so, the taliban...

I’m going to chose my words carefully here.

I watched a documentary about Afghanistan last night, and was stunned at what is going on there. Not the bombing of Buddhist statues, or even the unbearable restrictions on women (no jobs, healthcare or education); no, what concerned me was the alleged massacres of opposition forces, and the mass graves of allegedly unarmed civilians.

The opposition forces are Afghan, but of a different ethnic group to the Taliban, they are islamic, but not the extreme form practiced by the Taliban, they do not even speak the same language.

When interviewed the taliban’s foreign minister repeatedly said that they had brought “peace and security” to a land ravaged by 20 years of civil war. A war financed in part by the USA and USSR.

Now, this is my point. I have many muslim friends, from many different ethnic backgrounds (Middle Eastern, Malaysian, North African) and ALL of them think that the actions of the Taliban are inexcusable. So, we aren’t dealing with quaint religious customs and cultural differences here. The Afghan people are being FORCED to abide by the Taliban’s religious rules.
The West stepped in (too late) in Rwanda and also in the Balkans, and Iraq.
Why then are the leaders of the world quite happy to impose only economic sanctions and to take no further action?

I am generally not in favour of the major economic forces of the world acting as a police force, (fighting for peace is like fucking for viginity) but in this case…

  1. More than 50% of the afghan population is female. Many were left without male relations during the war. Forbidden to work they now beg or starve.

  2. Women are forbidden to recieve medical treatment from male doctors, and there aren’t enough female doctors left. More women die in childbirth there than anywhere else in the world. 1 in 4 children die before the age of 5. Women are forbidden to recieve education after the age of 12, so there aren’t going to be many female doctors around in 20 years.

  3. There are over 4 MILLION refugees in camps in Pakistan.
    they have been pouring in steadily over the last 20 years. This is unacceptable for all concerned.

  4. There is now the possibility of genocide being perpetrated against the opposition forces (different ethnic groups and religious customs, remember?)

Has anyone got any sensible suggestions (other than “send in the US marines”, or “nuke 'em!”) of what the world in general, or me in particular could do about the situation?

When Pakistan and Iran, who has enforced legally strict interpretations of the Koran from time to time, start dissing the Taliban for its take on the Koran, then it really has problems wit the world community. It doesn’t help their cause that Most Wanted Osama bin-Lauden is living comfortably withing thier borders. It’s like they are turning the clock back to 899, before Samedin.

Last time this came up it was more or less agreed that the problem with the Taliban is that we don’t have a stick to beat them with: they don’t want anything from the West–not money, not recognition, not technology, not tourism, not resources, not oil, nothing–so we can’t manipulate them by holding anything back. That makes the only option all-out invasion and that is hard to do in Afganistan. I would go so far as to say it is impossible for the West to do.

As the last thread about this was dying, I suggested that one thing that people in Afganistan, including the Taliban, wanted was acess to Mecca and Medina. I suggested that if Saudi Arabia were to close its borders to pilgrims from Afganistan and if other Islamic nations were to support this action is might give the outside world a little leverage. This idea may have a million problems with it–I am no expert on the middle east or Islam. I am mostly throwing out there to see what those problems might be.

Was it on PBS? If so, it was probably the same documentary I saw a few weeks ago. Basically, the people agreed that the Taliban’s actions were all in their own economic self-interest. They ban TV’s and stereos not because they are “un-Islamic,” but because by doing so they can take bribes from those who try to smuggle them in, and make themselves rich.

The people also agreed that the only way to end Taliban rule was for the international community to stop arming them. They have no support from 95% of Afghanis, and stay in power only because they have more weapons than the 95%. Another possibility would be to heavily arm the opposition. But this sort of action would be rather unpopular, especially with memories of how our involvement in Vietnam started.

Of course, this whole mess dates back several decades to the Cold War era, where the U.S. had the brilliant idea that we had to oppose communism everywhere, even if it meant supporting dictators. This was because right-wing dictators would eventually fall to democracy, but communist dictators wouldn’t. So we supported and armed the Islamic fundamentalist muhajjedin (or “freedom-fighters” as we called them). And even recently we supported the Taliban due to their promises to end poppy-growing as part of our insane drug war. (They have not, of course.) Now we’re upset when it turns out that the people running the country are a thousand times worse than the communists ever were.

(I’m no expert on the Middle East, so if I screwed up some of my analysis in this last paragraph, please feel free to correct me.)

I understand that very recently the US sent the Taliban $49 million in food aid to prevent hunger. Of course they did not send $49 million dollars of food, just the $49 million.

Quite a stupid thing to do IMHO.

