East Meets West


Today’s post deals with an issue that we ran across quite a bit in Afghanistan.  As I’ve explained in prior entries, we tried to support Western forces in Afghanistan and tried to help them navigate Afghan society.  Not always successfully, mind you.

For those who haven’t read it, let me recommend “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.  In that book, Robert Pirsig takes on the Western Rational Mindset, and pretty much shoots immense holes in the dialectic, Science and what we call “logic”.


Pictured is a fine example of what happens when a Western military leader runs out of patience and understanding when an Afghan, who wants to please his boss and do a good job, and has difficulty expressing it to that military supervisor.

The problem was, the people who installed the reels put the washers in the wrong place, and then over-tightened the nuts holding them on. When the Afghan who was tasked with putting the hose on tried to explain this to the supervisor, the military guy ordered him to put the hose on so it would come off by pulling on the hose.


So, the Afghan worker solved the problem put before him, in a creative fashion, that went outside the Western logic box.

I am not familiar to what the Military reaction was to this.  I thought it was ingenious and dealt well with both a difficult problem and an intractable supervisor, who wouldn’t listen.  And a very funny series of pictures.


About hotmilkforbreakfast

I am a researcher, a writer, a former soldier, an academic and a lifelong learner. All text and pictures are copyrighted and are not to be used without express permission of the author.
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4 Responses to East Meets West

  1. M. Smith says:

    Mille feuille firehose! Now that’s using the old noodle. Actually, it’s very navy – only we just leave it on the deck.

  2. HAHAHAHA!!!!! Excellent observation, sir!

  3. The washers are in the wrong place, the nuts are over-tightened and the supervisor is intractable: I would say that this Afgan worker did a remarkable job, considering what he was up against. With any luck the supervisor learned something from this experience.

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