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Ottawa Citizen: The Afghan War was not a Debacle. Full stop.

Excerpts from a fascinating Ottawa Citizen piece which paints a picture of Afghanistan today that we won’t get from The New York Times nor (I imagine) the BBC. 

The Afghan war was not a debacle. Full stop.

By Terry Glavin, Ottawa Citizen December 6, 2013

 

The 2013 school year in Afghanistan started with more than eight million children enrolled in classes, including 2.6 million girls. During the Taliban time, fewer than a million children were in school, almost none of them girls.

The 2013 school year in Afghanistan started with more than eight million children enrolled in classes, including 2.6 million girls. During the Taliban time, fewer than a million children were in school, almost none of them girls.
Photograph by: FARSHAD USYAN , AFP/Getty Images

The very instant that the good guys won, gunfire erupted in a deafening roar of all over Kabul in a staccato chorus of handguns, rifles and AK47s being emptied into the heavens. Tens of thousands of joyous people thronged the streets. It was this past Sept. 11, a Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of 9/11. The Afghan National Soccer team, in Kathmandu, had just clinched the South Asia cup in a 2-1 victory over India. The celebration isn’t quite over even now.

Neither the Sept. 11 win nor the delirious outpourings that followed were wholly unexpected. Even though its players had been plucked only in July from the country’s just-established premier league, the Afghan team was blessed with outstanding and determined talent. On Aug. 20 in Kabul, in its first encounter with Pakistan on a soccer field in 37 years, Afghanistan triumphed 3-0. More than 12 million of Afghanistan’s 32 million people watched the match on television that day. The country went a little bit crazy.

. . .

The sweet ironies involved are not lost on the Afghan people.

During the Taliban time, kite-flying was banned, musical instruments were forbidden and even card games were outlawed. Soccer was occasionally tolerated, but only in order to bookend the main-attraction stadium halftime show of executions and handchopping mutilations. Those days were so, so over.

There are deeper ironies.

Afghanistan is supposed to be an incorrigibly backward Central Asian backwater and burial ground for the armies of empires. And yet you can draw a line from the Syrian seaport of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast all the way to India’s Kashmiri frontier, only a stone’s throw from the headwaters of the Ganges, and Kabul is easily the happiest place along the way.

There are sorrowful ironies.

Damascus is now merely the Baathist stronghold in a failed-state open air mortuary consisting of scattered warlord principalities and heavily-armed al-Qaida emirates. More than six million Syrians are homeless, at least 120,000 are dead, and all that remains of Syria is a failed-state testament to the catastrophe of Barack Obama’s doctrine of abstention and capitulation. Baghdad, meanwhile, is a nightmare terrain of tit-for-tat suicide-bomb campaigns waged by vampire cults embedded on both sides of the Iraqi divide in the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.

. . .

Then there are ironies of the funhouse-mirror kind.

. . .

A couple of doozies that have already become quite faddish warrant some attention.

One is the claim that by some organic and perennially obscene aspect of the civilian-military relationship, Canadians were more or less tricked into sending soldiers to Afghanistan by the Canadian Forces’ brass. Another is a kind of theorem to the effect that Afghanistan is actually worse than it was back in the day, and this is in no small part the fault of the Canadian Forces — and oh, by the way, “we lost the war.”    [ . . . ]

 

Further down, the pronouncements of various pundits come in for a bit of demolition.

It’s encouraging to know that not everybody thinks that everybody in the Coalition is a cohort of the Forces of Darkness.  At least, Canada isn’t.

30 Comments

  1. NickM says:

    I can’t agree Julie. Things are better whilst NATO et al are there but we leave next year. Then we’ll see if we have effected a last civilization of the ‘stan. I suspect not. Even now their parliament was talking recently about re-introducing public stoning for adulterers under the full Sharia code. The best I think we can hope for is an extremely conservative dirt-poor Islamic State. A Saudia Arabia without oil. We have not through military intervention created a modern Germany or Japan.

    Just one example from the article:

    !And yet you can draw a line from the Syrian seaport of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast all the way to India’s Kashmiri frontier, only a stone’s throw from the headwaters of the Ganges, and Kabul is easily the happiest place along the way.”

    An arbitrary line and also Kabul might be the Disneyland of that line but what of the backwoods?

  2. Longrider says:

    Likewise, Nick. It isn’t our fight and we should never have been there in the first place. What improvements there are now will prove transient once the Taliban regain power.

