What do Afghanistan and Haiti have in common?

This week, we have seen disaster in both Afghanistan and Haiti.  On the surface, they would seem to have very little in common, besides both being desperately poor countries.  Also, the US has been involved in both countries for a long time.

If we look closely, however, we see similarities which may partially explain what has been happening lately in both countries.  This week, the US, after 20 years in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and ISIS, abruptly abandoned the country, letting the always-waiting Taliban take over fully.  The president of the Afghan government himself, abandoned his country and fled abroad.  Earlier in the week, it was reported that Afghan “security forces” melted away without a fight, and fled into the countryside, or were massacred by the Taliban.

In Haiti, which has never recovered from the big earthquake in 2010 (in spite of massive US and UN response); their president was assassinated by a team of gunmen connected to more than one government, and terror groups.  Then this week there was another powerful earthquake, bringing death and destruction to the very poor people there.

What, you ask, are the similarities?  Just look at the responses of both countries to their disastrous situations.  Both Afghanistan and Haiti have been led by ineffective governments, who do not in most ways represent their own people.  Afghanistan is a “manufactured country”, slapped together after World War II by the countries in power then.  The people there are still largely tribal, bearing very little real allegiance to whatever “central” government has been in power at the moment.  Never has the entirety of the people of Afghanistan had allegiance to the government-their allegiance remains to their tribes and the warlords of those tribes.  The US, in its 20 years of training the Afghan army, has had less-than-stellar success.  Inside “traitors” have continually robbed the army of weapons and other supplies, and there are constant stories of Afghan troops turning on their fellows and shooting them, before deserting back to their tribes in the mountains.

In their final agony, the people of Afghanistan did not even try to help themselves and fight the Taliban en masse.  Their troops abandoned their posts without a fight, and large numbers were captured or killed.

The big similarity with Haiti is that the people simply will not or cannot help themselves.  The people of Haiti have a history of “Voodoo Culture”, brought there by African slaves in the 18th Century.  Voodoo makes its adherents very passive, and subject to domination by whatever group is powerful today.  They have not had a functioning government for decades, they remain desperately poor and illiterate, and when a natural disaster strikes they do not help themselves, but passively wait for someone else to clean up their messes.  They sit in the ruins of their houses and wail, hoping to be rescued.

It is a crying shame that both Afghanistan and Haiti are basically failed states, and their people will be decimated by whatever powerful faction comes to take over.  Until both peoples take full responsibility for themselves, their futures remain dark.  No Western country can solve either country’s basic problems or significantly improve their situations.  They must come to their own aid first.  Will this ever happen?  Unknown, but highly unlikely.

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