How to Fake Being an Afghanistan Expert

Ever wanted to fool people into believing you're an expert in Afghanistan and the near-decade-long war there? Now you can, with this handy 12-point plan. Posted by writer and actual Afghanistan expert Christian Bleuer, the tips were written by a "friend" who requested anonymity "in the hope of shilling for the Pentagon for $1000/day." Here are four of the 12 points:

1. Cite your most recent trip to the region where you saw - with your own eyes, absent the media's blinders - irrefutable progress. Add points if you spoke with some cigar store Afghan who confirmed this for you. Add double points if you attended an actual jirga. (Subtract points if you were actually at a shura and mistook it for a jirga).
3. Visit a bazaar. Chat with friendly merchants. Lots of salaams, lots of right-hand-over-your-heart greetings. Buy a (warm) orange Fanta. Note - often and loudly - that this bazaar was closed until ISAF forces arrived. Add points if you can drive to this bazaar, versus flying. Add double points if you can wear armor and helmet without looking like some parody of an obese war tourist.
7. Whatever you do, avoid spending too much time in Afghanistan. In addition to acquiring language skills and some measure of cultural understanding, you risk becoming cynical and perhaps even despairing of our odds of success.

8. Adopt a "these aren't the droids you're looking for" approach to the region. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and amid the protests of others who have spent years on the ground (cynics; see #7), imply that through sheer force of will and maybe a Jedi mind trick or two, we shall overcome. Add points if you can beat the other experts in latching onto some insignificant scrap of "evidence" supporting "progress." Add double points if you are the first to tweet about it.

Read the whole list at Ghosts of Alexander.

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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