  3. I agree that the standard “anti war movement” stuff is nonsense – that the enemy are the good guys, or that the war is being fought for “corporate profits”. The “anti-war movement” stuff is B.S. – it really is.

    But that does not mean the wars are good ideas.

    For example, how are these gains to be maintained?

    The Khazi is hopelessly corrupt (like his brother) – and the last elections were openly rigged (the Obama Administration did not care).

    Even if the Taliban do not take power “pro government” Islamists will.

    Such things as the rights of women could only be maintained if Islam was defeated – replaced with a different belief system.

    And neither Bush or Obama ever understood that.

  4. Julie near Chicago says:

    Bush said (I think he was referring to Iraq) that it would take a very long time before [parapharase] we would be able to leave, and I would think the same would have been true for Afghanistan.

    Obama, in my opinion, couldn’t care less one way or the other. He just wants the cachet of being The Leader of the Free World while reducing said world to the status of third-world countries.

    The Iraqis did get to vote and were delighted to do so. But de-Islamification would indeed be a protracted business and necessary if there were to be any sort of civil society in the ME–and as I understand it, most of the trouble has come from insurgents from Iran and Al Quaida; not, mostly, from the Iraqis themselves.

    Ditto Afghanistan, as requiring a long stay.

    There is also the Pakistan Problem. I’ll have to hunt up a piece I read lately on that.

    The fact is that the world would be a better place if North Africa right across thru Pakistan could be civilized. By “the world,” I definitely mean it’s to the West’s interest (I include Israel in that).

    But that requires active involvement by the Western countries.

    I still say that in Iraq, to smash-and-run would have accomplished something worthy, namely the removal of a butcher (and if slightly extended, of his psychopathic sons); but that would have just left the way open for the inrush of other gangs (as has in fact happened, and they have to be summarily defeated, and that apparently requires Coalition occupation–maybe for many years). Since then it’s been very up-and-down, partly because of poor management, but with some good spots accompanied of course by yelps of outrage at the successful initiatives and their leaders, and partly because of Western inability to keep focussed on the task–and that’s partly because the people go back-and-forth about it, as do the pols. But if we do here as we did in V-N, the results can’t be expected to be much different. Same thing in Afghanistan.

    It’s always possible for libertarians to say, “None of our affair,” and turn our backs on the screaming of the victims. This turning away is not a breach of justice for libertarians. But it is and should be painful just the same, to men of good will/benevolence/conscience.

    It also pretends there are no effects on the West if these people cannot be made to understand that they’ve chosen to ride a real tiger and not a paper one.

    The problem for libertarians, and also for sensible conservatives, is that while all the foregoing may be true, no one has the right to force others to fight (well, not a problem; there is no conscription and Israel hasn’t been a part of this) nor to finance the fighting if they don’t want to. This is not a problem with a solution. The best one can do is try to persuade others to one’s point of view, which means that any course of action is likely to proceed by fits & starts at best, unless some event really gets the home countries’ people fired up — like 9/11, or even more like Pearl Harbor, and then the leadership has to carpe the diem and not let go.

    He who hates war must be prepared to fight. That’s the long & short of it.

    And the same goes even if the war isn’t a shooting war; say it’s a war to keep your legal order free of Shari’ah. Buttressed by low-level sniping terrorism.

    I hate war. It’s just that it seems to me that if the bad guys are allowed the run of the place, they will make it impossible for the good guys to go about their business with anything like a clean conscience or, sometimes, their lives. Perhaps, in the short run, strict quarantine would be best (from the libertarian point of view). Good luck with that.

    . . .

    And I hate seeing men who’ve made the right call, given their information and understanding at the time, maligned for it. Call them out for subsequent mistakes, by all means, but not for what they’ve done right.

    . . .

    Nick, I do see your point (it’s analogous to the fact that statistical trend lines can be different depending on where you start and stop, and whether the way-off data point is meaningful or not); but the fact is, that to ignore something that’s going right is by that much to defeat attempts to get more to go right. We should be realistic, by all means — ‘”Well, but Kabul is one area between North Africa and Japan,” with a possible swerve around India, when you get right down to it.’ — true. But possibly one could build on the positive instead of giving up to the negative?

    . . .

    I can’t solve this problem. But I think it’s important to note the other side of things as well as the negatives that we all acknowledge. At the very least ALL the facts should be known, not just the ones that support the most negative of views.

