"Today we have nothing, no food, no money, no work for our young people. We thought the foreigners were going to help us, but they haven't."
September 14, 2002 8:25 PM   Subscribe

"Today we have nothing, no food, no money, no work for our young people. We thought the foreigners were going to help us, but they haven't." For some, the Taliban simply offered protection. Now that protection is gone.
posted by SpaceCadet (33 comments total)
For some, the Taliban simply offered protection. Now that protection is gone.

Are you implying that things were better under the Taliban?

It hasn't been a year... it takes time to turn around a society.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:34 PM on September 14, 2002

It hasn't been a year... it takes time to turn around a society.

It's hardly an Occupation of Afghanistan, is it? That's the impression I got from Bush to justify the thousands of innocents that "had" to be killed in order to make Afghanistan a stable country. I don't have a lot of hope that the current Afghan government will be able to control the lawlessness that is happening there, when compared to the Taliban. I'm not say the Taliban are great, but a lot of people, as the news report states, even prefer to live under the Taliban simply for better protection.

What struck me about the report was how seemingly LITTLE the West has helped out in cleaning up the country. Wasn't that the point of the war?
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:49 PM on September 14, 2002

The point of the war was never to help those people. That was, ahem, collateral damage. The point was to clear out AQ and score a pipeline.

I have a sinking feeling we're just gonna repeat our mistakes of the 1980s. I wonder what skyscraper they'll hit in 2019.
posted by donkeyschlong at 8:52 PM on September 14, 2002

I don't think SpaceCadet is saying life was better under the Taliban, it's a simplistic mirror of the report in which, from those small communities, they are weighing the consistency of the Taliban way of life with that of a more free, but chaotic livelihood. Of course changes and progression take time. Yet with the taliban regime there would have been none of that.
Being wary of foreign intervention (despite its fair intentions)/or lack thereof, is an upheaval I cannot imagine.
posted by G_Ask at 8:53 PM on September 14, 2002

and i thought mine was an optimistic post! I'm not sure pondering future attacks follows the vein of the post, but as in any state/community, aren't the outskirts/smaller communities/less affluent areas the last to gain?
posted by G_Ask at 9:00 PM on September 14, 2002

but a lot of people, as the news report states, even prefer to live under the Taliban simply for better protection.

Now would that be the ones that underwent female genital mutilation or the Pashtuns in Northern Afghanistan whose people have been raped, beat, and killed?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:19 PM on September 14, 2002

Now would that be the ones that underwent female genital mutilation or the Pashtuns in Northern Afghanistan whose people have been raped, beat, and killed?

No, it's the starving, jobless, homeless people who want the security (from their POV) of the Taliban.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:24 PM on September 14, 2002

So then you have no problem with the Patriot Act, right?
It is security above all else.... As long as it is not your rights they are violating.


I say this because I see parallels. Not between the Taliban and the Patriot Act, but blindness to the difference.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:31 PM on September 14, 2002

steve, you're deliberately being dense. the patriot act, in its infinite take the money and run suckitude, supposedly "protects" against the statistically unlikely phenomenon of terrorism. vis-a-vis afghanistan, we're talking basic security, like people not breaking into your mud hut.

although patriot act = taliban ain't such a bad call.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:06 PM on September 14, 2002

I see no parallels here. Freedom is a luxury that comes after food and security. We, generally, have those. Afghans do not. An organization doesn't have to be noble, saintly or even legal to persuade the fellaheen (I use this word where it is equivalent to a melange of campesinos, paisanos, the common man, etc.) that it could ward off death. They only have to be persuasive and effective, by whatever means.

It reminds me of certain areas in New York City in which drug organizations or the mob provide safer streets than the police could ever do.

In the job listings for non-governmental organizations, I see a large number of openings for organizations based in Pakistan, many of which also work in Afghanistan. So the aid is coming. The micro-loan, entrepreneurship programs, however, will be longer in coming: the infrastructure is so weak that small amounts of capital dropped onto the economy blow away with the dust. It will take three years of normal rain and billions of dollars to swing the future of Afghanistan.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:06 PM on September 14, 2002

Of course, whatever outcome there is, some people are going to be arguably worse off. I once read an analysis of the various Yugoslavian wars as a latter-day Deliverance, a sort of hillbillies vs. farmers & city folk. Much the same is probably going on in Afghanistan, where banditry has been a way of life for centuries. Throw in tons of weaponry supplied by various factions and the black market, and spice it with a weak central government, and some people will be temporarily worse off. For the moment the US is supporting warlordism, and for a long while after so will the central government, even as it builds up an army. It may be years before they'll be able to effectively challenge the authority of folks like Dostum and Ismail Khan, who have both been at this for a very long time, but in the short run they will have to tolerate and co-opt mid-level provincial governors, perhaps with strong clan affiliations, who may not always treat everyone in their zone of influence fairly. Much will depend on the outcome of the constitutional process and the success of the interim government at achieving its own security, longevity, and credibility.

