Friday, February 01, 2008

Afghanistan Argument

A common argument used by most people who want to stay in Afghanistan longer then 2009 is that we went into Afghanistan to help free the Afghan people from the oppressive regime that is the Taliban, and indeed we are still there to make sure the Taliban never come back. Now I don't think anyone would suggest the Taliban weren't oppressive and cruel, but the question is, does that justify upturning a government and all of its institutions, killing 30,000 Afghan civilians, and forcing over 3 million Afghans to flee?

Well some may say, and it has some appeal, that since there was a wrong, since there was an injustice; women were forced to wear burkas and seen as inferior; children were repressed, couldn't even fly kites; other freedoms were restricted; and basically there was a horrible and cruel rule imposed on the Afghan people, so we are justified in going in and staying there until the Afghan people can stand up for themselves.

However though that may have some appeal, when analyzed I argue it actually does not and can not.

Let me pose an example, imagine if the Taliban never issued strict punishments and repressive laws, but instead imposed their stict view on society through the educational system. Imagine the Afghan youth, as blank slates were brought up not only to think women were inferior, but that it was right to think that way. Imagine children were taught to view freedoms as wrong and naturally bad. In such a situation would NATO and Canada be justified in going into Afghanistan? I believe the common-sensical answer would be no.

Now in both examples, the Taliban is imposing their strict view of society on the Afghan people, and that was the crux of the argument by those who attempt to justify why we went there, so how can it justify it in one instance but not in the other? My answer is that in the first example because of the oversimplification the natural reaction is, "Well it's a wrong so let's fix it," well it may be a wrong, but as the second example illustrates countries are wrong all the time, indeed sometimes even worse then the Taliban was in Afghanistan, yet we respect they can govern their own domestic affairs like we can.

Some may still refute my argument, so let me ask this, would other countries have been justified in upturning our government, killing 30,000 citizens, and forcing millions of Canadians to flee when we viewed women as property? When we could freely beat them? When child abuse was normal? When we had capital punishment?

I don't think so.

6 comments:

Herbinator said...

Good on ya. You tell'em, Scottie.

Anonymous said...

The Taliban broke the rules when it was found that they actively harbored and allowed Al Quada to plan attacks on U.S interests throughout the Middle East, Africa and eventually New York.

If they had stuck to their own domestic affairs, no one in the west would have cared. It’s the reason why the U.S doesn’t go around and throwing out governments in Sudan, Burma, the stan’s in central Asia etc.

Anonymous said...

Your foreign policy views articulated in the article are just as dangerous as the views articulated by individuals who add a moral dimension to the argument.

Keeping a blind eye on problems that happen to be contained domestically (ie. genocide) and have no bearing on western interests is just as bad as claiming "freedom is on the march"

The fact is, the Taliban had to be overthrown because of 9/11. It’s simple as that. The electorate in the U.S demanded it. What is not simple is what had to happen afterwards to bring stability into the region.

In fact, the Taliban have gone and record and said they had been expected to be overthrown for supporting the attacks.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1: By active harbouring do you mean with permission? Because I don't think anyone can actively harbour or passively harbour anything. So if you mean by permission then why couldn't NATO and Canada put pressure on the Taliban, and if needs be go in to get Al-Qaeda, but where is the need to topple a government and fight a war for over 7 years? (2011)

Anon 2: I believe morals come into play when lives are on the line, or for that matter every second of my life morals are in play.
-scott

Anonymous said...

So if you mean by permission then why couldn't NATO and Canada put pressure on the Taliban, and if needs be go in to get Al-Qaeda, but where is the need to topple a government and fight a war for over 7 years? (2011)


Pressure on the Taliban?

The U.S had been putting pressure on the Taliban since the 90's, which finally culminated in the 1998 Airstrike ordered by President Clinton. In fact, after the 1993 bombing of the world trade center, the U.S finally recognized Afghanistan as an area of interest.

Here is the problem though, you can’t negotiate with a regime that has no obligations or is not part of the world system one way or the other. The Taliban were not recognized by the UN or any other western country, however, they controlled most of the domestic affairs in large swaths of the country.

So what can you do with an international pariah that actually ADMITS to supporting attacks on your interests (unlike Iran) but cannot be affected by tools other then force at your disposal (ie. sanctions, isolation etc..)?..unlike Iran again

The Taliban had nothing to lose, which is why they expected to be overthrown after 9/11 and publicly supported the attacks in the media afterwards.

Again, if regime change is not a valid option, then what do you do? Massive air strikes which cripples the ability of the Taliban to govern, but which creates instability again and the cycle repeats.

This is related to another fundamental problem facing the world. There are failed states out there that breed instability and usually cause surrounding areas to be sucked in to a vacuum (One only has to look to Somalia).

Anonymous said...

Anon:

"The U.S had been putting pressure on the Taliban since the 90's, which finally culminated in the 1998 Airstrike ordered by President Clinton."

The Taliban weren't in power in Afghanistan until 1996. The Taliban is not registered by the US as a terrorist organization. The bombing strike was not on the Taliban but terrorist training camps.

"So what can you do with an international pariah that actually ADMITS to supporting attacks on your interests (unlike Iran) but cannot be affected by tools other then force at your disposal (ie. sanctions, isolation etc..)?..unlike Iran again" First there are other tools, as stated above no pressure was exerted in the first place.

Second, force could be necessary, so go in and take out those people who planned the attacks, but then again look at the failure of NATO to search for Osama Bin Laden, A REAL THREAT. A war is not justified to take out those merely who harboured people in that country, especially when you put a higher priority on fighting those people then the ones who actually committed the attacks.

Third, a large part of Afghanistan doesn't want to have anytype of international relations and there in lies the problem. The tribal areas don't like government, they like staying to themselves, so they themselves can't be held responsible for what their imposed government did. Neither can the 30,000 civilians killed by NATO.

If the Taliban was so unstable and was so oppressive, why didn't the peopleupturn the fragile government? Maybe because it wasn't so fragile.

There are ways to help. Aid packages that have stipulations that have shown to work as is the case with North Korea. UN troops going in purely after Al-Qaeda, asking for help from other countries in the region to get the Taliban to crack down on Al-Qaeda. All these weren't so much even tried.