Dueling Twins

Afghanistan

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The 'Dueling Twins'

When they come downstairs from their Ivory Towers, idealists are very apt to walk straight into the gutter.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Point:

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Building a Postwar Afghanistan
 
James Hall, From the Left

Yet another example of the difference in the post-September 11 world---George W. Bush has been transformed from a candidate who said that America spent too much time sending military missions abroad to a president who's declared a war on terrorism and seems prepared to send our military to any number of places where terrorists raise their ugly heads.  Now, Mr. President, it's time to admit that you were wrong about nation-building, too.  We'll need to do something to build a stable Afghanistan, or suffer through the sequel, "Return of the Taliban."

When the president talks about "draining the swamp" in which terrorism hides, he's gone beyond swatting mosquitos to the understanding that the national governments that support or sponsor terrorism must be replaced by friendly regimes, or the biters return in short order.  History is replete with examples of repeat engagements--including post World War I Germany, Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s, and today's Iraq, all once-and-future homes to terror and war.

We know the results of benign neglect/indifference abroad, and we needn't go any further than Afghanistan itself to see them. Recall the US withdrawal from Afghanistan after the mujahadeen victory over the Soviets in 1991.  We left the nation with little more than a large group of rival factions and lots of captured and donated arms.  The result was incessant warfare that the Taliban finally put an end to in 1996.

We then let the Taliban alone, despite their extremism and their support of Al Qaeda.  They furnished a magnificent training ground for terrorism, a great place for Usama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership to hide from the world's scrutiny and its justice.  Had we stayed in Afghanistan long enough to ensure a stable, democratic government in the 90s, had we provided some of the millions and billions we've spent in bombs there to build roads and schools and infrastructure, it's very unlikely that we'd be in the mess we're in now.

Nation-building, a term for providing the support a struggling nation needs to develop democratic institutions and a viable economy, is a successful practice well-supported by history.  The success of post-World War II Germany and Japan and the rebirth of Western Europe under the Marshall Plan are great examples of its success.  If not for the nation-building done after World War II, the US might well have lost Europe and perhaps the Cold War itself under the onslaught of Communism.  Building a strong Europe and Japan benefited us as well as our allies.

Even less successful examples, like that of Haiti, are useful in their own way.  Though we didn't spend nearly as much time and effort in Haiti as we did in postwar Europe, US intervention did put a stop to the worst political abuses there and also halted the boat invasion of the US by Haitian refugees that had threatened to become a second Mariel boatlift.  We've also stabilized the situation in Bosnia and Kosovo for now and have given each area a chance to form peaceful, democratic institutions.

We really have no choice but to do the same in Afghanistan.  The Taliban are down but not out, and it's possible for them to make a comeback unless a government by more moderate democratic elements is allowed to flourish in its place.  When the US left in 1991 we could not envision a situation where Afghanistan could hurt us, but the concept of world-wide terrorist networks makes even small and isolated nations like Afghanistan and Somalia dangerous to us these days.

We can and should be active in attacking avowed enemies like the Taliban, Islamic Jihad, and Iraq, but we also need to be proactive in drying out the swamps where terrorism flourishes.  We must root out of the nations who provide terrorists sanctuary, give places to train and laboratories to develop weapons of terror and mass destruction.  Building friendly, democratic nations is the best way to accomplish this goal, creating a peaceful, better world as a nice side effect, too.  It's a price well-worth paying.

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Rebuttal:

Would the people of Afghanistan want the sort of things that go along with nation-building?  That's what they're saying to anyone who will listen.  After twenty years of war, they want peace, they want a representative government, they want to rebuild, and the US is in a position to help them achieve all these things.  Moreover, it's not "meddling," but our responsibility.  We chose to intervene when the Soviets did in the 1970s, as part of the Great Game being played then.  Now it's our responsibility to correct the wrongs we had a hand in creating.

Frankly, I''m confused at Sartre's charge that free elections impose some kind of global will.  What's wrong with the people of Afghanistan choosing who leads them, instead of the man with the most guns?  The reality is that the people of Afghanistan should get a chance to choose their own kind of government.  If that's meddling, it's the kind of meddling we did in the Mexican War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, etc., etc.  The kind of war we waged for ourselves against the British in 1776.

Sartre accuses me of supporting the Patriot Act?  As one who's written against that dilution of constitutional rights, as well as President Bush's executive order creating tribunals, I resent being painted as a supporter of that legislation, and point to my written word as proof.  The Patriot Act has nothing to do with rebuilding Afghanistan, anyway.  The real point is that we're partly responsible for twenty years of war there, and it's only right that we do something to help restore peace and prosperity to the people we used first to fight communism and now terrorism for us.

We can't just walk away and say, "sorry, we shouldn't have bothered you and won't bother you anymore," as Sartre would have us do.  Basic fairness and a sense of responsibility for our own actions demand that we help right a wrong; self-interest in creating a friend in Afghanistan instead of a future foe demands the same action.  9/11 taught us that a return to the ostrich foreign policy that Sartre favors is not only futile, but dangerous to us as a nation.

