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March 02, 2009

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lest we forget, the Taliban itself was willing to turn over bin Laden to an Islamic court for the crimes committed in the name of Islam on 9/11 (and claimed to be willing to turn him over to the US if we provided proof of bin Laden's culpability in 9/11).
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most people don't realize that bin Laden was considered an apostate -- by declaring jihad (and acting on that declaration) without the clerical authority to do so, he was spitting on centuries of perogatives that were enjoyed only by those who had gone through extremely rigorous religious training, and had risen in the clerical ranks. Taliban resistance to Bush's demands that bin Laden be turned over had almost nothing to do with support for bin Laden's actions, and everything to do with the fact that the US does not abide by Islamic laws, and 9/11 represented a crime against Islam that outweighed even the crime against humanity that 9/11 represented.

Those odious Islamist factions in Afghanistan with whom we must make some sort of accommodation probably includes factions currently within the Taliban.

My own guess is that the current Afghans in government would do this anyway -- it seems to be the Afghan way to make expedient power sharing arrangements with almost anyone. It seems to be an aspect of a country organized along local tribal lines.

Sadly, the long term future for Afghanistan seems to a nation dominated by drug warlords, so long as only opium rather than terrorism is the country's export.

So this Swat Valley in Pakistan...does it have a Sultan?

Dis-aggregation now, and disaggregation foh-evuh.

...No, no, this all makes sense. If we had already disaggregated Mullah Omar's head from his shoulders I'd consider it a good time mutually disengage from the Taliban.

...Another disaggregation opportunity occurs to me, the Obama administration could decide to treat to the Somali Islamic Courts faction as if they have nothing to do with a global movement, and emphasize that he had nothing to do with the previous U.S. administration's decision to back an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

Of course the biggest victory over the long run would be if political Islam could disaggregate its approach to the "other". It's most violent adherents "aggregate" as many catgories of people they dislike (from "the west" to "apostate regimes") into a whole, and decide to hold each accountable for the sins of the other. Would be nice if that changed, eh?

Man I am experiencing some pretty radical cognitive disaggregation right about now. Where is the evidence that any such thing was successful in Iraq? And what's the difference between disaggregation and arming the Taliban & Bin Laden against the Soviets in the early 80's, and how that ended up for us?

Here is a shocker for we Americans: everybody in the world doesn't value the same things we value.

Bends your mind, doesn't it?

I'm guessing there is some middle ground available between "approve of every aspect of other societies" and "go to war".

We won the war in Iraq

I have no idea what Petraeus means when he says that.

The short version: it is vital that we differentiate between al-Qaeda type groups and other Islamist groups that do not subscribe to theories of global jihad (and that we learn to live with the latter).

There is an alternate short version: religion is a cancer; it has more and less dangerous varieties; some of them can be managed while some of them must be excised; but none of them can be safely left untreated.

If "leave us alone to keep our own women subjugated and our own children ignorant" were the only price demanded by 'the Taliban' for their rejection of 'al Qaida', it might be a good short-term bargain. I worry that's not the entire price.

If the Swat Valley were as disinterested in contact with the outside world as the Valley of the Blue Moon in Lost Horizon was; if the Taliban were as isolationist as the lamas of Shangri-La; if their brand of Sharia were an encapsulated tumor, in other words; then benign neglect might be just the right prescription. If.

Contrast the Amish with the Taliban. Both wish to live by the tenets of their faith, in their own enclaves. But I never heard the Amish demand that other people, far way must submit to their religious prohibitions, as Pakistani Muslims did in the Danish cartoons case. The Amish shun the outer world; they do not move to NYC and demand respect for their ways when they get there. They do not look through Danish newspapers to find insults to their prophet. Can the same be said of devout Muslims who live in the Swat valley?

'The Taliban' may have purely local interests, but they ground their claims to earthly power in a universal religion. They do not consider the god of Abraham to be a local deity any more than Jews or Christians do. (So I hear; I've never met any Muslim fundamentalists, and only a few Christian and Jewish ones.) How long before they decide that the Swat Valley is too small a dominion for so universal a god?

What's 'vital' is getting rid of the cancer eventually. Confining the tumor to an isolated spot is a stopgap measure. Let's not lose sight of that.

