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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by skunk, Oct 14, 2004.
Any comment necessary?
If a guy is evil and badnasty, but has the support of a large bloc of voters, how do you keep him out of office, or keep him from having political influence?
How is Afghanistan any different from the U.S. Congress? If some senator has been around a long time and knows where are the skeletons in whomever's closet, or know who's done what for whom, he has power and influence beyond his one vote, right? Or some representative is riding the crest of a very popular political wave, he gains a bunch of say-so beyond his committee position.
So an Afghani warlord has a large number of supporters who want him, their own popular leader, to be important in the new Grand Scheme? Keeping him out is rather hazardous to both the people saying, "No!" and to others' political plans for the future.
It seems to me that for a country with a history like Afghanistan's, the only way you won't have a bunch of bloody-handed leaders is to have a couple of generations' worth of peaceful times. It's much like our Mafia, where the grandchildren of rum-running thugs go to Yale or Harvard and get elected to the Congress or run a legitimate business...
Freedom and liberty... on the march!
First, if there is evidence of these men committing these heinous crimes (rapes and executions, for lords sake), THEY SHOULD BE IN PRISON!!
IF, and thats a BIG if, they ever get out of prison, then maybe they should be able to run for office. But the system should be something like it is here: certain levels of crimes should be enough to disqualify you from public office. The fact that these men aren't in prison, but rather are free and on the ballots shows a pretty big failure in the current system, IMO.
Lets put it this way: I bet a lot of Iraqi's would want to vote for Saddam if given the opportunity. Why won't Saddam be on the ballot in the upcoming elections?
Makes you think, no?
While outrage to these acts is natural, I beleive it belies a fundamental misunderstanding of Afghani character.
The majority of Afghanis are Pathan (one half) and Pathans are the largest existent tribal society in the world. They live by a midieval code of honor called Pukhtunwali and have given Afghanistan all it's Kings and Political Rulers (Karzai is a direct-decendent of Afghani royalty). Curiously, many beleive that the Pathans are decendents of the Israelite King Saul. There culture is w/o political pretension and affectation, free of subtlety and introspection as well as adhering to both chivalry, primitiveness and tribal disorder and recklessness. It is this character that defeated a technologically superior invader (soviets), and also found itself unable to organize it self to rule post-invasion. The mujahidin lacked rhetoric or ideology or a supreme leader for such consolidation.
Afghanis are not fundamentalists in a political sense, becuase they have never had and invasion of Western Culture to revolt against. They had no complexes about the modern world, since they had never clashed with it (until the Soviets). They had no real politics. They are essentially simple ornery mountain folk, whose religion and culture are inseperable from the harsh lonely mountain existence they have lived for centuries.
Women are oppressed in many Muslim societies. Among Pathans (at least rural) they simply don't exist. For illustration, here are three Pathan proverbs:
" Women have no noses, they will eat sh**."
"One's own mother and sister are disgusting"
" Women belong in the house or in the grave."
A Pathan will not tell you the name of his wife and/or mother. To ask is an insult. It would be analgous to asking him to undress in front of a crowd. Women are a private matter.
Women are both an intimate secret and a source of shame. This is because women threaten the facade of splendid male isolation that is essential to a Pathan's sense of self.
It is not a question of of any pathology in the Pathan's ability to maintain relationships, but that for centuries they have inhabited a world of men, where masculinity was derived fome bravery, the ability to endure pain and the length of one's beard. Either you were a man or you weren't. PAthans have no tolerance for ambiguities of other cultures, as life in such barren, sterile and impossible conditions, both physically and culturally, made that impossible. Friendships between men took on archetypal qualities.
Anyways, my point is the character of the Afghani is utterly foreign to western sensibilities, and is roughly analgous to looking at tribal cultures in Africa, who also commit great (or greater) atrocities. The difference, of course, is that they are not seen as atrocities by those commiting them, as they adhere to a tribal ethos that has often existed for generations, if not Centuries. So, while obviously, regrettable, any solution to this problem requires more than the juxtaposition of western value-judgements and punishments, as they would be misunderstood and problematic to any pragmatic solution.
There is also the meddling of Pakistan and the importation of more ideologically extreme Islam into Afghanistan (like the taliban) for political purposes, but I have already written too much. Suffice to say, Afghanistan has existed with it's isolated system of informal, tribal, feudal governance for Centuries, and is likely to continue that way.
Just food for thought, please draw your own conclusions...
Thank you for a very informed and informative exposition. I especially liked: "Friendships between men took on archetypal qualities": it's a wonderfully resonant statement, but I'm still trying to work out exactly what you meant!
sorry. Typical me...long on exposition, short on point. I just wanted to point out the unique character of Afghani Culture to provide a more accurate prism in viewing activities over there. In a Culture so male-dominated and tribal, it is not surprising that:
a. Things like this happen
b. That most Afghanis don't care
This goes to prove the larger point of the fallacy of our (US) efforts to export "freedom,liberty and democracy". It's like putting a street kid from Lagos on a Debate team...it may seem like a good idea to us, and make us feel better about ourselves, but it doesn't mask the fact that the kid is both unprepared and probably doesn't want to be there in the first place. To take it one step further, you may do him a diservice by highlighting his obvious incapacity for the task, which may make him resent both the endeavor and those who brought him to it.
Thanks, blackfox. Very helpful.
Odd how cultures can be so different, in similar physical circumstances. In the western U.S. during the post-Civil War era, living conditions were pretty doggoned harsh and difficult. Yet, women on our frontier were pretty much revered. Even the worst bad guys rarely got out of line when women were around.
Are you sure about that?
Didn't you know rape is a relatively new crime? Didn't exist back in the good old days when women were revered. In fact, they were revered so much that they were disallowed from voting as their opinion was too valuable to have it count for something.
Nevertheless, I think I know what 'Rat was trying to say about the lack in the current generation of the importance of behaving differently around women. Different culture, different time.