Most Afghans cheered the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and they appreciate the ways U.S. assistance has improved their lives since then: reopening schools, building roads and bridges, bringing electricity to remote villages. Yet they increasingly resent the unending war, especially its rising toll in civilian lives—and they don't hesitate to blame America and its multinational allies. Anti-U.S. rallies in the towns of Shindand and Jalalabad each drew more than a thousand protesters last week, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai once again declared that his government can no longer tolerate the deaths of so many innocent Afghans. "We are very sorry when the [U.S.-led] international Coalition Force and NATO soldiers lose their lives or are injured," he told a press conference. "It pains us. But Afghan [civilians] are human beings, too."
Hamid Karzai is that stylishly dressed guy we chose to make into the "democratically" elected President of Afghanistan (I originally typed "leader" but corrected myself). Karzai knows how to do Central Asian Muslim chic. Which is cool in some circles. But darn it, he rules over (sort of anyway) a bunch of consanguineously marrying, very high fertility, low IQ, Muslim fundamentalist tribes. Not exactly material to emulate an East Asian tiger success story.
Most of the Aghanis who are dying are getting killed by the Taliban. But they are going to hate us more the longer the war continues.
More than 900 of them died in 2006 alone. Roughly three quarters of that number died in Taliban attacks, nearly half of which "appear to have been intentionally launched" against civilian targets, according to a newly released report from Human Rights Watch. Even in attacks on legitimate military targets, the report found "little evidence to suggest that insurgent forces were in any way seeking to minimize [civilian] losses." Instead, the report said, the objective seemed to be "not merely to harm specific individuals but to generate broader fear among the civilian population." Roughly 230 civilians died in U.S. and Coalition attacks last year, but the report found no evidence that any of those killings were deliberate.
The outsiders who aren't part of local tribes (that would be soldiers from the US, Canada, and some European countres) are held to a higher standard.
Afghans expect the worst from the Taliban, but they hold America to a far higher standard. "The Taliban never claimed to support human rights," says Abdul Sattar Khowasi, a member of Parliament from Kapisa province, about 70 miles northeast of Kabul. "The U.S. came here in the name of human rights." Besides, people are increasingly afraid to criticize Mullah Mohammed Omar's Taliban forces in public.
An incident involving an attack on US Marines where the Marines killed a lot of civilians has made the Afghans especially sensitive. Those Marines were supposed to be the Marine version of some sort of special forces unit. The Marines got yanked out of Afghanistan due to that incident.
We don't want Afghanistan to become an Al Qaeda training base again. But hanging around will just make the locals hate us. Still, if we leave the central government (meaning: the government that rules Kabul) might fall and the Taliban might shoot its way back into power. What to do? Suggestions anyone?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 May 06 09:16 PM MidEast Afghanistan|