The US intervention in Afghanistan props up a thoroughly corrupt government which is fighting a corrupt Taliban. An AP story highlights the pervasiveness of corruption and bribery in Afghanistan.
WASHINGTON ó The farmer picking apples in the outskirts of Kabul must pay the Taliban $33 to ship out each truckload of fruit. The governor sends in armed men to chase workers off job sites if the official bribes arenít paid. Poor neighborhoods never get their U.N.-provided wheat, long since sold on the black market.
Read the whole thing to see how bad it is. Also see this WikiLeaks US diplomatic cable about corruption in Afghanistan. We can't lift up the Afghans into a democratic republic. But why? With one of the world's highest rates of consanguineous (cousin) marriage they lack the attributes necessary to build an uncorrupt society. Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development The US-European intervention in Libya runs up against the same problem with high rates of cousin marriage. What has made Europe so different than the Middle East? Multiple causes no doubt. But "hbd chick" says Europe was able to develop democratic nation-states because the Catholic Church banned consanguineous marriage a long time ago. Critics of the Popes should take note.
Here's a previous explanation I've given on why cousin marriage is the enemy of civil society.
The need for alliances: First off, people are more willing to help their brothers and sisters than their cousins. But they are more willing to help their cousins than to help strangers. Okay, so suppose a man marries his female cousin. Now both he and his wife can go to her brothers and ask for help. They are far more inclined to provide that help because they'll be helping not only their cousin but also their sister with the same act of help.
But if you are married to your male cousin's sister and he is married to your sister you are both far more loyal to each other. But if you are far more loyal to each other you are far less loyal to everyone else. This creates problems in the society as a whole because then there's less motivation to treat all people fairly and do perform acts that benefit everyone.
Middle Eastern societies are very corrupt. Their governments are very inefficient and have bureaucracies that are hard to deal with. You have a hard time getting fair treatment from their bureaucracies and court systems. Why? Lots of the workers in those organizations have primary loyalties outside of the government that are very demanding on them. They've got to cheat and steal from non-relatives in order to fulfill their extended family obligations.
The need for alliances grows out of the lack of ability to deal anonymously with organizations. You've got to have family connections in order to get by. This feeds on itself in a vicious cycle. If you need cousin marriage then you engage in it to help yourself. But that makes you more inclined to screw others which means they need cousin marriage too.
A realistic foreign policy would throw out the last half century of politically correct nonsense about human nature and go back to earlier wisdom for guidance. John Adams on virtue and republics comes to mind:
The Form of Government, which you admire, when its Principles are pure is admirable, indeed, it is productive of every Thing, which is great and excellent among Men. But its Principles are as easily destroyed, as human Nature is corrupted. Such a Government is only to be supported by pure Religion or Austere Morals. Public Virtue cannot exist in a Nation without private, and public Virtue is the only Foundation of Republics. There must be a positive Passion for the public good, the public Interest, Honour, Power and Glory, established in the Minds of the People, or there can be no Republican Government, nor any real Liberty: and this public Passion must be Superiour to all private Passions. Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions and Interests, nay, their private Friendships and dearest Connections, when they stand in Competition with the Rights of Society.
If a people lack Virtue as Adams understood it then US foreign policy should not assume an outcome is possible which relies in that Virtue.
Why doesn't US foreign policy adopt a much more realistic view of the character of individual nations? Why not accept that factors like consanguineous marriage place severe limits on what we can hope to achieve in our many foreign interventions? Unfortunately, too many elite interests stand in the way of a foreign policy shaped around only vital US interests. Part of the problem, I suspect, is as biological as cousin marriage. Daniel Larison notes a recurring theme of invented enemies even in 19th century European statecraft. This problem is not just the result of neoconservatives trying to make the US dominate the Middle East. A bunch of guys with a large amount of military power are going to tend to look around for enemies. The might of the US military attracts people who invent enemies in their minds to the levers that control it.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2011 July 04 11:36 AM MidEast Afghanistan|