James Hall, From the Left

Counterpoint:

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Building on Sand

Just get the concept: "Building friendly, democratic nations . . . creating a peaceful, better world." These are the ingredients that produce that portrait of the 'Ugly American'. Senseless notions like this, are the legacy of Woodrow Wilson. Mindset like this is the root cause for American hatred. Meddling as a way of life, is the definitive mission of bleeding hearts. Attempts to place equivalency between Western Europe and Afghanistan demonstrates the allusions of deception that feed the thinking of Liberals. The Marshall Plan was desired by the refugees of a savaged continent. Now we are supposed to believe that the inhabitants of this vast wasteland want the kind of aid, with accompanying strings, that would come alongside 'nation building'?

PLEASE! Get Real . . .  The end goal for all globalists is the imposition of their will over all other societies. Peace to the 'democrat' means forcing elections upon all cultures. Equal weight and gender neutrality, in voting is paradise for the bureaucratic brain. A 'better world' is defined by elimination of every opponent, and anyone who resists such enlightened 'do gooders'. Votes can always be bought.

Just maybe the Taliban is trying to save you from your excesses? So your bombs work better than their defenses. Bravo for your technology of death. Now you claim your political system must also be best for the entire rest of the world. Then you claim we have no other choice, but to interject the Big Mac culture into a pork lean neighborhood. Are you just incapable of learning or is the scarcity of judgment a natural trait?

We always have the choice to get it right. As long as internationalists are determined to impose peace, you will have continuous war. War is the best friend of the globalist. It requires that continuous world wide enforcement be established. How is this any different from the normal condition of local conflicts? World Peace as the ultimate goal is a denial of human nature.

Afghanistan has existed as a barren land for thousands of years. The circumstance is primitive by choice, while the environment is inhospitable by nature. You claim that it is in our interest to alter both. The affliction that those mosquitoes spread, has already infected a fatal disease. But that pest is born and bred on the block of your New World Disorder.

If you are so committed to eliminate terrorism, why are you so eager to refine your own version? That is exactly the end result, when the people you want to free with your proactive cure, hates the medicine. Creating the next generation of puppet regimes, only directs more animosity back upon America. What will be your remedy for the subsequent round of resentment, more and stronger medicine?

Benign neglect is self determination, no wonder you hate it so. Yes I know, you reserve democratic decisions for your policies only. Indifference is not the same as respectful engagement. Your need to smear real American self interest, as a withdrawal from the world. This is always a pivotal error. HOW you help people is even more important as to What kind of aid you provide. Your view fails by both measures. If you asked the typical inhabitant of this region, what he wants; he would exclaim: "All Foreigners Go Home" ! Tribal communities are stronger than ideas of national identity in much of the Third World. But your prescription is the white knight riding to the rescue. For your citations of success for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, we await your next claim: "Peace in Our Time" ?

How long will it be before you advocate the Patriotic Act be used against folks like us? We condemn the Taliban for the use of terror. But your version has a benevolent twist of tyranny, that rivals the distorted beliefs of the Al Qaeda. Speak directly to Arab, Muslim and Islamic interests if you want to offer true assistance. Using the likes of the World Bank and the IMF will only bring perpetual debt. Patrolling with blue UN helmets will agitate. And holding elections with international observers will insult. That is a false formula for peace, and a blueprint for continuous terror.

James Hall aka SARTRE

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Final Word:

When the relevance of the Patriot Act is dismissed as an illustration that the same mindset deems to impose their illusion on Afghanistan, can we really trust the senses of the observer who claims that the inhabitants seek the results of nation-building? The point is central and escapes the Statist consistency. Deny facts, the historic record and evidence that conflicts with your design that manufactures a peace, that you want, and will be imposed on everyone else.

Ignorance of the way the world really works is a perquisite for being an interventionist. Force is your response to unwilling recipients. Responsibility is not arrogance, IMF style. Peoples founded in a kingship tradition, have their own way of deciding who is in charge. Most of history is the saga of the rise and fall of strongmen. Your recurring prescription of monitored elections borders on calling a horse race, after you have drugged some of the stallions. Tribal loyalties don't lend themselves to party ideology.

Pedaling the scam of another UN peacekeeping mission exposes your real motives. Walking away, to the internationalist is allowing a culture to arrive at their own leadership structure, by the means that works for them. If you are offended by those methods, you won't hesitate to impose your solution. Want to help? Buy what they sell. But if their most desired export is the poppy, we should pass on the swap. If that is their trade policy, why should we create a false guilt for a society that seeks to destroy themselves? Maybe you need to redirect your energy to correct the conditions back home, before you wish to save remote cultures. Or are you seeking exclusive trade rights as your reward for your charity?

James Hall - 'The Right'


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