This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with an anonymous advisor to senior US military officers for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
Interviewee: Anonymous Interviewee (AI2)
Employment position(s) referred to in interview: Running a manufacturing cooperative in Afghanistan; anonymous advisor to senior US military officers
Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)
Date: August 11, 2011
Location: Washington, D.C., USA
Interview was conducted in an outside public space so there are minor levels of background noise; at times the wind makes it difficult to understand what is being discussed. In these instances please consult the transcript.
General questions about your career and approach to humanitarian work [00:17 – 24:19]
Inspiration of parents; developed ethical identity from father’s holding up America to its own professed standards; US government colleagues defining interviewee as an idealist; principles and ideas versus the inequality of minority groups during the founding of the US; consistency in the world in what people want from life and government; importance of the US to support principles of equality at home and abroad; interest in international relations from childhood; difficulties of being a Peace Corp volunteer in Morocco; role in the US military is to ask difficult questions; perception of State Department being too bureaucratic; working as a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio; attitudes towards dealing with powerbrokers; running a cooperative business in Afghanistan; dissatisfaction with failure of relations between US and Afghanistan to change relations between US and the Muslim world; experiences of being a foreign women in Kandahar is like being a ‘third gender’; being accepted as a co-elder; importance of making incremental changes in Kandahar in regards to improving women’s lives for fear of a backlash.
Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [24:20 – 40:18]
Dissatisfaction with counterinsurgency strategy emphasising security first then governance; dangers of corruption endemic in the state system; working with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to combat corruption; targeting Afghan officials and how they could be persuaded to move away from corruption; working on corruption at the strategic level; discussing state capture by ‘mafia’ organisations in Afghanistan and how this related to a number of other countries; US government and General Petraeus decided not to follow with the ISAF anti-corruption drive.
Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [40:19 – 46:40]
Working with Afghan women in the 2003 constitutional drafting process; importance of pushing non-gender issues before gender issues; employing a gender-focussed person on a project for the Afghans for a Civil Society NGO; working with women to empower them from employment; employing men and women in the manufacturing cooperative;