War on Terror - Afghanistan essay

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Others say Omar "was chosen by God," Rashid writes. When interviewed by a journalist from Pakistan (Rahimullah Yousufzai) after taking control of Kabul, according to Rashid's book, Omar stated, "We had complete faith in God Almighty. We never forgot that. He can bless us with victory or plunge us into defeat."

Omar was born around 1959 (albeit much of his life is carefully guarded in secrecy), he has only one eye, and he never meets with or speaks with anyone who is not Muslim. He was born into a "family of poor, landless peasants who were members of the Hotak tribe" (Rashid, 25). The Rashid book (24-25) describes him as a "tall, well-built man with a long, black beard and a black turban." He has a "dry sense of humor and a sarcastic wit," albeit he is "extremely shy of outsiders" and is a "poor public speaker," according to Rashid on page 24. Rashid writes that Omar sits on a bed during meetings - to emphasize "his status as leader" - and his business style consists of "lengthy debate and discussions which end with the issuing of 'chits' or scraps of paper on which are written instructions allowing commanders to make an attack..." (Rashid, 25).

On page 105 of Rashid's book, he describes Maulvi Qalamuddin, the then head of "The Department of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice" (or as he preferred to call it, "Department of Religious Observances"), also known as the Taliban's "religious police." His physique and name generated fear across the city of Kabul, and with good reason. This head of "religious police" had under his jurisdiction "thousands of young zealots" who walked around town "with whips, long sticks, and Kalashnikovs" (assault rifles).

Everywhere one looks in researching the Taliban and their policies and beliefs, religion is not far behind. Indeed, in his book, the Taliban: Ascent to Power, author M.J. Gohari writes (Gohari 31) that "Taliban" literally means "students" in Arabic; but the Persian form of "tabid" means "religious student." It is in the elementary schools where "the mentality of religious students [was] basically shaped," Gohari writes. These schools place "a strong emphasis on reading and memorizing the Qur'an, as well as traditions transmitted from the Prophet..."

Continuing the investigation into the literature - with reference to the corruption of pure Islamic "bible" (the Qur'an), and hence the marriage of "church and state" - Gohari (32) points out that these elementary schools are more like official institutions of propaganda. "The Prophet's sayings are the chief source of interpretation of legislative, ethical, theological and social laws and rules," taught to the students, the author explains.

And as to the matter of ethnic minorities living in Afghanistan during the Taliban's religious-driven takeover, Gohari (102) explains that on August 8, 1998, and a few days following that date, "Taliban militiamen...systematically executed between 2,000 and 5,000 males "of fighting age" in one of the deadliest mass killings of civilians..."

And why were these innocent boys gunned down "by firing squads" and by having their throats slashed - in front of their families in a house-to-house rampage? They were believed to be of the "Hazara ethnic minority," and some members of that minority had resisted the Taliban's initial thrust into Kabul at the end of the war with the Soviets, Gohari continues.

Indeed, speaking of the way in which the Omar-led Taliban interpreted "Islamic law," it is worthwhile to point to their incredibly cruel blasting of the irreplaceable internationally revered icons, the 2,000-year-old Bamiyan Buddha statues. The Taliban blew up the Buddhas ostensibly because Buddhism was not tolerated in this new radical Islamic state.

The man who did the demolition of the great statues - they rose 175 feet and 121 feet into the air - was Mawlawi Mohammed Islam Moham-medi; he was interviewed by journalist Christian Parenti in Mother Jones magazine (Parenti 2006). He said he "had tried to stop it," but he had "no real power." He was just a "symbolic leader." Later in the interview though, Mohammedi, a former Taliban commander and now a member of the National Assembly, admitted that he had "secured" his region "well"; the people "cooperated because they knew they had a leader of their own," he said. "And if they didn't cooperate, I'd kill them."

FIVE: Theoretical Construct

The concept of "Classical Realism" fits nicely into any objective observation of what is going on in Afghanistan vis-a-vis the U.S. interests. Luca Ratti writes in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies (Ratti, 2006) that realism is "...the oldest and most prominent research paradigm in the study of international relations." Ratti goes on to say that "realism remains the primary or alternative approach in every major book and article dealing with theories of international politics" because of its "simplification of actor preferences" (Ratti, 82). The realistic theory helps to define what state objectives are, where they arrive from, and who the deviant players are, Ratti explains. The deviant players in this war are insurgents and ethnic activists who see the U.S. As an interloping Western elitist power broker. Classical realism brings to the forefront a "...certain hard-headed, unromantic, uncompromising attitude towards the world," Brian Leiter writes in the journal Philosophical Issue (Leiter, 2001). Human motives can be assessed with "brutal honesty," Leiter (245) continues.

To be brutally honest, in the case of the U.S. And Afghanistan, it is very obvious that NATO troops and American troops are not going to be able to seal off the Afghan-Pakistani border, nor are they going to be able to go into Pakistan and completely root out the suicide-bomber-type radicals who are training to come into Afghanistan and blow up American soldiers and/or civilians and buildings. The realistic truth is - to quote Machiavelli - it is "better" to evaluate "what really happens" than spend time on "theories or speculations" (Leiter, 245). And in this case, what is really happening in Afghanistan is being brought to bear by ethnically relevant individuals in Pakistan and Afghanistan who have more at stake than the visiting armies of NATO and the U.S. Realistically, then, the U.S. must approach Afghanistan in a totally different context than it approached Iraq. The lessons learned by the Soviets in Afghanistan should be required homework for Obama.

SIX: Conclusion

The thesis presented at the outset of this paper asserted that the war in Afghanistan cannot be "won" by the U.S. - the present talk of a "surge" notwithstanding. Charles Cogan, who was in charge of the "Near-East South-Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations of the CIA from 1979 to 1984," writes that no matter what Obama decides to do in Afghanistan, as long as terrorist-minded insurgents have "safe haven" in Pakistan (and they do, Cogan believes) the situation for the U.S. And NATO "will be extremely difficult" (Cogan, p. 155). NATO and the U.S. now find themselves in "the box of helplessness" Cogan continues, "up against an insurgency led by members of the dominant ethnic group who benefit from a safe haven where their fellow Pashtuns live." Fighting these insurgents who thrive on the Pakistani border and have safety there."..is like trying to air condition a room with the windows open" (Cogan, 156).

Works Cited

Afghanistans. (2008). Afghanistan History. Retrieved March 22, 2009, at http://www.afghanistans.com/information/history/default.htm.

Bhatia, Michael. (2007). The Future of the Mujahideen: Legitimacy, Legacy and Demobilization in Post-Bonn Afghanistan. International Peacekeeping, 14(1), 90-107.

Cogan, Charles G. (2008). Afghanistan: Partners in Time. World Policy Journal, 3(25), 153-156.

Gibbs, David N. (2006). Reassessing Soviet Motives for Invading Afghanistan: A Declassified

History. Critical Asian Studies, 38(2), 239-263.

Gohari, M.J. (1999). The Taliban: Ascent to Power. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, Chris; & Leslie, Jolyon. (2004) Afghanistan: The Mirage of Peace. London: Zed Books

Kakar, Mohammed. (1997). Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979-1982. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Leiter, Brian. (2001). Classical Realism. Philosophical Issues, 11, 244-248.

Parenti, Christian. The Bomber of Bamiyan: Reincarnation of a Buddha Smasher. Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved March 15, 2009, at http://motherjones.com.

Rashid, Ahmed. (2000). Taliban:…[continue]

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