The Taliban were successful in the beginning because they transcended tribal boundaries, co-opted warlords, and crushed bandits, as well as some of the more popular Islamic practices. The Communist governments were also successful in the beginning because of the education, jobs, and modernity they brought (in those days, modernity was much prized among Muslims). And of course, the Fascists in Italy "made the trains run on time". There can be a little good in any regime; few would survive if they didn't provide their citizens with something desirable.

What we have here is probably a group who is, for some reason -- and it may well be Taliban affinities! -- is politically isolated and thus open to depredations of bandits and the like. They won't be alone, but it's probable that the majority of similar communities have strong affiliations with local warlords on at least a tribal basis, which offers them more of this lawnorder.
posted by dhartung at 10:08 PM on September 14, 2002

in those days, modernity was much prized among Muslims

uncharacteristically cheap generalization, dhartung. i'm surprised at you.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:15 PM on September 14, 2002

Call me naieve (spelling?), but I honestly thought there was going to be an Occupation. You know, like what happened after WWII in Japan. From the roots up, I thought Afghanistan was going to be rebuilt. Do we really think a new Afghan government is going to change things? It seems that it's just an expedient option taken by the West.
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:20 PM on September 14, 2002


SpaceCadet, so your for nation building?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:35 PM on September 14, 2002

your for nation building?


versus nation-destroying? sure.
posted by donkeyschlong at 10:47 PM on September 14, 2002

SpaceCadet, so your for nation building?

Of course. And why not?
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:48 PM on September 14, 2002

excuse my grammer.

SpaceCadet.. Chill out, just wondering were you stand.?? It wasn't a loaded question.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:51 PM on September 14, 2002

Let me just say this.. with the current bodyguard work we're doing with Karzai. It's just making him look more like a puppet of America.

Just like with Diem in South Vietnam, the Afghanis never elected Karzai.

They went from a screwed up state to a screwed up client state.

Nationbuilding? Just wait until something big happens and then we'll bail out of Afghanistan, leaving them all to fight for the right to 'build' their nation
posted by RobbieFal at 11:02 PM on September 14, 2002

Now would that be the ones that underwent female genital mutilation or the Pashtuns in Northern Afghanistan whose people have been raped, beat, and killed?

For the record, FGM isn't practiced much outside of sub-saharan Africa, Egypt, and some parts of the Middle East. I don't believe the Taliban ever practiced that.
posted by laz-e-boy at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2002

SpaceCadet.. Chill out, just wondering were you stand.?? It wasn't a loaded question.

I am chilled out. I just answered your question. I didn't think it was loaded at all. Of course I am for nation building. I am a proponent of any truly positive act, and I am opposed to any negative, harmful act. It's just the way I am.

The report on CNN really disappointed me, considering the misery that bombing Afghanistan brought to many of the people there. I hoped that it was to be the drawing out of the poison, so to speak, the grasp of the nettle (albeit, other people taking the pain)....instead, it looks as though the nation is NOT being sufficiently helped by the West (even though we are more than capable of re-building this nation).

Please justify the bombing of Afghanistan in the name of peace and prosperity, given the lack of evidence that the West are giving the people of Afghanistan a real helping hand in starting over and rebuilding their country.
posted by SpaceCadet at 11:13 PM on September 14, 2002

read the links
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:17 PM on September 14, 2002

Not everyone had it bad under the Taliban. Men, for the most part, had a very good deal, women were enslaved, confined to their homes, denied medical help for minor or major problems, and so on. Many died, or killed themselves rather than face a future which seemed absolutely bleak.

When the Taliban took over, men who had not made the grade for university, suddenly got a free pass, and women who had, were denied the right to attend. Women were starved, beaten raped, however they had to keep quiet about these crimes, or find themselves suddenly cast as the perpetrator.

Now, things are better, but not good enough. Not as good as Bush promised they would be at this stage, even if you believed the promises. The Western countries who joined America and fought to oust the Taliban really did so for the wrong reasons, eg when their hand was forced by the terrorist actions in the US.

The CNN article doesn't interview any women, and some of the problems it canvasses, such as the threatening pamphlets handed out at a girls school, and the bombs that have been set off at some establishments that obviously go against the ridged tenets of the Taliban law, have obviously been causes by the Taliban themselves. The drought is tragic, and overall, not enough ongoing aid has been given to the peoples of Afghanistan.
posted by lucien at 11:52 PM on September 14, 2002

RAWA may not be the most trustworthy outfit, but I think they provide a valuable viewpoint hard to find elsewhere. They seem to feel that the situation for women in Afghanistan has not really improved since the removal of the Taliban.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 12:25 AM on September 15, 2002

For what it's worth, the government of Afghanis is clearly within their own hands. The Taliban took control because the public let it. Those who opposed it either sat on their hands or didn't get the needed majority behind them to take control. Rule is in the hands of the people.

