“Apathy” is a largely correctable problem if one understands its sources. Whether it comes from a lack of a stake in the society or from a preconscious concept of self, “apathy” freezes everyone in place and makes it hard to get anything done. It is likely, in fact, that widespread “apathy” is an important factor encouraging the widespread corruption that is the subject of so much comment. Corruption facilitates action that is problematic in tribal societies, with widespread “apathy” and low social trust (which limits cooperation between people).
The antidote to apathy is empowerment. Empowering Afghans or other tribal people is a difficult and complex challenge. If we cannot bring ourselves to understand and address the complexities, we should really start dismantling our operation and prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan. The consequences of this, I believe, would be horrendous—resonating across the region. One can only hope that we have the moral and spiritual resources to embrace this challenge and see it to a positive conclusion.