May 20, 2009

"...On a scale that makes your eyeballs go dry"

Never liked the fellow, gotta say, but it's hard to wholly disagree with anything David Frum says, somewhat undiplomatically mind, about Afghanistan in this diavlog.

Not having a lingua franca is a huge, unrecognized obstacle to promoting institution-building that simply wouldn't be an issue except in one of the few countries that had never been colonized by anybody (this would never be as big an issue in Africa, for instance). In Afghanistan right now, for approximately the same risk of life and limb at the hands of insurgents, a schoolteacher makes $60 a month, an ANA general officer officially makes $3-400 a month, and the worst interpreter you can find (I mean, really bad: someone who works in English at about the level I work in Urdu) makes more than $500. And there's still lots of unfilled demand for interpreters. So any Afghans with the education to teach (or manage an office or a business) aren't doing that, and any soldier or policeman who manages to pick up some English leaves the security forces almost immediately for better pastures.

Posted by BruceR at 02:03 PM

Today's Afstan pieces worth a read

Registan on ISAF information operations. Qatra qatra.

The Globe on using Canadian-hired contractors to teach an ANA junior officer course (story's wrong on the location, though: it's in Kabul, not Kandahar).*

Both more indications, I trust, we are coming to the end of the problem-definition challenge on this one. Let the problem-solving commence.

*I'm unclear whether this training would be at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan, which graduated its first 84 new officers in January, or (rather more likely) the main army training base, the Kabul Military Training Centre.
Posted by BruceR at 09:12 AM