THE DANCE |
November 20, 2006
Posting date: 11/20/06
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: armysailor.com
We finished building a school today. It is one of many schools we have built throughout Afghanistan. Locals come to the ribbon cutting, everyone seems very pleased. Next week, the Taliban will burn the school. A week or two later we will repair it. Such is the dance.
The Afghan people are stuck in a strange situation. On one hand are the Coalition Forces. We do good things, try to help them, and try to make their country a better place. Our ultimate goal is to see Afghanistan become a functional citizen of the global village. The people see the good we do, and most appreciate it. Most want more. However, I cannot blame those who would rather we weren't here. After all, if there were Afghan soldiers in the streets of Philadelphia I'd be pretty displeased, no matter how much good they might be doing. No one wants foreign fighters in their country.
On the other hand you have the Taliban. The Taliban are a bunch of brutish thugs who impose a quasi-religious oppression of the people. In the name of God they strip their own people of their personal freedoms. The harsh reality is that they don't do it for God, but rather to keep themselves in power. The very methods they use are contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an. The vast majority of Afghans do not seem to support the Taliban, at least not in their hearts, but are sometimes forced to show their support.
I have a somewhat unique perspective on the plight of the Afghan people, as I grew up poor and in the inner city. The Americans are like the police, and the Taliban are common thugs. The residents don't like the thugs, but dare not oppose them or stand up to them for fear of reprisals, and the police seem ineffective. The fact is that, for generations of Afghans who have never known a life better than the one they have, it is hard to understand that lasting change does not happen quickly. It is hard to ask a man who has not realized the dream of freedom to be willing to lay down his life for that dream.
It is a most perilous and delicate situation that this country finds itself in, one which must be approached with a great deal of care. What worries me is that the world (especially America) is distracted. High-ranking officials in the UK seem to be damning our efforts in Afghanistan to inevitable failure, and the Canadians are calling for a withdrawal of their forces...The United States republic (arguably an empire) of the early 21st century will be judged in history by the actions it takes right now. Let's hope that our citizens will pressure their representatives to make the right decisions.