By Mac McCallister | Published: May 12, 2010
Reality in Afghanistan (or in any other country for that matter) isn’t a template of do’s and don’ts. Reality is something that military units and the local inhabitants in specific areas create for themselves.
I recently read a number of manuscripts by the constructivist scholar Alexander Wendt.
The takeaway from Wendt’s work?
The only reality that exists is the one we socially construct for ourselves and others of like mind.
There exists no one reality that can be accessed through empirical research. And, we can’t be sure that the reality we observe exists independently of our observation of it. All human associations, social identities and the interests of purposive actors, are continually shaped, and guided primarily by shared ideas and biases. Furthermore, all relations are socially constructed and given form by social practices and interactions.
Why this matters?
Often, ideas are discounted because they don’t mesh with someone else’s concept of reality. I was on the receiving end myself recently, related to my latest recommendations for prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. And, well, I’ve shot down the ideas of others in the past, too.
End of day, we have to consider the different realities—because the one thing I think we can all agree on is that, in Afghanistan in particular, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, because the realities on the ground vary so greatly.
“Agora” is a place to consider all of the realities.