Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's Worth Dying for in Afghanistan?

I'm sure we've all seen this nastiness from the Taliban:

... if your government continues a reversed policy, the Afghans will be obliged to kill your nationals, in revenge for their brothers, their sisters, and their children ... Afghanistan looks at all actors that are established in the interest of America with an eye of hostility ... Therefore, you have to convince your government to put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan, so that the Afghans are not killed with your hands and so that you are not killed with the hands of the Afghans.

I don't think I even have to look at what any of teh blogging tories are writing to know the sentiment the right wing will be expressing. It's guaranteed to be of the "never surrender, go get 'em" direction.

What's being said, parsed simply word for word, is perfectly reasonable. Stop killing them and they'll stop killing us. Our forces have been demonstrably killing their civilians and so they've begun killing ours. It's evil, but so are the Taliban. I'm only surprised it took this long. Spain got hit a long time ago.

But there's a price in walking away. We know what the Taliban are doing to their own people - especially their women. We knew about this long before September 11, naturally, but the media only directed the general public's attention to it then, so effectively no one cared beforehand.

So what? Should we be fighting for the freedom of the women of Afghanistan?

A long time ago, when the patriotic nonsense reached a fever pitch in late 2001, a reader of my column warned me that my "tune would change when bombs started falling on Ottawa". I pointed out to him, responding to his Rumsfeldian flourishes, that the Taliban had no reason to bomb Canada. We'd never done anything to them. If they were truly in league with Al Qaeda (which wasn't all that clear at the time, given that the Taliban had offered to turn over Bin Laden) the people they had attacked were the military, political and economic leaders of the United States. This had little to do with the purported religious motivations of Al Qaeda or with any issue in regard to those guys up in Canada.

Well, now they have a reason to attack us, don't they? We've sent our soldiers over to their country and our orders have led to the blowing up of a few weddings. Plenty of people here say that they deserve it. After all, they're sheltering the Taliban, aren't they? Well, no, they're living in a ridiculously crude, theocratic dictatorship and so have no choice in the matter.

We, however, are living in a democracy. That comes with a greater responsibility. We, not our soldiers or our military leaders, are responsible for what our nation does. That means that every one of us had better be deciding, right now, what price we are willing to pay to set free the women of Afghanistan.

And if we do decide that we are willing to take that risk, the risk of retaliation, then we had better whip our politicians and military brass in to line and make sure they are delivering - ONLY delivering - freedom to those oppressed people.

We had better make sure that they aren't just there to deliver natural gas and oil to India and Pakistan.

Because none of us are willing to die for that.

Recommend this PostProgressive Bloggers

No comments: