Friday, March 2, 2012

Short Post Afghanistan

This post is more about Afghanistan than anything else, it's not a mini country profile like the one I did on India, but more of my thoughts on the history of Afghanistan.*

Currently the U.S. still deploys forces to Afghanistan to support ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force).  President Obama says we are drawing down in 2014, the Secretaries of Defense and Chief of Staff confirm the timeline barring national emergencies and unforeseen contingency operations of course.  The news is ripe with stories of the dependence our national security has on covert Navy Seal and CIA operations.  But lets look at Afghanistan a little more closely, in particular starting at the threadbare story of the burning of the Koran (Quran).  Though many stories about the resulting riots have ensued, it is interesting to me that such a strong response is rattling through the country.  These were not Qurans confiscated from ordinary citizens but from detainees, and they were being disposed of it seems (since the investigation is in progress, these are just my speculations as a citizen spectator of the news stories).  It doesn't seem like the holy books were being desecrated actively by misguided or misled Soldiers.  So, it seems to me to be wise to hold back on all the media judgment.

Delving into the country's history, the fiercest resistance has been intertwined with religious zealotry that many Muslims agree is a warped and twisted representation of Islam.  Even with the sensitivity military forces (e.g. ISAF) must have for the culture of a country that is the target for security and infrastructure development, it seems like making mountains out of molehills to trigger violent uprisings and revolts over the accidental improper disposal of the holy texts.  If other big cases of Quran burning are researched just quickly on Google or Wikipedia, it is clear that in those instances the Quran was being purposely defamed and disrespected.  So it confuses me why this bitter outcry?  Is it being fostered by the self-declared guerrilla fighters?  Is it an overreaction due to misrepresentation of the situation?  Research into the strict religious law imposed by the Taliban and the relationship between the leader of the Taliban - Mullah Mohammed Omar - and Osama Bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda forces, shows the shocking and dehumanizing application of religious texts to an already war torn population.  Of particular pertinence to me is the treatment of women under this strict law:  which was absolutely dehumanizing.  It is not unheard of for cultures to subjugate women as second-class citizens, but it was chilling to see how what was at first a resistance to war-lord-ism became a militarily backed movement to apply a specific set of laws to many different peoples.

Since I first read about the leader who was directly opposed to Mullah Omar, Ahmad Shah Massoud has stood out to me as an extraordinary figure and a true loss to military and political operations in the country of Afghanistan.  Also known as the Lion of Panjshir, he was considered by some to be a war lord, but he fought the Taliban and effectively countered them time and time again in the northern region of Afghanistan.  This sort of internal conflict shows me there is something broken within Afghanistan.  I don't think it is a failed country, but maybe it is failed politics.  It is a country whose citizens question the elections, but that is not limited to Afghanistan.  The same goes for Russia, and it wasn't too long ago that American citizens were demanding recounts of votes in Florida.  The difference is of course in the level of activity of the resistance.  Activist groups in the United States raise money and hold up wildly offensive pickets.  Russian protesters mob streets and bridges showing force in numbers of the people who want to see change.  Afghanistan is a mine-filled, AK-47 plentiful, and dangerous land with snipers and small arms fire a risk in many places.

So, what am I saying?  Not much at the moment, just sharing the thoughts that have been brewing in my mind in light of recent news and forgotten history.  What will history think of this in ten years time?  What will we think in just five years?

*I'm still writing for me at the moment, so this isn't well-targeted writing.  I am hoping that my deployment will get me what I need to really put the right edge of genuine experience into my writing and provide direction for the motivation and passion whirring away madly in my heart and mind:  it's energy that already goes into outlets.  I'm hoping to channel it more productively in the future, though.  Comments greatly appreciated!

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