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aries1988 : afghanistan   4

Why some countries come together, while others fall apart | Aeon Essays

A comparison between Switzerland and Belgium, two countries of similar size, with a similar linguistic composition of the population, and comparable levels of economic development, provides an example. In Switzerland, civil society organisations – such as shooting clubs, reading circles and choral societies – developed throughout the territory during the late 18th and first half of the 19th century. They spread evenly throughout the country because modern industries emerged across all the major regions, and because Switzerland’s city-states lacked both the capacity and the motivation to suppress them. In Belgium, by contrast, Napoleon, as well as the Dutch king who succeeded him, recognised the revolutionary potential of such voluntary associations, and suppressed them. Even more importantly, the associations that did exist in Belgium were confined to the more economically developed and more educated French-speaking regions and segments of the population.

In 1831, when Belgium became independent of the kingdom of the Netherlands, most of the new rulers of the country had long been members of these French-speaking associational networks. Without giving it much thought, they declared French the official language of the administration, army and judiciary. Despite forming a slight demographic majority, those who spoke only Flemish were not part of these networks, and were therefore excluded from the central government. Until the end of the 19th century, the Flemish were ruled as an internal colony of Francophone Belgium. Early nation-building failed, the language divide became heavily politicised during the 20th century, and the country is now close to breaking apart.

Generations of political ties across linguistic divides allowed nationalist intellectuals and politicians to imagine the Han nation as multilingual, but ethnically homogenous.

Supporting civil society organisations can lead to backlash against foreign influence and political interference. The recent crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs in many eastern European countries is just one example of the risks run by a strategy of cultivating civil society organisations from outside. In the long run, however, such organisations help to provide a political infrastructure to establish ties across ethnic divides and move toward national political integration. A consistent and long-term strategy, such as that pursued by Germany’s political foundations or the Soros foundation, might still be the best way to help citizens connect with each other based on a shared cause, rather than shared ethnicity.
book  nation  state  origin  irak  afghanistan  howto  today  aids 
june 2018 by aries1988
A Deadly Deployment, a Navy SEAL’s Despair
Fellow officers saw the death of Cmdr. Job W. Price, which was ruled a suicide, as a cautionary tale of how men were ground down by years of fighting and losing comrades.
story  american  soldier  afghanistan  war  leader  local  camaraderie 
january 2016 by aries1988
Our War Against the Pashtuns

The fact is that a plurality of Afghans are rural Pashtuns. Leaving aside the reasons for the US intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 (which I continue to believe was in itself justified as a response to the September 11 attacks), it is obvious that the effect on Afghanistan’s civil war was to tip the military balance in favor of the non-Pashtun nationalities and the small number of more-or-less “secular” or at least urbanized Pashtun forces (represented in the anti-Taliban “Northern Alliance”), and against the forces of Pashtun rural conservatism. Unfortunately, the great majority of Pashtuns still live in the countryside, or are recent migrants to the cities who have not yet adopted the more open attitudes of urban society. The tragic reality, then, is that among the Pashtuns, no mass constituency for liberal reforms exists—at least of the kind that could have given democratic support for such reforms or motivated large numbers of young Pashtuns to volunteer to fight and die for them in the way that they have been willing to fight and die for the Taliban.

In Afghanistan itself, the Pashtuns make up some 40 percent of the population (though of course estimates by Pashtuns themselves range up to 70 percent), considerably outnumbering the next biggest ethnicity, the Tajiks. Almost equally important however is the fact that most Pashtuns in the world live not in Afghanistan but in neighboring Pakistan, which has more than 20 million. The fact that the Pashtuns straddle the British-drawn border between Afghanistan and Pakistan has had disastrous effects over the past 40 years
afghanistan  usa  war  history  ethnic  analysis  2012 
august 2012 by aries1988

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