  5. Ed P says:

    How much better would their economy be if they didn’t waste millions on head cloths. But let’s hope the mediaeval Taliban do not gain ground – they are no more than ignorant boys who want to subjugate all women as their sex slaves. The education of women is the best way to emasculate these swine.

  6. CountingCats says:

    Longrider,

    As to “we never should have been there”. The Afghan government colluded in an act of war against our ally, the United States. Should we have ignored that?

  7. RAB says:

    Oh come on Cats, we’ve ignored bigger sins than that in our time, and so have our ally the United States when we have been transgressed against.

    The fact is that you can’t gift wrap “Democracy” and give it to people for Christmas, and they go… Wow! Just what we always wanted! Fuckin hell thanks so much!

    If they had REALLY wanted it they would have produced it for themselves. They didn’t and they won’t. Afgans despise Western Democracy and culture, just like the rest of the Islamic world. It is not just a religion, something you do on your Holy day, with new hats and hymns, a quick sermon that nobody listens to, then the lads down the pub and the ladies back to the house to whip up the Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding, like Christianity has decayed into, it is a totalitarian political system.

    And they are bloodily serious about it.

  8. CountingCats says:

    RAB,

    Oh come on Cats, we’ve ignored bigger sins than that in our time, and so have our ally the United States when we have been transgressed against

    When? An unprovoked and coordinated attack on four mainland targets, with 3000+ dead? An open and incontrovertible act of war.

    Besides, you are confusing democracy building with swiping back at a lout who takes a swipe at you.

    You go in, take out those who took out your own people – the government in this case, and then leave. Arguably, we all should have left long ago, but that we shouldn’t have been there in the first place? Nonsense.

    Besides, democracy building can work. Everything you say here also applied to Japan and Germany following the war. Problem is, because it worked in those two cases many people believe the same model should be used everywhere.

  9. RAB says:

    Cats.

    Invading an entire country to take “A swipe” at a single foreign terrorist and his band of franchised cohorts, foreign to the Afgans even if they were harbouring him, is madness. And we fuckin missed him anyway. He ended up dead in Pakistan. Have we invaded Pakistan? No! Why keep up the friggin pretence that we are doing “Good” by being there? They don’t want to buy what we are selling, they never have and they never will. We are wasting our time money and lives.

  10. CountingCats says:

    RAB,

    The government of Afghanistan colluded with al Qaeda. You acknowledge it yourself, they were harbouring bin Laden.

    As to “the friggin pretence that we are doing “Good” by being there”, read what I wrote. Why argue with me over claims I haven’t made?

  11. RAB says:

    “You go in, take out those who took out your own people – the government in this case, and then leave. Arguably, we all should have left long ago, but that we shouldn’t have been there in the first place? Nonsense.”

    Well we did that Cats didn’t we? Except we didn’t… we missed target Number 1. So we took out the “Government” Whoopy Doo! And what replaces the Government? Hamid Karzai (this is getting into surreal Carry on up the Kyber country) and his corrupt heroin trading mates. NOTHING has changed there for all our blood and treasure spilt. Do you honestly believe that all that effort on our part was worth spit?

  12. Julie near Chicago says:

    As to Pakistan, have a look at the next entry hereabouts.

    As for the rest–nothing is accomplished (or at least very little) until the place is more-or-less civilized. In other words, to leave without having done that is to have thrown away what was dearly bought. “Just” Kabul? Maybe, but maybe the Greater Kabul Area is more than just Kabul. (I don’t know; I’m just suggesting the possibility.) So, it’s like hoiking a heavy boulder partway up a mountain and then letting it go and roll all the way down because you haven’t gotten it to the summit yet.

    More-or-less civilized … somebody at Samizdata commented yesterday (I think it was) that indeed the Brits did accomplish something positive in India, despite mistakes (and, I’ll add for the record, despite whatever immoralities the enterprise involved in the first place and subsequently).

    Quite a few people with knowledge of Rhodesia say that the problem with Zimbabwe is that the British left too soon….

  13. CountingCats says:

    RAB,

    Then what is your position? I truly don’t understand.

    Someone kicks us in the teeth so we tip our hat and walk on?

    Your position is “We shouldn’t have done X”, but what non X should we have done? Smiled through the broken teeth and invited a kick to the ribs as well?

    I’m not a christian, turn the other cheek doesn’t appeal. I have already acknowledged that we should have given these thugs a good kicking and then walked on, instead of rebuilding their house, so what else are you asking I acknowledge? Please tell me.

