Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Startled Pashtun Villagers Photo of the Day (XII)

Elders of Qal'eh-ye Golay. They just could not figure us out, heh heh. When the Soviets were there, and they wanted something - they took it. But we spent months negotiating leases on enough land to put in a road to our base...and not only did we pay, but they could use the road too. As I say, they didn't really understand us fully.


Blogger tempus42 said...

That is a sad statement on the ethical, technological, and financial state of most of the world. Major John and I discussed this once: I asked "Why have some parts of the world never really progressed out of the Iron Age?" John answered: "The real question is, 'Why have a very few parts of the world progressed so quickly so very recently in the grand scheme of things?'" Is the natural state of man to be progressive and striving toward improvement, or to lead a semi-civilized subsistence existence? Is the U.S. an aberration?

10:19 AM  
Blogger doug said...

I just stumbled across this older post but I wanted to ask just 1 question.

Although they did not understand why you were doing things the ways you were doing them,was there any indication that :
A.They just thought you were somehow clueless and naive?
B.Confused or not did they evidence any 'contentment' that you were not just treating them as 'lesser' beings with no say in the matter?

Just interested as I would have thought that if nothing else their 'honour' would be very much satisfied by being treated as persons of value.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Inner Prop said...

To be fair I must make mention of most of the leases at my base, Salerno. All but two of our leases were a pay one time for all eternity thing. We paid a paltry sum and then got to do as we pleased with the land (destroy, build, kill trees, etc). Most of the locals didn’t understand that either and were constantly asking us for more money.

Afghan culture prizes swindling as one of the high arts and it was not uncommon for someone to bring some blatantly fraudulent claim in and expect the nice gullible Americans to just fork over barrels of cash (only $50 bills please, they are worth more than 50 singles on the black market). In this case though I think they didn’t understand when they signed and don’t understand now.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Major John said...

Doug, I think the confusion was a happy one. "Hey, these guys aren't going to just take what they want!" Once they got used to dealing with a civilian from the US Army Corps of Engineers who was there to be our land issue expert (try explaining that one...) they were quite happy. The best evidence I had of that was the fact that the leases could not change price during their term, but the landowners could extend the leases - they saw we were dealing with them fairly (and that we did, in fact, pay), and they promptly started coming to us asking to extend the leases.

9:05 AM  

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