Friday, October 09, 2009

Afghanistan -- as we begin year nine
Federal building vigil for peace still holding its ground

Way back in 2001, with the U.S. on the verge of trashing his country of origin, San Franciscan Tamim Ansary wrote a poignant email that somehow went viral all over the net. He asked stunned and grieving folks in his adopted country to get a little perspective.

...We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done. The Soviets took care of it . Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. ...

I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish. We can't let him do that.

He was right of course and now Washington is once again trying to figure out what to do about Afghanistan.

Tamim Ansary spoke today to the assembled members of the nonviolent vigil for peace that has continued every Thursday noon outside the Philip Burton Federal Building ever since 2001. I was too busy taking photos to listen much, but fortunately Ansary published his current views on what should be done on CNN's site so I can share some of them here.

...Restoring Afghanistan means rebuilding a social framework within which poets can make poetry, mystics can acquire followers for their wisdom and musicians can touch hearts, a place where Afghans can pray together and feast together, plunge into raucous enjoyment of Afghan sports and crack jokes that tickle sensibilities across ethnic lines.

Of course Afghanistan also needs buildings, factories, roads, power plants and other such infrastructure, but in every instance, what's most important is not the thing produced but the participation of Afghans in the design and production of the thing and in the decision to produce it in the first place.

The time has come, then, to rethink the U. S. role here. Let's abandon the notion of "a war on terror." In Afghanistan, fighting this war is causing this war. And it's a war "the terrorists" are bound to win.

Next, let's recognize that America cannot save or even fix Afghanistan. That's for Afghans. All America can do is advise and help.

Ansary fears a bloodbath; he doesn't want a mindless withdrawal. Like all the people of the vigil, he just knows that peace is the only answer.

Folks lined up boots representing the servicepeople from California who have died in the Afghanistan war. How much longer will that line up get?

1 comment:

SF8 Webster said...

Will another 40,000 advisers and helpers help? Here's one relevant consideration:

"Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel ... who served in Vietnam, is baffled by the willingness of today's U.S. Army officers to engage in a never-ending counterinsurgency. 'If you're in my generation, it is simply extraordinary that we now have an officer corps that accepts protracted, morally ambiguous warfare as its destiny,' says Bacevich, now a professor at Boston University. 'They have embraced this as the new American way of war, heedlessly, thoughtlessly and — in terms of what the larger interests of the country require — very foolishly.'"

from an article on "offshoring" the war at,8599,1919960,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar

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