  14. [...] From Politics News Source: http://www.countingcats.com/?p=15655 ____________________________________________________ < The 2013 school year in Afghanistan started with more than eight million children enrolled in classes, including 2.6 million girls. During the Taliban time, fewer than a million children were in school, almost none of them girls. [...]

  15. RAB says:

    I thought I’d made myself perfectly clear, but one more time…

    I’m not a Christian either, worse, I’m a Celt, and we are big on revenge. When we missed Bin Laden and his buddies, then we should have withdrawn from the Stan. It was and is pointless trying to “civilise” the place for the simple reason that it already thinks it is civilised. They’re Muslims and Islam is perfect so what’s to improve on? That’s the way they see it anyway. As you well know Islam is a totallity, a religion and a political system.

    As SAoT spent several posts in proving, Democracy is a process, a means to an end, not the end itself. Karzai was elected…big fuckin deal. Is he any better or thinks any differently than the warlords of before or the Taliban? Hardly. We are wasting our fuckin time and lives.

    And what was the point in invading Iraq? What did it have to do with 9/11? Saddam was a very bad man, but as far as I am concerned he was at the back of a queue of very bad men who needed a whack up side the head. All we have done is completely fucked up Iraq. Bombs go off there so goddam often, nobody bothers to report them anymore.

    So why didn’t we invade Saudi Arabia? Bid Laden was a Saudi, it is the country that is exporting Wahhabism across the globe and funding the most terrorism, surely they are the obvious target? But no, our Pols keep insisting that they are our closest allies, which goes to prove how fucked up they are. So to repeat, until we get real and hit the right targets, we are wasting our time money and lives.

  16. longrider says:

    As to “we never should have been there”. The Afghan government colluded in an act of war against our ally, the United States. Should we have ignored that?

    Yes, we should. Not our conflict – and it is debatable that Afghanistan actually did collude in an act of war against the US. The Taliban provided shelter for a terrorist, which is not the same thing at all.

    I repeat, we had no business being there. it is not up to us to put right the rest of the world – because, frankly, if other countries decided to put our right, how would we like it?

  17. CountingCats says:

    Not our conflict

    So when our allies are attacked we should break the alliance?

    Live up to the title perfidious Albion?

  18. RAB says:

    Jean Kirkpatrick was having drinks at the Argentine Embassy when they invaded the Falklands, and cheered them on. Harold Wilson kept the UK out of Vietnam, unlike Australia who had troops on the ground, and Eisenhower put the boot into Suez by threatening to call in our debt and destroy the UK credit rating.

    Please don’t talk of perfidious Albion Cats, when the USA puts itself First, last, and at all other times.

  19. Julie near Chicago says:

    Eisenhower made a very big mistake with Suez and we are all still living with the consequences. Mr. Wilson made a very big mistake with V-N, but ours was worse: That we won the war but failed to claim the victory, betraying the South Vietnamese and our troops who had fought and died, and our own taxpayers, who were too ill-informed or else downright stupid to insist on seeing that what had been won STAYED won. But all of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to Australia and New Zealand, who understood the importance of keeping the Communist infestation at least somewhat in check, for everybody’s sake, but especially their own–which is as it should be.

    The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is playing out the same way.

    . . .

    Dear RAB, you know I love you like a brother (or at least like on online pal), but your closing sentence is unforgivable and you know better.

    And “the USA” is more than just its malodorous government.

  20. longrider says:

    So when our allies are attacked we should break the alliance?

    If necessary, yes. Not our fight, we should not get involved. Better still, don’t enter into alliances other than on a case by case basis. We might have avoided the killing fields of Flanders had we adopted that sensible stance.

    As RAB points out, the USA are hardly allies anyway – or, they are when it suits them. Harold Wilson was right to keep out of Vietnam (again, not our fight) and the USA were hardly our allies when the Falklands were attacked – which most certainly was an act of war.

    Julie, RAB’s comment is correct – however, it is correct when applied to the government. Yes, we know that the people are not the government – same with us – and like many Brits, I’m sick of our government committing our troops to various warring shit-holes around the world and getting them killed for no good reason. Their purpose is the defence of the UK, it is not to put the rest of the world to rights..

  21. RAB says:

    Julie, Iove you like a sister too. Many of my friends are American, I have been there many times and two of my oldest Brit friends, The gay Buddhist and the Luddite Hippie of La Honda, have chosen to make it their home for the last 40 years. But it must be said, as Longrider has just reiterated, the American Govt has never really been Britain’s unequivocal friend.

