Posted by: Christian | May 3, 2009

Afghan Survival Mode

H/T Abu Muqawama:

“The Afghans consistently lied to us, and we knew that they knew that we knew it. Yet their lying was far less malicious than it was simply pragmatic. The Afghans of the area are a practical people in survival mode. They didn’t believe that it was in their best interest to help us. Not yet. The most successful local leaders are infamous for taking what they can get from the Americans and then, reportedly, turning around and making overtures to the Haqqani network’s leadership for whatever they can extract from them. The ambitious ones play both sides, while the average villager has little or no concern about who runs the countryside—all he or she wants is to be left totally alone.”

I’m becoming increasingly disinterested in journalists’ accounts from Afghanistan while becoming increasingly interested in accounts by soldiers and NGO workers. This passage above is the type of ground level anecdote that really help out my research (even if it is just confirming Kalyvas). It’s from:

1LT Kevin Bell, ‘Pulling Teeth: An Infantry Platoon Leader’s Perspective on a Year in Afghanistan’, ARMY Magazine, May 2009 (Volume 59, Number 5). Download PDF.


  1. It only reinforces the need for a persistent security presence with the population that is able to push the INS away from the villages. Until that happens I really don’t blame these guys for hedging their bets.


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