Monday, June 20, 2011

Causing Harm in the Name of Doing Good

Is the West taking away the best thing Afghans had going for them?

Retired US foreign service officer Patricial McArdle contends that well-intentioned Western aid programmes are undermining Afghanistan's locavore tradition.

...few realize that one of the most promising models for sustainable living is not to be found on organic farms in the United States, but in Afghanistan.   A majority of its 30 million citizens still grow and process most of the food they consume. They are the ultimate locavores.

...instead of building on Afghanistan’s traditional, labor-intensive agricultural and construction practices, the United States is using many of its aid dollars to transform this fragile agrarian society into a consumer-oriented, mechanized, fossil-fuel-based economy. 

...Sustainable development in Afghanistan has taken a back seat to “quick wins” that can be reported to Congress as indicators of success: tractors that farmers can’t repair and that require diesel fuel they can’t afford; cheaply built schools; and smooth but wafer-thin asphalt, which will never stand up to Afghanistan’s punishing climate without costly annual maintenance.

It's hard to argue with McArdle's claims but it's just as hard to see how Afghanistan could ever have preserved its pastoralism after a decade of Western intervention focusing world attention on that country's and its region's natural riches.   Afghanistan, it seems, is doomed to be dragged, kicking and screaming if need be, into the 21st century or at least some backward, feudal, fundamentalist echo of 21st century modernism.  It is lamentable that the country's mineral wealth is being opened up to exploitation while it is still saddled with a government considered by many to be a "criminal enterprise."

1 comment:

LeDaro said...

A weapon factory will be a good business venture as it would go well with the opium trade.