Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Can NATO troops ever get their message across to Afghans?

June 16, 2010
A Canadian soldier chats with children in southern Afghanistan.Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

A Canadian soldier chats with children in southern Afghanistan.Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

I was with Western forces the other day as they tried to persuade a  group of Afghan farmers to come to them for help if they saw  Taliban militants plant an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or  intimidated them.

A NATO soldier had urgency in his voice. To prove his point,  he told the villagers that a Taliban IED had killed a  five-year-old boy a few days earlier .  Unlike many other NATO  soldiers, he had actually taken the time to learn the local  language. This made him popular. Many people smiled and shook his hand when he walked through villages – although he was constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity.

 He explained why NATO troops had arrived in their troubled  country in the first place – to punish the Taliban for sheltering  Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders after the 9/11 attacks. But the farmers said they did not know why Western forces  were here – after nine years of war.  Perhaps it was because they are used to turmoil and  uncertainty  after three decades of conflict. Maybe  they thought  it just another group of fighters commanded by powerful warlords  who had carved their own fiefdoms.

It seemed they were just nodding politely and making all the  right noises as the Canadian tried so hard to persuade them that  U.S.-led forces can protect them from what he called the bad  Taliban.

 I guess they had good reason to be cautious. One of the farmers  recalled how Taliban militants showed up in Western military  uniforms and slaughtered seven people. So the farmers are likely  to return to their grape fields to scratch out a living and maintain a low profile.

Taking sides has always been a dangerous  game in Afghanistan.


Plan A is to enforce the following procedure, if there are any survivers I’m sure they’re willing to listen ing-to-release-video-of-alleged-u-s-mass acre-in-afghanistan/

Posted by tyco001 | Report as abusive

If the soldier was able to speak the villager’s language then he should know that they detest the foreigners. Besides they do not believe in lies spread by the foreigners. Can the soldier even imagine how many lies the Russian soldiers and the British before them have told the same village people about lies. No one told them that they are there to control them and intend to steal their wealth?
Rex Minor

Posted by rex Minor | Report as abusive

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