Hoban Urges US to Be Ethical and Patient in Afghanistan

Saturday, 17 Nov 2012 10:20 AM

By John Bachman and Stephen Feller

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It took 200 years for the United States to get from the Bill of Rights to actually giving people the rights they should have at the start, and countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan are going to take time to catch up, said author Jack Hoban in an interview with Newsmax TV.

Hoban, a Marine and president of Resolution Group International, said that honor and ethics, as well as patience, are vitally important to the mission of American soldiers - and all central to the basic concept of protection that embodies the work they do.

“Can you imagine if an alien super race came down in 1776 and talked to Benjamin Franklin and said, ‘Hey, we’re here to help you. We see that you’re under the boot of an immoral or disrespectful master. But you know what? You’re going to have to stop slavery, you’re going to have to emancipate all the slaves, you’re going to have to give women the right to vote – you’re going to have to have sweeping civil rights reform before we’ll do that,’” Hoban said.

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“And Ben Franklin goes, ‘Well, that’s probably going to take us about 200 years to get to that point.’ And then the aliens would just say, ‘Well, we don’t have 200 years to wait for you to grow up.’ And they’d get back in their spaceships and fly away, right? So we’ve got to be patient and respectful of the Afghan people and the Iraqi people to make the same kind of mistakes that we made as a nation. I don’t think it’s going to take them 200 years like it took us to get to this point. They’re going to do it quite a bit faster and we should be patient and supportive of that. But we can’t do it for them.”

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Although there are politics involved in the way that progress happens, Hoban said that as a Marine he stays away from politics. What he does know, he said, is that if any of the situations the U.S. military is trying to assist people to fix are approached with politics instead of ethics, the mistakes and resulting problems will be much worse.

“It’s going to take a long time and we’re going to make a lot more mistakes,” Hoban said. “What we have to do is get back and say what is the right thing to do? What’s the respectful thing to do? Keeping in mind our cultures are different [and] that we have a tremendous clash of relative values. How do we support and respect these human beings to the best of our ability knowing that it’s going to take time?”

Hoban’s latest book, “The Ethical Warrior: Values, Morals and Ethics for Life, Work and Service,” is about his work with the Marines and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. It focuses on their work with the counter insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan as the Marines worked to “win the hearts and minds” of the people they’re there to protect.

“Everybody has, in their core inclination, this proclivity to be a protector,” he said. “If you help them clarify what it is to be an ethical protector, whether it’s their family, their co-workers, the people that they pass on the street, the people that they’re sharing the roadways with, it just translates into a better, more productive, happy life for them.”

A big part of what he worked with Marines on was to recognize that while some of what they may come in contact with offended or disgusted them, or worse, that they need to be respectful of the people’s culture they are working with.

“When you see a relative value or a relative behavior that you don’t like, it’s okay to be politically incorrect and not to like it,” Hoban said. “But that does not mean that you can dehumanize or demonize the person that did it. You need to see inside of that and see that person as an equal human being. And that, for most of us, most of the time, is a stronger, better feeling proclivity. And if you can activate that, and that’s what our training does, it activates that feeling of respect for people regardless of their behavior, even if we know that their behavior is immoral or criminal or wrong or just downright uncomfortable for us.”

In light of the recent revelations about former CIA Director David Petraeus, Hoban said that the power that comes with being a military commander can corrupt.

Not because people are bad, he said, but the position of protection that commanders are in, like parents, bosses or any number of similar positions, can motivate the selfish nature to protect - and it’s the selfishness that people need to be careful of.

“It’s more human nature in that we have this competing feeling within ourselves that we want to protect ourselves and take care of ourselves,” Hoban said, “kind of a natural, selfish inclination which is natural and there’s really nothing wrong with it.”

“But this feeling of self-satisfaction, sometimes, if it becomes too great, it tends unbalance us,” he said. “It can unbalance all of us. Philosophers have been talking about it for thousands of years. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The secret to try to get the balance back is what I try exploring in the book.”


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