Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

As opposed to the coddled self-righteous idiots living softly in America you have schoolgirls in Afghanistan.

The leaders of Ghazni, which is about 150 kilometers, or 90 miles, from Kabul, responded by posting armed guards at the school and resuming classes.
Since then, 2,500 girls in black cotton uniforms and white head shawls have packed the school each day, attending in two shifts. The students are blithely unconcerned that they have almost no desks or chairs, and that supplies of notebooks and pens are inadequate. The joy of one group of 10-to-12-year-olds, sitting on the floor, was infectious, and a visitor had only to ask whom they credited for their change of fortune to set off a cheerful chorus.
"America! America! America!" they cried, and then, "George W. Bush!" Across Afghanistan, the joy of freedom regained is evident wherever a traveler goes: in the bazaars, thriving with an instinctive Afghan entrepreneurship that withered under the Taliban; in the cheerful traffic jams that choke cities like Kabul, where emptied streets echoed just a year ago; aboard trucks bearing some of the 1.5 million people returning home after years as refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and among the millions whose livelihoods and simple pleasures the Taliban repressed.
Women work again. Traders fly off to cut deals in Karachi and Delhi and Dubai. Families argue over which television programs to watch on their new satellite systems. People play music again and sing traditional Afghan ballads. Old men parade caged birds and small boys fly kites. Any fair reckoning of what the United States has accomplished here since Sept. 11, and what it has not, does well to begin with these liberties, for they are the starting point for Afghans when they are asked about the past 12 months.

Tell you what. I will trade every little-minded hater at the anti-America rally in Scotrland tomorrow for those 1,200 schoolgirls.

The story also contains a plea for us not to forget Afghanistan this time.

In Ghazni, the headmaster, Abdul Samad, beamed as he listened to the girls thank America and then took a visitor aside to offer a sober sentiment: "Please tell America we feel very sorry for what happened on Sept. 11, because thousands of innocent people were killed. But please tell them, too, that Sept. 11, for us, was a starting point, and not the end. "This time, we need America to stay with us, and not to run away."

I am one hundred percent behind this plea. The forces that fought the Taliban with us had been fighting the Taliban for years, we would not have been able to achieve such a stunning victory without them. They know the country and the people were willing to not resist their coming. Also many of these menfought as our proxies against the Soviet Union. We do owe them and we should honor that. Luckily it seems our Ambassador feels the same way. He alludes to what I have been saying for some time. Afghanistan will not be stable overnight. The vast majority of the population has no tradition or memory of what aa civil society looks like. That means that in the short term, at least, we must focus on rebuilding and protecting the cities, while carrying out operations (diplomatic and military) that prevent the warlords in the countryside from consolidating to much power. As the cities find peace and law again it will spread. But it will notbe quick. So we must stand fast in the face of the pundits who know only the guilded society they live in and demand we make the changes in Afghanistan happen now.

"Our promise at the outset was that we would get rid of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and make sure that they didn't come back, and we're well on the way to accomplishing that," said Robert Finn, the U.S. ambassador, who has won wide admiration among Afghans for his efforts to speed up the flow of aid.
"But we're at the beginning, not in the middle, and not at the end," Finn said.

< email | 9/10/2002 10:26:00 PM | link

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