    I could cite the 1812 war, where Britain pretty much single-handedly was fighting to rid Europe of a Pan European French dictatorship, did we get any help from America? No, instead they carped about restraint of trade and thought it a good time… seeing as we were a bit busy with Boney… to Annexe Canada.

    Then there was turning up a tad late for Two World Wars and only then when their hand was forced. Were they shoulder to shoulder with us from the off? No. Then there was Lend/Lease before 1941, America making a nice little earner out of our troubles. Was it written off in the spirit of brotherly love between staunch allies in the mutual fight against a massive evil tyranny? Are you fuckin kiddin? Business is business! The UK only finished paying off that debt a few years ago.

    The Special Relationship is only special when it suits the USA Govt, but the people and the country are very special to me.

  22. CountingCats says:

    Jean Kirkpatrick was most certainly a supporter of Argentinian interests, against Britain, at the time, but that Ronnie Reagan wasn’t trumped her.

    The US, while not active in the fighting, nonetheless acted in Britains interests and provided support.

    The US had interests in both sides in this conflict, not just in Argentina, but in South America in general. Under the circumstances its behaviour was acceptable.

  23. Julie near Chicago says:

    Yes, RAB, brother & sister for sure. But if we are going only by who did what to whom when, and ignoring all context, America came about onaccounta British mistreatment of the Colonies, in trying to deny them the Rights of Englishmen, which the Colonists legally were.

    I thought that in the War of 1812, it was the British who burnt down our Capitol. Musta headed across the Pond instead of toward Calais, if they were after Nappie.

    Come 1860, I do believe the British entertained the idea of entering the Civil war (whether with actual fighting or just advisory and/or financial support, I don’t know) on the side of the Confederacy. Admittedly this is a mixed bag, but it really was at least one of the Union soldiers’ war aims to free the slaves. Don’t you folks pride yourselves on having earlier ended your slave trade, and even slavery itself?

    In both the World Wars, there was a strong isolationist contingent here. In fact it seems that some majority of U.S. libertarians, at least, think that Wilson was wildly out of line in sending American boys into WW I at all. Personally, I grew up at a time when we were still encouraged to be proud of our WW I service. Sorry we didn’t come in according to your schedule, though. :>( Anyway, for those of you who are arguing that you shouldn’t have fought in V-N (Wilson) nor Iraq/Afghanistan because “it wasn’t [our] fight,” plenty of Americans said and still say the same thing about WW I. Were they right?

    There’s less libertarian-isolationist sentiment here vis-á-vis WW II, but most Americans who can find London on the map still know (not think, KNOW) that it was absolutely in our strategic, geopolitical interest to fight along with you. And that, as I indicated above in re Oz and NZ in V-N, is just as it should be.

    As far as I am concerned, and plenty of other Americans agree with me, the only thing FDR did in his entire Presidency that was decent was helping Britain even before we formally began hostilities, and then entering the fighting ourselves, and then of course formally entering with the Allies. (I do wish FDR could have found it in his heart to do both without breaking the Constitution, though.)

    Now, I’ll see your disapproval of America in the matter of Suez and raise you American disapproval of you in the matter of V-N–and I am convinced that both of us are right. Our failure in the Suez business led to Nasser and a much stronger Communist presence in Egypt and the ME generally than might have been the case, and this was adverse to the interests of the entire free world. Not to mention Nasser’s direct effect on the Egyptians themselves. And your failure to sign on with us in re V-N, whether it had any military effect or not, constituted somewhat of a propaganda win for the Communists–and also made their military task easier, even though they did in the end lose militarily.

    So how come the Mother Country is OK with not fighting, no matter how obviously dangerous (not to say detestable) the enemy unless she feels it’s directly in her geopolitical interest, but it’s not OK for America to use the same standard? (Which only applies to your criticism of our entry into the two WW’s as being solely due to its being in our interest)?

    To wrap this up: Never mind this döppelganger (doppelgänger?? — oh heck, GOLEM!) currently squatting in the White House. Whatever the Sith is about, it would be in everyone’s interest to have a pacified ME, and that includes Britain (and the rest of Our Crowd–i.e. the rest of the Anglosphere) just as much as America.

    I think I will post something from Brigitte Gabriel about this.

