color me a cynic but reading some of the stuff on this country i come to the conclusion that everyone is entitled to two things:

one – their opinion.

two – their opinion on afghanistan.

in fact, in the latter case, the only prerequisite is to come under the broad category of sentient life and then start opinionating about this godforsaken and maddeningly complex phenomenon called afghanistan.

knowledge, nuance, coherence, relevance -forget all that.

pontificate like there is no tomorrow (and like there was no yesterday.)

[file under madness, depressive mania, this land, ipontificate]

~ by safrang on April 18, 2009.

8 Responses to “opinionate”

  1. Oh I hope this wasn’t a response to my latest posts!

  2. not at all, transitionland.
    i was actually reading carlotta gall’s latest yesterday a few minutes before i wrote this.
    and i have still not recovered from the shock of how poorly written that guardian article you sent me was -the one that started all this and gave rise to a slew of buzzwords now on every tongue.
    it is that genre of self-serious mass media writing on afghanistan -which is, unfortunately, all the more consequential too- that i am so frustrated about.

  3. At least Dexter Filkins generally portrays Afghans as…a non-monolithic group of normal human beings with complex motivations, opinions, and ideological persuasions, possessing plenty of agency, and capable of as much rationality and irrationality as anyone else anywhere else. (Which should not be so hard to do, right?) He can be a bit hokey at times, but he at least doesn’t feed the Orientalist and “bunch o’ crazies” narratives that so many other journalists do.

    For their part, I don’t think Afghan politicians help at all. The usual suspects LOVE to play the “you cannot possibly understand our culture and Afghan ways”/”This is how we have always done it, do not interfere with our oh-so-static culture” card when they either; a) want something from the international community without any preconditions, or b) want to get away with something corrupt, criminal, or both.

    Working where I do, both kinds of bullshit send me into fits of giggles/weeping in my cubicle every few days.

    Related: I am wallowing in schoolwork right now, trying to bang out a quality paper that applies Eckstein’s congruence theory and Tilly’s three processes from On Democracy to the relationship between the Afghan news media and the National Assembly.

  4. also, case in point, the following by a former srsg to afg:

    boy is he rambling on and on and on. even i could do better half asleep and comatose and still come across as more coherent. there is the mention of geneva conventions, then there is sofa, then there is mention of the women’s demonstrations, and on top he does not miss out on kashmir, medieval rule, elections, the afpak strategy, reconciliation, corruption, and calls for personal security details for the candidates. and of course the purfunctory reference to the bonn process. and this person with the enviable looks of a dignified sea captain was commandeering our broken ship from the watershed moment of bonn to well into the period when things went from okay to oshit.

  5. Oh wow. Blech.

  6. dear hamesha,
    I made a note about this piece on my own blog. it seems that I initially misunderstood your point. I’d thought that you had talked about our fellow afghans who were in the business of mindless pontification ( and honestly I, like tansitionland,thought about myself too). so I wrongly added ” people in this country” from my own inference, referring to those whom i had thought you were talking about as well.

  7. I cant stop laughing when I see you ppl getting mad at the so called orientalist expression “bunch of crazies”. You dont get it my friend!

  8. @haatef: the examples traded in the comments thread came along by chance as i was reading online on afghanistan and were not meant to draw the focus only to western commentators on afghanistan. to be sure there is no shortage of eggregious pontification about the country within afghanistan itself, including by our fellow afghans. so the angry snippet was meant to address both constituencies; present company excluded of course.

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