Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remember when Hamid Karzai was a good guy?

It's strange to think about now, but not that long ago, we ("we" being Joelogon, who knew only slightly more about Afghanistan than Joe Sixpack) used to think Hamid Karzai was a pretty swell guy.
When things really started going south in Afghanistan (after we refocused on Iraq -- funny how that works), I remember thinking, "Man, if something happens to this guy, we're really screwed."

Contrast that to now, where Karzai has practically reached "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" territory.

Of course, 9 years of floundering will hurt anyone's image, but I realized that my initial good perception of Karzai was based mostly on the fact that he spoke good English and looked sharp in a Western-style suit (albeit wearing a funny hat).

It reminded me, in my simple way, how the attributes that make foreign leaders popular with the US -- generally, Western-educated elites with a favorable view of the West -- are the same ones that make them distinctly unpopular with their own people.

Maybe there's something systemic you can blame on colonialism, which relied on exploiting ethnic and sectarian divisions to divide and conquer, favoring one minority group over another and giving rise to elites resented by the rest of the country.

Or, looked another way, the more leaders understand DC politics and are liked by DC politicians, the less they understand and are supported by the people back home (*cough* CHALIBI *cough*).

Anyway, it's been a long time since my international relations courses (and I was a generalist, anyway), but it just seems that we need a rule of thumb: The more we, as Americans, "like" a leader, the less stock we should put in him or her (until they can prove that they can relate to their own people and get stuff done.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

If there are no pictures, it didn't happen

Since I'm having a hard time keeping up with a regular blogging schedule, here are some recent Flickr sets summarizing stuff I've been doing recently:

* Visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California:

* Saw a bunch of military planes and sat in the cockpit of a Harrier jet at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, also in Santa Rosa, California:

* Attended a wedding in California, where I noted that many people were wearing variants of purple:


* Had an In-N-Out cheeseburger. It was okay. I was kind of let down:

All this (and more) was during one long weekend in the Bay Area. Had I planned better, I could have taken some more time and visited other people. Oh, and not taken the redeye back straight into the office Monday morning.

Locally, I also:

* Went to see Goldfrapp at the 9:30 Club (this was after taking the redeye back and working a full day, but before having to attend an early breakfast the next day):

* Participated in the Fairfax County CERT final exercise at the old Lorton Juvenile Detention Facility. We carried Boy Scouts. Also ticks:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Male Nerds at Digital Capital Week

You can see me for about a half-second in this Digital Capital Week Opening Night Party video from this past Friday (at the 1:10 mark):


The fact that the voiceover cuts over to me just as the phrase "male nerds" is spoken is purely coincidental, I'm sure.