Maureen Calls a Maze a Maze
July 28, 2010 by PaulM Posted in Current Events, Election 2010, History, Lowell, Politics 6 Comments
The NYT’s Maureen Dowd nails the situation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen in today’s column. How come they’re only good at fighting us? she asks about the vaunted warrior types of those nations who seem maddeningly slow to form up into national armies charged with fighting the insurgents in their own countries. How come nobody has to “train” the insurgents the way the US and NATO are expensively training the locals? US Rep. Jim McGovern of Mass. is quoted in the column. Read Maureen here, and consider subscribing to the NYTimes if you appreciate the insights and writing.
6 Responses to Maureen Calls a Maze a Maze
I think it’s a lot easier to just blow up innocent people and leave IED’s around than to try to fight a war with minimal collateral damage, protect soft targets, construct and protect a society rather than just destroy it. I’m beginning to think that it’s impossible, in fact. If the Afghans can’t see that the future demands a rejection of the Taliban and the elimination of corruption in their own government, they’ll eventually have to reap what they sow because we just won’t be able to afford these interminable nation re-buildings.
What was the Viet Nam line – “We had to destroy it to save it.” That about says it all. People there and in Cambodia are still being maimed by landmines we left behind and birth defects from Agent Orange and other chemicals are the ugly gift that keeps on giving.
In Afghanistan US forces are being blown up with weaponry left behind that we had given to the forces we are now fighting when we were helping them kick the Soviet Union out of there! A tangled web indeed that the recent dump of ‘secret’ documents helps edify.
Steve, you’re talking as if a rejection of the Taliban and the elimination of corruption are packaged together as one goal. But the Afghan people don’t seem to see it that way. The US installed a corrupt government and we stood by while they rigged a national election. It’s South Vietnam all over again. Is anyone surprised when a majority of the Afghan people would prefer the Taliban? Their government is doing nothing to help them. The Taliban wouldn’t be much better, but they wouldn’t be corrupt.
I think we Americans too often impose our own view of the world on foreign people. The priority isn’t freedom and democracy; it’s a society without yet another lost generation and without a corrupt government. As long as the US bolsters Hamid Karzai’s government we won’t see any progress.
The Taliban wouldn’t be much better? No, I don’t think they would. Corruption is bad.
Converting a soccer stadium into a big place for spectator sports such as hanging and stoning is a bit worse, especially when the crime is something like being a homosexual. I also haven’t heard of Karzai sending out people to beat women who go out alone; in fact schools for girls are being built. Yes, Karzai needs to go, but let’s not kid ourselves that the Taliban would not be much worse.
Let’s also not forget that in certain cases, our view of the world may be right. Honor killings are wrong. Genital mutilation of young women is wrong. Turning children, turning anyone into prostitutes, (see Frontline special “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”) is wrong. The same for hanging homosexuals and treating women as possessions with no individual human rights. The fact that some of these things may be cultural practices doesn’t impress me; as Flannery O’Connor once said, “Some values have to be postulated.”
So yes. the best reason to get rid of Karzai is so the country doesn’t have to endure the Taliban.
Steve, you’re not going to find a more vehement critic of medieval religious practices than me. I want to be clear that I wasn’t defending the Taliban. My point is that a majority of the Afghan people would prefer the Taliban over the Karzai government; I think that tells us just how bad the current government is.
Unless we install an honest and legitimately elected government we will have two choices. Either we remain in Afghanistan indefinitely or we pull out and watch a popular revolution sweep the Taliban into power again. Neither is particularly appealing.
I do want to make a larger point. This came up about China about a week ago. While we in the US see everything you listed as being violations of human rights, the average Afghani (or at least Afghani male) may not. By no means am I justifying their views; I can’t think of a better course of international policy than to put an end to human rights violations. My point is that we’ll never get anywhere if we don’t understand the mindset of the people we’re dealing with.
Read the hundreds of comments on Maureen’s column on nytimes.com to see how intensely people feel about the Af-Pak situation. My sense is that we have reached some kind of hinge point in that war–events are getting ahead of the White House and Pentagon schedule for draw down and hand-over to the locals. The public is out in front of the policymakers. Watch for protests on campuses in September.