“Now is not the time to withdraw.”

December 1, 2009 at 1:33 pm (By Amba)

A timely read on Afghanistan from a most unlikely source:

We were a group of eight women and one man organized by Code Pink, Women for Peace, and we arrived in Kabul believing the U.S. should withdraw its troops and spend more money on development.

After eight days, our presumptions were turned upside down, splitting us into camps with conflicting opinions.  Some still wanted an exit strategy, but one woman who’s spent 40 years in non-violent peace work reversed her lifelong stand, believing the military should stay and more troops might be helpful.   “It shocks me to admit this,” she said. […]

[M]eeting with a wide range of Afghans […w]hat surprises us is that almost all say they want U.S. troops to stay, for security and to train the Afghan army.   Even those who are hostile to U.S. policy say,  “Now is not the time to withdraw.” […]

Asad Farhad, a former minister of finance, tells us that if all foreign troops are withdrawn, “This government collapses in 48 hours and we have what we had before:  killing, looting, rape.”

Paul [the lone male peace activist] is perplexed.  “I’d read that only 20 per cent of Afghans want American troops to stay, but that’s not what we’re finding.”

One woman, an attorney, wonders out loud whether the group ought to reconsider its call for a quick exit strategy.  Code Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin jumps in, warning that believing is more important than seeing:

Medea breaks in, “Let’s not be so quick to change our thinking.  In the first days you get bombarded with new ideas.  At the end we’ll see what we want to integrate in our bedrock beliefs.”  I ask what those beliefs are.  “The military can’t defeat the Taliban,” she says. “Countries have to work out democracy on their own and women have to find ways to liberate themselves.”

So much for solidarity with oppressed sisters.

The story continues with a visit to a group of women, from their 20s to their 50s, “on fire for learning.”  The stories of women’s fate are harrowing, the questions and the answers far from simple.  For Afghan women, the Taliban is not the only enemy:  tradition and ignorance are even worse.  Can we Americans fight that?

Can we not?

I have more to say on this, but will save it for dialog in the comments.

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15 Comments

  1. PatHMV said,

    Any experience which makes hard-core ideologues open their minds a bit is a wonderful thing.

    As for the substantive issue, of course one cannot force a mindset of liberation on anyone else. BUT you can provide (to borrow a term the Code Pink folks should understand) a “safe space” for exploration of new possibilities.

    I would ask Ms. Benjamin if she opposes sending police out to domestic violence calls, on the grounds that the women being beaten “have to find ways to liberate themselves.” America cannot, by itself, liberate Afghan women any more than we can liberate all of Afghanistan. But we can help those who WANT to move in the right direction, by protecting them from the worst, the most backwards, of the bunch.

    It always has amazed me that it was the relatively conservative Bush Administration which used rhetoric along the lines of “these are all our brothers and sisters,” while the hippie-types, the Code Pinks of America, use the rhetoric of isolation and “not our problem, but theirs.”

  2. wj said,

    As Pat says, it is self-evident that one cannot reasonably be simultaneously opposed to any use of force abroad (a peacenik, if you will) and in favor of the rights of those who are oppressed. The oppressors, whether at home or abroad, are always willing to use force. They cannot be stopped by mere moral suasion because they simply do not subscribe to the same morality. (Whether they subscribe to any morality is, in some cases, doubtful. But not in all — but it is a very different moral code than most Americans are accustomed to.)

    So if they are to be stopped, and the rights of the oppressed defended, someone will have to use force against the oppressors. At home, it will generally be the police. Abroad, it will be the military. Those who feel themselves unable to support those who use force to advance and defend someone’s rights must accept that they do not put a high value on those rights. They may talk passionately about those rights . . . but their higher priority is opposing those who would use force to make them actually happen.

    What I see happening to the people who visited Afghanistan is massive reality check. Granted, there are ideologues (from all ideologies, not just the left) who simply do not let mere details like facts impact their positions. It speaks well of these folks that, faced with reality on the ground, they were able and willing to re-visit their original positions. Would that more people were that adult.

  3. karen said,

    “The story continues with a visit to a group of women, from their 20s to their 50s, “on fire for learning.” The stories of women’s fate are harrowing, the questions and the answers far from simple. For Afghan women, the Taliban is not the only enemy: tradition and ignorance are even worse.”

    “So if they are to be stopped, and the rights of the oppressed defended, someone will have to use force against the oppressors. At home, it will generally be the police. Abroad, it will be the military. Those who feel themselves unable to support those who use force to advance and defend someone’s rights must accept that they do not put a high value on those rights. They may talk passionately about those rights . . . but their higher priority is opposing those who would use force to make them actually happen.”

    Bb-bbb-but– the OIL!!! What about the OIL!!! Surely, you are not presuming that there could have been something– humanitarian, some MORAL reasoning in freeing a people held hostage in their own land by a shared enemy of the US– that would have caused, no– a stronger word(i miss my unpacked dictionary)– impelled?– W and CONGESS to sign onto a war in a foreign land???? Damnation.