And...for those who wish to actually help the Afghanis instead of uselessly bitch about it on MeFi, there are a great number of charities that you can donate to.
posted by ttrendel at 2:04 AM on September 15, 2002

I would largely agree with that view, Nicolae. The mindset in many cases hasn't really changed. The law which demanded the mandatory wearing of the Burkha has been lifted, Women are now, as we have read, being accepted back in Afganistan's education system. Women are legally allowed to seek medical attention. The problem is that many of the intellectuals left when the Taliban took over, and most have not returned.

Arranged marriages are still the norm, women are still treated as goods and chattel.

The article you provide discusses arranged marriages and other injustices that stem from what is a very rigid patriarchal society, with it's concomitant laws, strictures, and customs, all of which pre-date the Taliban rule. The Taliban made existing laws far more strict, and imposed their own laws, such as the one which barred Women from being allowed to be treated by male medical doctors, and making it illegal for Women to receive an education, thus ensuring Women would get no legal medical help at all.

Now we are left with the problems of how much worse things are in some areas, how much things have improved, and where our responsibilities lie and to what degree. All this when we know that to a large extent we were over there first and foremost to prevent further terrorism occuring in our countries, despite the rhetoric our leaders spouted, we know this is true.

Have we even achieved that much? And how much more help do we need to give, given that these problems are entrenched not so much in Afgahnistan's laws, but in mindsets regarding the role of women that have been in place for centuries, interpretations of the Koran, and social frameworks within which Women are expected to play certain sub-servient roles, whether they want to or not.

I personally would like us to give much more help to these people, I am not sure that this will be occuring and how much help they will allow us to give them, given that in many cases, we see here a clash of ideologies. We aren't helping any of the countries which treat women in this way, essentially. If we try to prevent the problems there that are keeping Women in a servile role, we would be accused of destroying their culture, creating other problems in their place, such as family disunity and poverty, and wide-spread crime, and of disregarding long held religious beliefs, and of trying to colonialise their country and impose our value system over theirs.

If we just throw money at the problem, will that reach the families who are starving? In many cases we aren't allowed to travel freely to out-lying areas. Commonly, the war lords keep the money, and are the only ones who profit from it.

This problem is so just so complex. I find it really frustrating, but again, would like us to do more. Obviously better minds than mine will need to work out ways to effect that help.
posted by lucien at 2:27 AM on September 15, 2002

lucien, well said.

I'm so surprised that Afghanistan has sunk back into the background of the Western news media and politics in general, at a time when we should be following up on the war campaign with the rebuilding campaign. This was supposed to be the more positive aspect, and the reason for all the bombs. What about Iraq? Will that be a lot of bombing and a token effort on restructuring?
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:56 AM on September 15, 2002

Afghanistan Reconstruction Portal
posted by sheauga at 5:36 AM on September 15, 2002

Jobs and Other Opportunities: This page brings together specific opportunities to contribute to post-war reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, such as jobs, internships, volunteer openings, calls for papers etc. Please share your comments about the resources that you see below! Add some other useful links to our community catalog!
posted by sheauga at 5:39 AM on September 15, 2002

read the links

You should read your own some time, Steve. I believe you pointed to this one to counter claims that people might prefer to live under the Taliban. Well, that link, as the big bold title said, is about people 'Paying for the Taliban's Crimes': that is, the resurgence of rape, assault and murder by our friends in the Northern Alliance who assume that Pashtun = Taliban just as some waitresses assume that Middle Eastern = terrorist.

But it was nice of you to undercut your argument so thoroughly. Saved us from showing that the situation in the north, where the TV cameras never go, is getting to be like that before the Taliban arrived: a different kind of awful.
posted by riviera at 6:19 AM on September 15, 2002

Bush is doing everything within his power to help Afghanistan achieve economic and cultural parity with America. For mine, I'd say America will be level pegging within the next five years....
posted by The Great Satan at 6:55 AM on September 15, 2002

The Great Satan, lol!
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:30 AM on September 15, 2002

Showing again that we can easily win the war, but waging peace? The armchair generals continue to be befuddled by it. Rampant crime and anarchy in an outlaw state will have people in Afghanistan wondering exactly why things are supposed to be "better" now - and continually weakening America's unilateral case. Bush has already said post-Saddam Iraq isn't his problem, so figure on the same nutiness there.

George will go down in history as the second man to lose a popular war he thought he'd won - just like Poppa.
posted by owillis at 10:52 AM on September 15, 2002

not sure where i read it, but a reporter asked a afghan pilot, after about a year of the Taliban, "are you not more secure?"

"sure, anyone can be safe in a prison"

The Taliban had people black out windows (paint them black)...just in case someone saw a woman inside. (besides her father, brother, Husband, husbands brothers, grandfather, uncles)

Mullah Omar ran the national treasury from an iron chest in this bedroom.

the Russians killed over a million afghans, displaced 5 million more.

personally, i feel the worlds short term memory is shot.
posted by clavdivs at 4:39 PM on September 15, 2002

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