Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Listening To Afghans For A Change.

"In some ways, Letters to my Daughters is the mirror image of Steve Coll’s book Ghost Wars, which chronicles the involvement of the West in Afghanistan between 1979 and 2001. Koofi’s book tells us what it was like on the inside, to have your country serve as the site of a violent and repressive tug of war between competing ideologies, and – more accurately – competing thugocracies. One of the most compelling angles to the story is how completely alien the Taliban are to the non-Pashtun Afghans. They appear in the narrative like some weird, science-fiction menace, pushing relentlessly northward, scoring victory after victory, imposing their arabist customs and interpretation of Islam on a people who had always considered themselves the pre-eminent practitioners of the Muslim faith.

"This bears emphasizing, because it has become an article of faith in the West –first amongst the anti-war left, but now in the highest reaches of the Obama administration – that the Taliban ideology is an authentic and long-standing part of the Afghan political fabric, and that ending the war will require some sort of bargain under the rubric of 'reintegration and reconciliation.' Fawzia Koofi begs to differ. As she sees it, the R&R agenda is largely driven by the West’s desire to bring its troops home as quickly as possible: 'That is a mistake. It is another short-term quick fix that will do nothing to solve the world’s problems, only store them up and make them worse for another day' . . ."

That's from Andrew Potter, writing in Macleans, top drawer as always. That Talibanism is alien, foreign and repugnant to the overwhelming majority of Afghans - and that the "west," most noticeably its "anti-war" elite, has failed so pathetically to notice this most basic fact about Afghanistan - is a central focus of my upcoming book, Come from the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan. Fawzia Koofi figures prominently in it, among several Afghan women's rights leaders.

Elsewhere, our friend Michael Weiss and his crew at the HJS have been listening to Syrian revolutionaries. Here's Mike's verdict: "The evidence suggests that this revolution is the most liberal and Western-friendly of any of the Arab Spring uprisings. That it's also the least supported by the West is a tragedy."

I guess we've all been too busy playing with the new superhero action figure Transgressive Page to notice.


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