    Pace, all. (Especially RAB. ;) )

  24. Julie near Chicago says:

    Sigh…always something. 1861, not 1860. Start of the Civil War.

  25. CountingCats says:

    Julie,

    Spot on, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  26. longrider says:

    plenty of Americans said and still say the same thing about WW I. Were they right?

    Yes… And no. Ultimately, the USA was goaded into war by Germany, so had no option but to get involved as they were directly affected by a foreign power. Up to that point, no. And, frankly, we should have kept out of it as well.

    Vietnam and Afghanistan most certainly were not our fights and we should have stayed well away from the latter. It is not up to us to stem the tide of communism in a foreign land – just as it is not up to us to stem the tide of Islam in a foreign land. If they try it on here, then it becomes our fight. Until then, it ain’t and we shouldn’t be shedding the blood of our troops doing it.

    Yes, I take your point about the nature of the enemy. If they attack us, then fine, take whatever steps may be necessary against those who carry out the attack – the eventual assassination of Bin Laden was an example of appropriate response, not a full scale drawn out war and a war that in the case of the UK should never have involved us.

  27. Suez is not quite as presented.

    Neither Ike or John Foster Dulles were as anti the operation as is often said. Indeed John Foster Dulles said to Eden (years later) “why did you not go on?” (which thunderstruck Eden – who had been told that the United States was fanatically opposed).

    What does seem to have been the case is that officials (both in the United States and Britain) opposed the operation – and manipulated their political masters (distorting what they said – exaggerating opposition and so on). The was mad less difficult by Ike being preoccupied with the re election campaign and with the Soviet invasion of Hungary – and by John Foster Dulles (the Sec of State) being ill at the key time.

    However, one politician should be noted with the betrayal of the operation that led to the collapse of Western (not just British) influence in the Middle East (leading the coup in Iraq in 1958).

    Mr “first in, first out” Harold M.

    “Supermac” had been in the strongest voice in favour of the operation against Nasser in 1856 – then (suddenly) it was “the sky is falling – we must give up”.

    “But the Americans would not support the exchange rate” – so what? Let the exchange rate of the Pound to the Dollar float (as Rab Butler had suggested before 1956).

    Who benefits? Is a good guide to who is behind something.

    And Supermac became Prime Minister by undermining Eden at the key time. Of course this did hand the Middle East to anti Western forces and make Britain a laughing stock all round the world. But so what – as long as Harold M. became Prime Minister.

  28. As for “deislamification”.

    Making someone secular does not work – Islam just grows back (sometimes suddenly – as General Gordon found in the Sudan, on his first visit Islam was nominal, then it suddenly became real – Islam is like a unexploded bomb).

    Turkey, Egypt. Iran – all the secular experiments failed.

    Islam can only be defeated by something else (not by a empty space – such as secularism).

    Malta once had a Muslim Arab population – and they were not driven out.

    They just became something else.

    That is the key.

    There must be another BELIEF SYSTEM.

    If an atheist one such as Randian Objectivism will do – fair enough.

    If not then Christianity is going to have to shrug off this “Social Gospel” stuff and remember how to be warriors for Christ.

    Real warriors.

  29. Julie near Chicago says:

    Paul,

    Thanks for the corrections on Suez. I can remember being a schoolgirl at that time (just turned 13) and being quite nervous about the whole thing.

    I’m positive you’re right that it’s the Christians who will overcome the evil of Islam, if anyone does. But I don’t see that only missionary work (learning the ways and expectations of a completely different God, yet one they can trust and around whom they can build a new image of themselves, a new identity in fact) abroad will do the job alone. There needs to be a reasonable degree of safety wherever the missionaries are (geographically), and there also needs to be a history of probably at least three generations of civil society and decent government before these sink into people’s psyches as being “the way we do things.” Preferably more. I am thinking of the British in India….

    And these people need to see that they cannot win.

    As I understand it, the Muslims in most of Russia and Eastern Europe did become acculturated, and helpful to the Jews and Christians who were in danger there. Robert Spencer says it’s because they chose different parts of Muslim doctrine as their basis for what they should do. I have read that Chechnyan nationalism was an ongoing and rancorous issue between the Russians (or Soviets) and the Chechens for a long time, but the reason it exploded was that the “radical Islamists” saw the political fight as an opportunity for them to radicalize the Chechen Muslims.

  30. which led in 1979 to a bloody war between the US-backed mujahideen forces and the Soviet-backed Afghan government in which over a million Afghans lost their lives.

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