As to the OP, it seems there is very little anyone can do to stem the escalating abuses faced by the victims of these fanatics. Sometimes change has to come from within. It is remarkable what people can do when they are hungry enough, tired enough, cold enough, have no options and nothing left to lose.

wrong** QuickSilver** As was posted (in a Pit thread, no less), here’s Powells’ staetment re: that aid, and it did indeed consist of food, food commodities etc. and more from the press briefing in May .
From this thread the cites I listed came from manhattan on the first page of the thread, I’ve linked to the second page since it gave a number of options that people could check out if they felt compelled to ‘do something’ about the horrible conditions for the people living there.

In my own personal opinion, the Taliban is evil. Every bit as evil as Hitler or Pol Pot or Idi Amin. There is very little we can do to stop them.

We can incite rebellion against them, including arming and training a resistance, and help them out. This is similar to what we tried against Ho Chi Min, but it could probably work better, as the Taliban would not have the aid or comfort of any major power. We would need to choose a decent alternative government to support. Propaganda would be interesting, and probably helpful.

Manda JO, I think Saudi Arabia is one of the two or three nations that recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, so they’re probably not going to be of much help.

Thanks for the input every body :slight_smile:
Nope, not on PBS, it was on good old Channel 4 here in the back-water that is Northern Ireland.

hmm, point on Saudi…women there aren’t allowed to drive.
and we’re quite happy to trade with these people (they got oil and they’re willing to sell it.)

I think the point I was trying to make was that if the West feels honour bound to step in on other cases of genocide, and human rights abuses then surely it should be doing something here. The fact that we aren’t smacks of hypocrisy and reveals the self-interest in our foreign policies.
Like I said, the issue is not one of religion (this is not good islam, much like bombing abortion clinics and gay bashings aren’t good christianity).

irishgirl: I can only reiterate the point that I and others made in the earlier Pit thread.

There is just not much that can be done :frowning: .

Direct military action of any effectiveness is virtually impossible. You’d be hard-pressed to pick a more difficult spot on the globe for Western powers to project military force. ( I suppose Khirghizistan might be worse. Maybe. ) Not only is Afghanistan extremely rugged and the Taliban battle-hardened and reasonably well-armed, but it’s also hundreds of miles inland and surrounded by neighbors that aren’t about to offer up the kind of major military facilities needed for an invasion. Not Iran, not China, not the Central Asian republics to the north, not even Pakistan. And of those, only Iran is likely to be tempted into intervening directly, themselves - And a temptation is all it will ever be, because they lack the logistical strength necessary for that sort of operation.

And you’d have to invade. Since Afghanistan has no major infrastructure worth targeting, pinprick missle strikes and the like aren’t going to do jack. Even if, say, Pakistan, were willing to back a Western intervention, no Western power would be insane enough to try it after watching the Soviet debacle. It might be the moral thing to do, but public opinion would start going south in the Western democracies as soon as things started turning ugly. Which they would. No Western govt. would risk itself on such a risky venture in such a isolated part of the world.

Which leaves economic embargoes and political isolation. That’s being done. You can’t really make those any tighter than they already are and so far they are having minimal ( but some ) impact on Taliban activity.

The only other viable option is the “promoting internal resistance groups” card. Leaving aside the obvious irony inherent in that strategy ( it pretty much got Afghanistan where it is today ), there is only so much more that can be done on that front as well. I’m sure Uzbekistan and Iran are indeed propping up the remnants of the anti-Taliban coalition in northern Afghanistan. But those groups are at a severe manpower disadvantage that a massive influx of aid won’t cure. The Taliban has been remarkably successful at co-opting and assimilating other Soviet-era militias ( especially the so-called “fundamentalist” groups that contained a majority of the manpower ) and has established itself very strongly across most of the countryside. For a war-weary people they may seem the best chance at stability and peace, even if many of their policies aren’t exactly beloved. Rousing the country after over 20 years of devastating warfare is going to be more than difficult.

I sympathize with and share your frustration. But IMHO the only thing that can be done is maintain the international isolation and pressure, give aid and comfort of a humanitarian nature when possible, and hope for the whole stinking mess to eventually implode of it’s own self-righteous bullshit.

  • Tamerlane

And keep the UN from recognizing them as a legitimate government…which is one thing the Taliban does seem to want.

The Feminist Majority Foundation spends a lot of time following this issue. While the FMF tends to attract the more extremist feminists, their Taliban information tends to be good.

Mavis Leno (Jay’s wife) is the chair of their anti-Taliban campaign.

Oh, and on women is Saudi Arabia, try Princess, Jean Sasson’s book. Kinda drama-queenish and I’m not convinced 100% accurate, but a good read.

I really hate political screwing around. We have the UN, which is supposed to decide what action is needed where to help provide world peace and then they’re supposed to send in troops to enforce it all.

Well, one of our presidents figured the UN would not be worth beans and he was pretty correct there because no one can agree on anything, unless the oil supplies are affected, and then they send in the US to kick ass. When hey send in UN troops, the poor bastards are not even allowed to use force and often not allowed to aggressively handle those shooting at them! So, why send in UN troops?

