On International Women’s Day, it seems fitting to suggest an article by a woman who has spent most of her life writing about women — most especially the women societies often ignore, those battered in their homes and battered by the wars men make. At TomDispatch today, writer, photographer, humanitarian worker, journalist and my personal friend Ann Jones brings her years of experience working in Afghanistan to bear in “Green on Blue, Dead Americans, Dead Goats, and Half a Million Gunmen on the Loose.”
In a powerful and highly-original piece — part history lesson, part analysis of current events — Jones examines just what happens when your Plan A craters and you have no Plan B. Yes, Jones, reminds us, Washington did have a Plan A in Afghanistan. The Afghan National Army that America is training at the cost of $12 billion a year was supposed to take over security as the U.S. military drew down. The recent killings of U.S. military personnel by “allies” in that force remind us that Plan A is a goner, but Washington is sticking to it because they never considered any other options.
Jones reveals just why training up a vast Afghan National Army never made sense. “In short,” she writes, “Afghan history is a sobering antidote to the relentless optimism of the American military. Modern Afghan history indicates that no Afghan National Army of any size or set of skills has ever warded off a single foreign enemy or done a lick of good for any Afghan ruler.”
In addition, she uses the Afghan national game, buzkashi, in which mounted horsemen vie for possession of a dead goat, to explain just why, as the ultimate survivors, Afghans — like the players in that game — look for winners to back and why, as Washington draws down its forces, Afghan troops will look for new “khans” to support.
Jones is one-of-a-kind and so is this article. Don’t miss it!