Afghanistan Is Our Welfare State: The Mundane Details of Occupation:
One of the less glamorous aspects of the release by Wikileaks of oodles of secret documents related to the sad circle jerk that is the Afghanistan war is the clear demonstration that the actual day-to-day existence of Afghans is dependent on the occupiers (or, you know, mostly us). Sure, it's important to talk about the other revelations (or confirmations): the collusion between Pakistani intelligence and the Taliban, the ill-equipped troops in battle, and the bullshit Afghan forces that have the discipline of a pack of brain-damaged cats. But, as Evan Hill writes for Al-Jazeera, the mundane and quotidian aspects of Afghan existence demonstrate a level of dependency on NATO and the United States that'd make an opium dealer jealous.
The NATO provincial reconstruction teams (PRT) essentially decide who has power and who does not, who gets paid with reconstruction cash and who goes home empty-handed, and you can bet that every one of those decisions simply leads to the inevitable creation of more enemies that need to be fought.
There are land disputes: "In 2005, men of the Nasir tribe then living in Pakistan came to the Zabul PRT, not the Afghan government, to seek help returning to land along the border they said had been granted to them decades before by the Afghan king."
There are financial decisions related to reconstruction: "In December 2006, NATO forces awarded a bridge-building contract in the village of Pitigal to the local shura. The provincial governor overruled NATO and picked another man for the project. He promised to inform the shura, but never did. Unaware, the shura spent its own money to hire an engineer to conduct an estimate, survey the site and begin supervising construction.
"During a meeting the following January, after the shura realized they had been shut out of the deal, they told NATO officials they felt deceived. Nato made no apologies for the governor's decision and refused to reimburse the shura for the work it had done.
"An attempt by the commanding American captain to 'refocus' the shura on other matters 'was met with disinterest,' the report states."
There's the question of who to trust at all: "In 2006, a PRT in the Paktia province met Colonel Qadam Gul, the chief of police.
"Gul, according to a report of the meeting, had earlier told contractors that he had signed a non-aggression pact with the local Taliban.
"During the meeting, Gul told the PRT that the Taliban were laying low, waiting for coalition forces to leave. He accused another man, a local shura member, of being a Taliban commander and receiving support from Quetta, Pakistan, the reputed headquarters of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammed Omar."
There's a sad, Sisyphean hopelessness to the entire thing: "When an elder from a small farming village of 300 families made an unannounced visit one December to the Nuristan PRT to ask for help to prepare for the upcoming winter, the PRT brushed him off.
"They told the man to take his case to the district governor and that they would give supplies to the governor for distribution.
"The elder said he doubted that the governor would ever deliver the goods to the neediest people."
What you get from these less sexy documents is a portrait of soldiers and officials attempting to transform a country into something it is not. It's impossible. And what Wikileaks has forced us to see is that it's madness to continue.