The Dutch went into Uruzgan expecting the same kind of bloody welcome that Canadians have found in Kandahar. (â€¦) But the bloodbath never happened. This past week, the first four-month rotation of Dutch troops started to leave Uruzgan after having completed 400 patrols, established two forward bases and started the slow work of building roads, bridges, schools, and clinics â€” all without a single soldier killed in action, and just two injuries from hostile forces. (â€¦) The success is fragile, Dutch commanders caution, and might be partly the result of luck, insurgents focusing on battles elsewhere or the cautious pace of their arrival. But the early results in Uruzgan also suggest that something these commanders call the â€œDutch philosophyâ€ is worth a hard look. It’s a strategy focused on supporting the local government rather than killing its supposed enemies, talking with the Taliban instead of fighting them, and treading carefully with an understanding of how little any foreigner knows about this untamed country.
Isnâ€™t it beautiful, the simple concept of honestly trying to understand the country that you are supposed to reconstruct, the honesty of army commanders acknowledging that their success may simply be luck, the very idea that somewhere competent people are actually achieving something positive in an ocean of negative forces? Wow.
I was first planning to play down the information in this post with lots of caveats and links to all sorts of nasty things, like this one, and with references to Srebrenica etcetera, so as not to appear too naÃ¯ve. And I am also sure our esteemed commenters will set me straight right away and add the necessary nuance. Today, however, I would like to ditch my personal cynicism for a moment and enjoy this bit of positive news â€œas isâ€.