    If you want a REAL reality check– go to Gateway Pundit– or link to the Code Pink video there of peacenik Cindy Sheehan and Feminist ilk– having an open-minded conversation w/a war Vet, an older war Vet. That’s reality.

    No one cares about the 3rd side, anymore. No one wants to get down to the truth.
    A slight aside, here: amba? I must confess when i read your post all i could think was(forgive me)… “no. f-ing. shit.”

  4. karen said,

    Since i always come here 1st(;0))- i see that GPundit has a whole new pg on the Speech and things WH related, so the video i refer to above must be on the following pg. It’s really worth watching.

    At least we aren’t Ireland(yet).

  5. Spud said,

    Gateway Pundit Karen? Aren’t they about the same as Code Pink when it comes to radicalism?

  6. karen said,

    Hijack- sorry, but i’m crammin’ for time- the lack thereof- and i just watched a video of Chris Matthews and then picked another of the little ones running underneath of a man whom i would LOVE to know the name of– Frank something? Balding, bearded– a Professor- a thinker.

    Anywho– i found this:

    “… Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time and in every place. Targeting innocent civillians for murder is always and everywhere wrong. Brutality against women is always and everywhere wrong. There can be no neutrality between justice and cruelty, between the innocent and the guilty. We are in a conflict between good and evil and America will call evil by it’s name.
    “By confronting evil and lawless regimes, we do not create a problem, we reveal a problem. And we will lead the world in opposing it.”

    Gotta go– herd check(do you really want to know what that is?lol)

  7. karen said,

    Spud:0)– it’s been a long time, eh?

    You know, just the other day a friend stated that blogs run long on opinion and not much on fact. That as far as investigative journalism- it couldn’t be trusted& was actually a dis-service to truth. That was the word she’d heard on the street, anyhow.

    That is so– negative of respecting anyone’s ability to differenciate(sp- must find dictionary, dammit) between opinion and fact. It’s pretty obvious when someone goes of in a rant or a tangent, straying from the quotes and the links. Anyway, is Gateway stridently Rightwing. Yes.

    What does that have to do w/the viewing of the video???

  8. karen said,

    … and the quote i printed above?? W- 3 June 2002… West Point.

  9. Spud said,

    Karen, my point was that Gateway Pundit and Code Pink are so extreme they meet.

  10. karen said,

    Then , you really don’t get the point of Gateway.

  11. Stephanie said,

    Karen, with all due respect, yopu are talking about the war in Iraq, not Afghanistan, in paragraph 3 of the 3rd comment. No one I know of ever thought the war in Afghanistan was ever about oil- do they even have any oil? Iraq is a different kettle of fish IMO. Our reasons for going into each place were not the same- although yes, some of the same goals can be accomplished. There are MANY places we should be in if we want to liberate the oppressed- a few countries in Africa come to mind.

  12. karen said,

    Stephanie– i thought about that when i wrote that, about the oil. Then i figured, probably erroneously, that since we were speaking Middle East– it would all be about oil, all the time. I was probably wrong.

    Since i listen to so much NPR- they have been having really good conversations about Afghanistan and the AlQ/Taliban strengh and presence there, i feel that maybe things are going to work out. I am by no means any kind of expert about foreign affairs, but i do have a few friends that are serving right now, one fella i know to be deployed Dec 11 & one that’s been in the Army , gosh- for 7 yrs, now? Since he graduated, so he’s 24/25 yrs old. A Ranger and the apple of my two girls’ big, brown eyes.– and somehow, the 2 minutes i heard(sorry, i tuned in on Obama’s: “… if i didn’t think this was a good idea i would pull every one of our troops out tomorrow…” or something of that line) and just thougth that was pretty- i don’t know- pompous? Like HE knows so much(maybe he does, idk)) got me as upset as watching the Sheehan video. Almost.

    So, i’m sorry if the info was wrong, and i don’t believe that liberation was the main reason behind going in, just one of the many and probably, in the end- the most worthy. But, wdik:0). Thanks for pointing it out.

  13. karen said,

    And to further clarify the 1st sentence– i mean that i would be about oil to those who- believe that it’s only about the oil. You know?

  14. Spud said,

    Karen, what point am I suppose to get about Gateway Pundit? Their mindset is as extreme as Code Pink. Except one is way left, the other is way right. I’m sorry, I’m not into extremism.

  15. Stephanie said,

    Karen- Didn’t catch Obama’s speech, just heard the decision- but we went into Afghanistan days after 9/11, because that was where Al Queda was hiding- Bin Laden was there for years and almost captured several times. I was just reading Peggy Noonan’s piece over at the WSJ- I think Obama talked about the background in his speech. Here’s what she says:

    “His recounting of the history of America in Afghanistan was clever and helpful: Most of us need to be reminded of at least some of the facts, and some soldiers on their way to Kandahar were only 10 and 12 years old when it all began. And so, “We did not ask for this fight.” We and our allies were “compelled” to fight after dreadful men killed nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. America moved, and with a forgotten unity. “Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them—an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98-0. The vote in the House was 420-1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5—the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all.””

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