Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Torch Tortures Logic

In an effort to prop up the mission in Afghanistan and somehow prove it isn't an imperial enterprise, the pro-war Torch insists that we listen to ordinary Afghans on the NATO mission there. After quotes from four honest-to-God Afghans, The Torch rests its case. In a country of 30 million they found four people who like ISAF. Game, set, and match.

Okay, calm down, I'm using a literary device here known as sarcasm. What's really silly is the conclusion that the Torch draws from these four possibly representative Afghans:
"They're asking for our help. That's all they want: a hand up. It baffles me why so many Canadians want to deny them that."
The question that this reasoning begs is whether we are even able to offer the Afghans anything. It doesn't take a great many of them remaining sympathetic to the Taliban to really undo our efforts such as they are. Remaining sympathetic to the Taliban need not be a religious position, it could be interwoven with Pashtun tribal identity. Additionally we risk alienating a great many opium farmers by going along with the American fusion of the war on drugs with the war on terror.

There are so many ways that we can get this badly, badly wrong, there are so many things that we do not know about how to deal with Afghanistan that the idea that this mission is akin to lending the Afghans (or at least four of them) a cup of sugar is absurd. I don't wish to "deny" my "help" to anyone, I'm just not convinced that we have any real, longterm help to offer, I'm not convinced that girls won't be kicked out of school as soon as we leave, I'm not convinced that bans on beard-shaving won't be reinstated. Do we really think that a few years of NATO will undo centuries of tribal culture amongst subsistence farmers in a harsh, remote region?

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