No oil is involved in this current dispute, so the UN will sit by and discuss it for a few years, until it makes the Holocaust look like a walk in the park. We’re not supposed to ever allow another Holocaust, but apparently that is only for Jews and Christians because little brown beggars of a weird faith can bury millions in ditches and craters and be just about as nasty to them as the Nazi’s were to the Jews and the world sits on it’s hands.

Just like the world sat by and watched Jews and nations get slaughtered by Hitler, with little concern, and various governments, including ours, tried to work out neutral agreements with him. It’s a real good thing the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor or else we might have not gotten into the war until after the UK fell, and we would have been far too late to arm ourselves.

We’d be speaking German or Japanese now.

Either disband the UN or give it some teeth. The Saudi’s, no longer in danger of having Sadaam pop in for tea, will probably not let us use their land as a staging point to attack the Taliban, nor would India nor Russia. We could go in from around the Gulf of Oman, but you just know Iran would start taking pot shots at heavy transports flying over.

The problem, from what I’ve heard, is that even if two different branches of the Muslim religion are butchering each other, is a force from another religion comes in to assist one, then other Muslim nations will join up to assist those combatants in defeating the ‘infidels’. After the assisting force is creamed, the others pull out and let the two original combatants try to kill each other off.

They guys who wrote the Muslim ‘Bible’ were pretty clever. They included safeguards designed to supress, oppress, and restrict their followers, to discourage outside influence by other religions, to limit individual freedoms which might lead to individual thought and keep fully half of their people (women) as mindless drones least they influence the men. With the rules more strictly enforced than even during the Christian Crusades and Inquisition, they keep a captive following.

The UN could, if they could get Russia and India to agree, send in major UN troops and American Marines with air support and cream the Taliban in around 10 days. Then a UN holding government could be established while the people sorted things out and chose their own leaders. As a rule, most average people don’t like to fight in any war unless they are driven into it by their government.

Probably once the Taliban members are located and suitably removed, the average folks will recall that they did not care who did what in the way of worship just so long as it did not interfere with them.

Make the UN act. Cut off all munitions and war material supplies or even the field by giving the losers some weapons first. Then cut all food supplies going to the Taliban members and troops. Then send in troops who are able to fire back.

Then let it be known that the UN means what it says.

I thought this board was here to fight ignorance?

There is so much wrong with the post I am quoting, but I have decided to confine myself to the one point.

YOU IGNORANT NINNY, the Koran has one author only. Muhammed… (and if you are a believer, he was only taking dictation from Allah).

No wonder the Islamic world ignores the west… with insight like this… (bagkitty wanders off mumbling…)

Well, I’ll add another point. Women were actually better off under Muhammed’s teachings than they had been previously. The Taliban’s (and for that matter, the Shi’ites’) oppression of women has no basis in the Qu’ran. In fact, it’s much less sexist/misogynist than the Old Testament is.

The UN was originally designed to provide world peace between nations, and not within national borders. It’s only since the end of the Cold War that the West and other members of the international community have been able to focus on wars within nations and human rights abuses over the struggle between the superpowers.

Like in Korea or the Gulf War? UN Peacekeepers are often placed under restrictive rules about when they can and cannot use force, but when the UN is able to pass the appropriate sort of resolution, forces under UN auspices are not placed under such restrictions… usually because in these situations there is no peace to keep.

What could be gained by disbanding the UN is not clear to me, but the UN can have as much force as the member nations of the Security Council are willing to give it. In the case of the Taliban and Afghanistan, that’s not much.

I don’t see any hope of effective military intervention to prevent the crimes of the Taliban, as Tamerlane has pointed out. The most effective policy I can imagine right now would be to ostracize the government of Afghanistan, while still attempting to provide as much humanitarian aid to the long-suffering people of Afghanistan as possible. I would also advocate the arming of factions in Afghanistan that have the people’s interest at heart (if there are any :frowning: ). Idealistically, it’d be great if we could move in and eliminate the oppressive regime, like in Kosovo. That notion doesn’t survive the harsh light of reality though, so we’ll have to look for alternatives to overthrow the Taliban without setting up something worse in its place. I suspect that because there’s no easy solution, this will be a hot potato no politician in the West will spend much time handling in the immediate future.

Hey MandaOJ.
You are correct about the Taliban wanting recognition, but not getting it will do very little to change their attitudes. They could probably have parleyed the Budhist statues into recognition but didn’t bother. As far as Saudi Arabia goes, the Taliban are followers of the Wahabi sect of Islam, which started a few miles north of Riyadh and is still a major social force in Saudi. Basically, the Wahabi/Taliban are redneck literalists. I would be amazed if the Saudis weren’t actually funding the Taliban to some extent.

All the best.