Thursday, December 28, 2006

INTERNET FREE KABUL

From a New York Times article about Afghanistan (an article for which I'll admit I have neither the energy nor the interest to slog through in its entirety), we learn that America is losing ground to another country in its efforts to gain influence in Afghanistan. And which nation is this that the US is losing ground to?

Why, it's none other than . . . Iran. And why is this happening? Shared Islam among the Afghans and the Iranians? A common fear of Western influences? Superficial similarities between A-Jad's shaggy beard and Karzai's well-trimmed, metrosexual version?

Uhhhh, let's just say the reason ain't quite that profound. From the NYT (H/T Cunning Realist):
Last year, the Iranian Embassy opened the Iranian Corner, a room in Kabul University's main library filled with computers, books and magazines from Iran, promoting Iran's ancient culture and modern achievements. Librarians say it is more popular than the adjoining American Corner, sponsored by the United States Embassy, primarily because it has a better Internet connection. Unlike in Iran, where the government blocks thousands of Web sites, the Iranian Corner offers open Internet access.
Faster. Internet. Connections. We've bombed Iraq back into the Stone Ages, and spent billions on contractors to rebuild what we've destroyed. We've bombed Afghanistan too, but since they were already in the Stone Ages we stopped. We've been rattling sabres about bombing Iran back into the Paleozoic Era, and rebuilding it as a mega-amusement park and shopping mall to be known as The Wonderful World of Walmart, or alternatively, Walworld.

(Ok, that last part isn't true. Yet.)

We spend literally billions and billions of dollars on defense, aggression, occupation, military technology, and the contractors who work in and around those industries. And yet we don't have the fastest internet connections in Kabul. That, my friends, is utterly absurd.

Can you hear me now?

8 Comments:

Blogger Dwilkers said...

We spend literally billions and billions of dollars on defense, aggression, occupation, military technology, and the contractors who work in and around those industries. And yet we don't have the fastest internet connections in Kabul. That, my friends, is utterly absurd.

And that is why government action skeptics like myself don't think giving the government money to fix things works very well.

What does the federal government do well? I can think of only one department that demonstrates competence at anything; DoD. What does the military do? Kill people and blow shit up. And they're damn good at it too.

OK now, seriously. I've given this a bit of thought over the years. The only thing I can think of that our government is good at is destroying things. That is how a skeptic such as myself is made.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I'm with you regarding the efficacy of the Federal government, that's for sure.

They can't even make the internets run on time.

Or something like that.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

This is why a week ago or so I said 6 months into the Iraq thing I was damn angry Mike.

Why didn't we have a half million electric linemen and telephone guys coming along 5 miles behind our combat advance getting their telephones and electricity running?

I mean, its like 6 months in the thing and the capitol city of the freakin country we just conquered has electricity about half the time and they act like its a huge accomplishment? You realize how big a fookin deal it would be in this country if any city was going without electricity half of every day?

We're dumb, that's all. The only thing that can work - and I now believe this is true generally across the board of human need - is market forces.

You simply cannot expect that the federal government can go into any given situation and provide for human need on demand. It never works, it has never worked, and it will never work. Humans need competition to inspire performance.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Thrillhous said...

Definitely lame about the internet. How can our friends in Kabul get the latest Brittany pics with a junky connection?

As far as the feds aren't good at anything, I'm always surprised that this kind of talk exists anywhere but late-night BS sessions at college and discussions of Ayn Rand books (wait, I think those are the same thing). Ever have a bank account? Without the FDIC, you wouldn't.

1:06 PM  
Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

I've seen the argument that everytime a Muslim gets access to the internet it contributes to the death of Islam.

1:20 PM  
Blogger DED said...

As far as the feds aren't good at anything, I'm always surprised that this kind of talk exists

I think that it's because for every single project that the government (federal, state, local) gets right (and FDIC is a good example), there are nine* others that they screwed up or aren't anything more than pork.

*Ok, my 10% good:bad gov't projects ratio isn't scientifically based. It's a perception. Seriously, Katrina trailers? The evacuation of New Orleans during that storm. The levees. The aforementioned problem with utilities in Iraq (that's a few right there). Ted Stevens $500 million bridge to nowhere.

So color me skeptical.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Mike - Zito to the Giants. 7 years $126 m. PLUS an option for an 8th year for $15 m
the geeks are going nuts. The pompous one is patting himself on the shoulder for calling it.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I generally agree with DED's take on it.

The Fed government's not going anywhere, and it certainly does a few good things from time to time.

But the fucked-up projects, wasted money, and general incompetence overcomes most of the good.

1:59 PM  

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