollar defense deals with US and Israeli arms manufacturers. India’s defense budget has also been scaled up exponentially in order to satisfy the needs of the imperialist economy spearheaded by the US.

Since 2001, India’s defence spending has risen by more than 60 per cent to $36 billion in 2011 – 2012. Between the years 2007 and 2011, Indian state has signed $35.6 billion worth of defence contracts. The largest share of this spending has gone to the US, the latter now becoming the largest defence supplier to India. American companies have received $12 billion in contracts from India – a 34 per cent share of all defense spending since 2007. Private American companies closely connected to the imperialist ruling class of the US such as Rapischen, Taxtron, BOD, Lockheed Martin, Northcorp, Motorola, GE etc. has benefitted from these contracts. All this is being done in the name of ‘anti-terror cooperation’ and intelligence sharing. Continue reading