--TP

it seems to be the Afghan way to make expedient power sharing arrangements with almost anyone.

Actually, it seems to be also the American way. After all, both ACLU and NRA coexist in the USA, both wielding considerable political power. :-)

How long before they decide that the Swat Valley is too small a dominion for so universal a god?

It doesn't matter. If we believe in what we are, we can be confident that the Western values will have a much greater allure for the people outside the Pakistani tribal areas. In fact, it's even better to have a few hillbillies in isolated valleys to try out Islamic governance. This way, the Pakistani people can see that Islamism does not work in practice. After a decade or two, they find some new form of radicalism to channel their social malcontent to.

If we believe in what we are, we can be confident that the Western values will have a much greater allure for the people outside the Pakistani tribal areas.

Why does the 'allure of Western values' come into it? Are we trying to turn south Asia into Europe, or the United States?

Is it impossible for the people who live in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else to develop indigenous social and political traditions that are responsive, transparent, and just?

Where is the evidence that any such thing was successful in Iraq?

If you compare the levels of violence in and around Anbar province before and after the Awakenings outreach - and throughout the country for that matter - the differences are stark.

If you compare the level of Sunni participation in elections before and after that strategy, the differences are also stark.

Why does the 'allure of Western values' come into it? Are we trying to turn south Asia into Europe, or the United States?

Is it impossible for the people who live in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else to develop indigenous social and political traditions that are responsive, transparent, and just?

The historical record would suggest that yes, it is impossible. The people of those countries could benefit from adopting some Western values.

Insomuch as respect for human rights - which most definitely includes womens' rights - is considered a "Western value", then I doubt there could be justice without some adoption of same.

russel: Is it impossible for the people who live in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else to develop indigenous social and political traditions that are responsive, transparent, and just?

So long as the US and other major powers lend their support to local forces determined to crush any indigenous social and political movements that wish to develop traditions that are responsive, transparent, and just, yes: it is impossible.

For Afghanistan, remember: The US in 1978/1979 opted to support the Taliban and other extremist Islamists, because the nascent social and political movements towards equal rights for all identified as Communist. And the only organized opposition to the Afghan Communists, who believed in educating women and doing away with fathers trading daughters for marriage, and equal sharing of land to peasant farmers, was the Islamists. So, the US weighed in with all their might against these Communist values... and many women who believed with all their heart that they had a right to be educated got killed by US-funded, US-trained terrorists.

So, yes, Russell: unless the superpowers of the world are willing to put human rights before all other political values, it is impossible for the grassroots in these countries to support human rights without soon finding themselves outgunned.

Insomuch as respect for human rights - which most definitely includes womens' rights - is considered a "Western value", then I doubt there could be justice without some adoption of same.

I hear what you're saying. What I want to say in response is that the west's claim to the moral high ground is kind of thin ice.

Pretty much all human cultures, religions, traditions, what have you, have elements of social justice and equality. Islam, for one example, is no exception.

What do we want in south Asia? What's the goal there?

Or, a better question would be: what would a good outcome in south Asia look like? We don't actually live there, perhaps what we want is not the highest priority.

My personal thought here is that we would do better to recognize and encourage traditions and movements that value social justice which are also rooted in the indigenous culture and traditions of south Asia, rather than try to impart western values to them.

They aren't western people.

And we have our own mixed history in the areas of human rights and social justice.

"For Afghanistan, remember: The US in 1978/1979 opted to support the Taliban"

This is just wrong (and we've been 'round this before, too). The Taliban didn't exist until approximately 1994. I don't even feel the need to give a link to support this, since any site you check on the Taliban will confirm this.

"Islamists" =/ "Taliban."

Russell:

Obviously I don't disagree, since I've been writing for some time that we have to strike a deal with Taliban elements - and other non-jihadist Islamists.

And, of course, I harbor no illusions about Western lapses in terms of human rights.

That's why I said to the extent human rights is considered a Western value, then yes, justice requires some adoption thereof.

But I'm less interested in cheerleading for Western values per se, than I am in seeing human rights secured via any plausible delivery system (though not imposed by us from the outside). If indigenous, all the better as it obviates the outside-interference problems.

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