There was a fascinating article in the NY Times (1/31/10) that suggested “America’s New Hope” could be “The Afghan Tribes.” In addition to the distinctions within the Afghan tribal system outlined in the article was a general description of how the system works. “Tribal authority is exercised by elders at all levels – – from families to villages to district councils to councils that lead tribes…Their biggest political asset is their reputation; if they attract financial support for a village project like a road or a well, their standing…soars. If they fail to get the aid, they lose face…They can also lose face by breaking an agreement or failing to deliver on a promise to those they represent.”

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