The Bible tells us that the fool says in his heart that there is no God, but there are other fools among us, and their mantra is this:
“We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
A popular bumper-sticker and battle cry heard on television and movie screens across the land, it requires an almost total lack of knowledge of American history for anyone to listen to and not break out with cries of hysterical laughter.
Wars are won not only through courage on the battlefield, but by the brilliance of diplomats, and we don’t honor them enough in our lives. History books (well, maybe not the ones you can buy at a gun show) are full of the stories of negotiated peace treaties.
But the Taliban gives us pause for thought.
Soon America’s longest war will come to an end, and the fate of Afghanistan will well and truly be in the hands of its own people. As American troops withdraw, the debate will be intense in this country, with much Monday morning quarter-backing.
Isn’t it interesting that Afghanistan rates such little mention in the presidential race? Indeed, very few of the stalwarts running for Congress seem terribly interested in the subject.
After the election it will be an entirely different story.
When we first went intro Afghanistan so many years ago, there several narratives which held the attention of the media, no matter what their political persuasion might be:
One - How well President dressed in public, with particular attention given to his Karakul hats.
His hats. Oh, and his flowing cape.
Then again, this is the same media that every time a major event happens in Russia, can be distracted by Vladimir Putin flexing his pectorals.
Two - while not quite nation-building, one of our more laudable goals was to help the women of Afghanistan, whose brutal treatment at the hands of the Taliban - often recorded on video - shamed the world.
“Not on our watch!” came the cliched cry as we descended upon that country, determined to put right the horrors and humiliation women faced in that country. In fact, while the two top presidential candidates in this country trade jabs about the “War on Women” (and there is one, Zealous Reader) in this country, the war on women in Afghanistan gets little, if any, mention at all.
With 2014 approaching rapidly, the Taliban are making their plans for retaking the country that was so grateful when they were ousted in the first place. And like all bullies they have long memories.
They have already succeeded in forcing the closure of more than 500 schools which taught girls in eastern Afghanistan, and several hundred young girls had to be admitted to the hospital, after drinking water from wells that had been poisoned.
In one school, boys and girls were forced to watch as a teacher and headmaster were executed, because they refused to obey the Taliban’s demands that girls not receive an education.
Of course, the Taliban has denied responsibility for these murders.
The American people are in no mood for our troops to stay any longer in a country where at any moment a soldier you thought was an ally might suddenly turn his weapon on our soldiers. We lost patience with this war a long time ago. More and more, it begins to resemble Vietnam, when America propped up a failing and corrupt government.
The man American media lavished so much attention on for his wardrobe has backed the Ulema Council’s repressive "code of conduct" for women.
But what do we do?
There are reports of forced suicides, and “honor killings.”
In Kabul, this past July, a young woman was publicly executed for alleged adultery, an act which inspired dozens of Afghan women's rights activists to protest in the streets.
The truth is that life has improved for many women since the Taliban was removed, but what progress has been made can disappear virtually overnight.
Almost alone in this administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has gone on record as opposing any peace agreement that does not safeguard the safety of women.
But her views are an inconvenience, it might seem.
I want American troops brought home. I think that ten-plus years is time enough to build and train a fighting force.
But the thought of the women and children of Afghanistan left to the tender mercies of the Taliban, the Christian Reconstructionists of the Middle East, make me sick at heart.
The members of the conservative movement who say that we should not be leaving Afghanistan, that we are pulling too early, never have a word to say about the plight of the women in that country.
I’m sure that many crocodile tears will be shed after 2014, though.
Quote of the Day
Many a man has decided to stay alive not because of the will to live but because of the determination not to give assorted surviving bastards the satisfaction of his death. - Brendan Francis