(Business Insider) — An Afghan American who served as an interpreter for the US during the war in Afghanistan said in a Washington Post op-ed that America’s lack of knowledge about the culture of the country contributed heavily to its failures there.
“Many Americans have been asking: Why is this crazy scramble necessary? How could Afghanistan have collapsed so quickly? As a former combat interpreter who served alongside U.S. and Afghan Special Operations forces, I can tell you part of the answer — one that’s been missing from the conversation: culture,” wrote Baktash Ahadi, who served US and Afghan special operations troops as a combat interpreter from 2010 to 2012.
“When comparing the Taliban with the United States and its Western allies, the vast majority of Afghans have always viewed the Taliban as the lesser of two evils. To many Americans, that may seem an outlandish claim,” Ahadi went on to say. “But the Americans also went straight to building roads, schools and governing institutions — in an effort to ‘win hearts and minds’ — without first figuring out what values animate those hearts and what ideas fill those minds. We thus wound up acting in ways that would ultimately alienate everyday Afghans.”