Saturday, December 13, 2008

Child abuse, Suicide bombings, Afghanistan, relief of suffering.

Three marines killed by a 13 year old suicide bomber in Helmand.

Four families are plunged into grief as parents experience the void of death of their child.

Grief, agony, sorrow, anger. I have been there. If you know one of those who died, may your pain subside soon.

Maybe there is a species of joy in the minds of the Taleban who sent the child, just as any other child abuser gets pleasure from what they do. Because this is child abuse; the child may have said that s/he wanted to do it, but at 13, a child's mind can be unduly influenced by manipulative adults. Those who send children to be suicide bombers are not servants of the Prophet (PBUH): they are common criminals, and should have a fatwah put on them.

Yes, it was just another bomb, and thousands of her people have died also. I predict that he had lost close family members in the conflict. We bomb, they bomb, so so we bomb again and they bomb again and so on ad nauseam.

The Chinese have a phrase for it: "Things that arise mutually".
And Gandhi: "And eye for an eye ends with everybody blind".

Dan Plesch rightly points to the fact that we are perceived by one section of the Afghanis as invaders, merely the latest in a historic succession of invaders whom they have seen off.

This is the elephant in the room: every skuleboy kno that Afghan invasions always fail. Look at the USSR: a superpower only a few hours down the motorway, not a 12 hour flight in a tranport plane.

What is the point of our presence in Afghanistan? The list is given off top of head, in no particular order:
  1. to defeat, or at least punish and incapacitate Al-Quaeda
  2. to bring democracy
  3. to protect the oil pipeline that will run through Afghanistan
  4. ?to stop the production of opium
  5. ?to maintain a NATO encirclement of Russia
  6. er...
  7. anything else?
Critique

OK
  1. Al-Qaeda:
    The punishment has been duly meted out. The exact equivant of 9/11 - 3000 Afghan deaths - was passed many months ago. Just consider though, the deaths as a proportion
    of the total population. A far greater proportion of the Afghan nation have died than the 3000 US citizens that died on 9/11.

    It has to some extent been a collective punishment, (like the punishment Israel has been infliciting on the Paestinians) due to "collateral damage" (sick). It is pretty clear that Al-Qaeda is incapacitated, but by no means defeated. I do not hear many military strategists proclaiming the imminent annihilation of the terrorist threat.
    The most effective defence against Osama Bin Laden and his friends is through intelligence, police and financial strangulation. The whole "War on Terror" may arguably have had some effect in restraining OBL, but they most certainly are at the same time his best recruiting sergeant.

  2. Democracy
    Yes, it is good that the Taliban have gone. It would be better if they had been pushed out by non-violent means, but that is a matter of UN reform in the coming years. It is good that they have had an election, but not good that the government's writ runs out a few miles away from Kabul, nor that the admin is shot through with corruption.
    There is more to democracy than installing an oil man with a dodgy brother as President. Democracy, by definition, has to come from the people up. That means using the Panchayyat, which is an excellent form of Afghan democracy.

  3. Oil pipeline
    Not very secure, given the recent attack on the NATO supply lines.

  4. Opium
    It is not quite clear what the British Army is supposed to be doing about the poppy farmers. They seem to be under orders to let them be.

    The opium trade was almost crushed by the Taleban. Now it is providing them with their main source of income. The Green Party rightly (here, and the European GP) holds that we should buy the most definitely buy the opium for medical use for severe pain in Africa.
    Click on the opium label at foot of this piece for details.

  5. NATO/Russia
    In brief: This is human reality we are talking about, not some abstract discussion of geopolitical theory. Sorry, we are not interested in your grown-up game of Risk any more. It is time to put behind us the infinite regressions of armchair strategists. Militarism is the problem, not the solution.

If the tragedy that took four lives in Afghanistan is to mean anything, let it be the point at which

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