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Afghan Troops Get a Lesson in American Cultural Ignorance

Afghan Troops Get a Lesson in American Cultural Ignorance | Geography 400 Class Blog RBroderick | Scoop.it
Afghan troops are told that insulting behavior by Americans is an oversight, not a slight.

 

Cross-cultural interactions can be beautiful when immersed into a new cultural setting and the visitor learns to appreciate it.  Unfortunately, it can often lead to clumsy missteps that are born out of ignorance of a new guiding set of cultural norms.  Some missteps can lead to great laughter while others can be gravely insulting.  The United States military seeks to train U.S. soldiers about Afghan customs, but they are trying a new tactic as well to minimize these issues.  The U.S. military has prepared a cultural guide to teach the Afghan soldier that they work with about the curious customs that are part of social interaction in the United States but not considered offensive. 

 

Tags: culture, war, unit 3 culture, conflict.


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Charles Matley's comment, October 1, 2012 11:31 AM
Shows that the United States could use a higher quality education.
Rich's comment, October 3, 2012 1:28 PM
We could have used an idea like this quite a long time ago. The cultural bridges have already been burnt to the ground.
Kendra King's curator insight, February 27, 7:18 PM

I think the comparison to Vietnam at the start of the article shows just how little our culture learned last time. During the Kennedy administration, troops were given "guides" to inform them about the area as the article suggests. However, this "hearts and minds" strategy was a huge failure. So, what does the United States do? Send the army to a forghien country again  with "recommended readings" and superfine "video games." As a result, some are so offended they are killing American fighters. While I might think this a bit extreme, the US also came in the country in an welcomed manner to begin with. Furthermore, the west (overall) consistently looks down upon Middle East culture. Belittling a culture will eventually anger the people. It is common sense that is consistently overlooked. 

 

Something clearly needs to be done and while I think this strategy might not have immediate short term results, the military should continue on with the plan regardless. Currently, the tensions in the country are incredibly high. Clearly, what ever efforts the US put towards working with Afghanistan citizens came of as insincere. As such, people might just look at American's new attempt to work with them as a disingenuous effort. Furthermore, they might think calling it "ignorance," is just excusing Americans' actions. In the long term though, if done correctly, soldier's might actually learn to be more empathetic of the culture and more genuine so that the Afagni's might actually realize it all is just a "big misunderstanding" (there is a significant culture gap that will take time to learn) and not just laziness on the part of American's.    

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The United States in Afghanistan

The Afghanistan War has become one of the longest in U.S. history. United States military forces entered Afghanistan in late 2001, a few months after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

 


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Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 7:04 PM

I think the most interesting question asked was whether or not America will continue to care about wartorn, impoverished Afghanistan now that Bin Laden is dead.  The answer is conflicted.  Obama brought home large numbers of troops after being voted in for his second term but now that America is well aware of the country and its problems, there are still people who care about what is happening to it.

I always advocate for taking care of the U.S. before going out to fight someone else's war and the U.S. certainly needs plenty of help right now. But humanitarian assistance is also needed in Afghanistan and considering it was America that contributed to the problems, we should probably also contribute to the solution (although we should back out before forcing too much of our own flawed system onto their government.)

Amanda Morgan's comment, October 18, 2014 3:39 PM
I find this video along with the lessons for the Unit on teaching the War in Afghanistan useful. By the time I become a teacher, we will be teaching 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The aftermath of bring home troops is what we are waiting to see as the video suggests, will it change our relationship with the region now that we have said enough is enough? I am eager to teach students about this because it is history in the making that is directly affecting their lives as Americans.
Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 11:22 AM

There's a reason that Afghanistan is called "the Graveyard of Empires". It's a centrally located country and one that has been the center of a lot of political and military turmoil over the course of its lengthy history. Great Britain, Russia, and the U.S. have all conducted campaigns of some sort within Afghanistan's borders and they have all been long, costly, and/or unsuccessful. Some of those campaigns were launched simply in the interest of empire building, others with the intention of providing assistance (or at least under that guise, anyway). Whatever the case may be, Afghanistan is a country constantly experiencing turmoil and strife as a result of other countries' interests and intentions. 

 

In many ways, Afghanistan has always served as a proxy in the same way that the Balkans, and later Vietnam and Korea, did for Russia in the beginning and middle of the 20th century. It has almost never been allowed to exist unhindered on its own and to work towards its own interests and issues. Instead, Afghanistan has served as a waypoint for larger, wealthier, and more powerful nations throughout history. Oftentimes, these countries are so far geographically removed from Afghanistan that it begs the question: why are these other countries getting involved? The simple answer is imperialism. Though it may not exist today in the same sense that it once did, the desire of nations to build empires and be a part of globalization is still a very real one, and one that affects smaller and poorer countries around the globe.