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A QUESTION OF HONOR: WHY THE TALIBAN FIGHT AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.
The writer recalls his encounter with an old Afridi tribesman while he was at the Khyber Pass. The tribesman pointed an invincible riffle at a path where the English soldiers had passed in 1919. He was referring to this as a bad position because the English soldiers had actually lost their third war in Afghanistan which was ultimately going to be their last war. The friend to the old Afridi tribesman however thought that this was a good position and it was the right path that the England soldiers took. This was because it led them to their loss in the war and on the other hand, it granted the then Afghanistan leader Nadir Khan victory in the war. Nadir Khan emerged victorious in Kabul because of the mistake made by the England soldiers. However, the Old tribesman goes ahead to tell his colleague that it was not a good position currently. He says this having lowered his head and shaking it in dismay. The narrator seeks to find out why he feels this way. He gets the answer from the two who claim that ever since Kabul was removed from his throne in 1929, it has not been the same. It has been too calm as the people of Kabul are under a bad leadership and they do not have the freedom to express themselves anymore. The old man is thus regretting why the people cannot stand up and rebel against the leadership that has been imposed on them.
The narrator tells how Afghanistan used to be a cool and serene place where he had even got the idea of looking for a future research site. Nothing in his mind ever imagined that this region would be ablaze in the coming thirty years. It was a quiet place which had got gasoline stations, as he had been shown on a map given to him by his friend. The odd reactions of the old Afridi tribesman about how the place had become all quiet and peaceful showed that he was willing to fight for his opportunity to become independent and regain his rights once again. His fighting would have a cause behind it and thus would be considered to be just. This is among the reasons why the Taliban still fight. They want to reclaim what was initially theirs to begin with.
From Iran, the narrator headed into Herat, the ancient City of Aria. Here, the Persian population Genghis Khan had almost been exterminated in 1221. This region may not have had the value of cultural patrimony but at least they could boast of cultural independence. Herat is famous for the uprising that happened in the year 1979. The people of Herat rose up to fight against the Soviets in 1979. In this incident, thirty-five Russian advisers were killed by the people of Herat. In retaliation to this incident, the Afghan communists launched an attack on Herat. They were backed up by the Red Army and in this war nearly twenty five thousand civilians of Herat were killed. This bad blood still exists between Afghanistan and Herat. From Herat, the narrator moves on to a city known as Mazar-e-Sharif. Here, the Northern alliance took the City in 2001 with massive killings of civilians. No one has paid for these killings yet because of the influence of the United States as those who carried out these killings were allies to the U.S government.
The Taliban had joined forces with the Al Qaeda to fight back the United States. They did this all in the name of protecting their country from the invaders. However as the writer puts it there is a way that the United States can stop them from fighting. The United States is giving the Taliban offers to quit their corporation with the Taliban and instead. They are trying to persuade the Taliban to cut their ties in Al Qaeda. In convincing them, they offer some guarantee that the Afghan President Hamid Karzai will not be killed when it is all over and the United States military leave. The Taliban need a person to unite them because they are interested in the best for their homeland. They are not interested in global Jihad. Thus they will discard support for anyone who interferes with their peaceful lifestyle, in this case the Al Qaeda who wage war, and support the person who brings their community together, and this is where the United States gets an edge.
THE TERROR SCARE: EXAGGERATING THREATS AT HOME AND ABROAD
The narrator introduces us to the story of a woman who is standing by the roadside waving an umbrella. When approached by a curious onlooker and asked why she is doing whatever it is that she is doing, she looks at the onlooker and tells him that she is doing so in order to keep the pink elephants away. The onlooker tries to get her to know that there is no such thing as pink elephants, and she responds that they do not exist because she keeps them away by waving her umbrella. The pink elephant fallacy story was a classical example of the simplest failure of the critical thought. It is a fallacy that has been used by the narrator to describe the United States troops that have been taken to Afghanistan and Iraq to stop the terror war.
The narrator tells us about the common story that everybody gets concerning the war in Afghanistan. We are always told that the United States troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are present there to keep the Al Qaeda from launching attacks to the United States. Those who are against the United States war on Afghanistan and Iraq may argue that there is no evidence that the Al Qaeda right now has got what it takes to plan an attack on the United States soil. The answer that they get to this argument is that, the Al Qaeda cannot do so precisely because the United States is there to prevent them from doing so. This is the same fallacy as that of the pink elephant. The Unite States cannot withdraw from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq because of other hidden agendas and so they hide behind the notion of preventing a war that is not even there to begin with.
The United States has always echoed the threat that the Al Qaeda pose to their nation in exaggerated manners. President Obama echoed the words of President Bush which claimed that the Al Qaeda were the greatest threat to the United States with their terrorist network. The narrator however seeks to understand just how big these terrorist threats are. The 9/11 attacks were without a doubt massive murderers attacks which caused major casualties in the United States. However, it did not have a huge effect on the American government. If anything, the major effect of the war has been caused by the steps that the government took in responding to the attacks. The government continued to place their focus on wiping out the threat by using its might in the weapon mastery, thus causing even more casualties. They do this instead of containing the problem while seeking advice from others who have handled such issues much better.
The narrator proceeds to insist that the contemporary terrorism cannot destroy the United States. However, by taking the terrorists’ bait and react in a violent manner, the United States does harm to itself. The enemies are empowered, the friends of the U.S are alienated and the citizens are thrown into a fright mode of believing that they have got to give up their basic liberties if at all they are to survive. This is the biggest mistake that the United States makes. Exaggerating a situation that is not even there to begin with and thus making it e huge problem than it initially was. According to the narrator, the terrorist networks grow because of the attention that they are given and how they are reported to be strong, well equipped and dangerous. The United States should stop showing these exaggerations if they are looking into stopping these terrorists or containing them.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: IMAGINED KIN, FRIENDSHIP AND TEAMWORK
In this chapter, the narrator introduces the concept of the oath that the people in the armies are usually under. To be together with an individual in the war requires you to be able to trust them with you life and the same applies to them. You are always looking out for your brother who has become part of your family because of the mission that both of you are going to engage in together. This oath means that one has to protect their own. The members of the Harkat Ul-Mujahedin for example have been under oath to Jihad. They are a Pakistan Affiliate of the world of Islamic front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders. This is a group that was formed by Osama Bin laden in 1998 to offer a group that would be willing to do anything to protect their own. Thus, the oath that they swear to makes them look after their own while at the same time looking at the others as though they were not human beings. The co-operation within armies and empires or states has got absolutely nothing to do with the kin. It is all about the new alliances that one makes.
The narrator believes that the Al Qaeda functions in this way. It functions mainly as characterization of the hidden sense. The group acts in evil ways to those who oppose it and merciless war on them. For those who adopt the Al Qaeda methods however, they protect them as their own and treat them as family. The narrator uses another example of the new world order of protecting your own by describing the gangs in Los Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods. The members of the Crips will not pronounce the letter ‘C’ no matter what because of the hatred that they possess for them. The case is the same for the Bloods. The members of these gangs will do anything to protect their own. They would risk their own lives just to save that of a fellow ‘brother’ from the same gang. For such environs, it is either one choses a side to stick with or simply stay away from such areas.
The narrator emphasizes on the now basic psychology of ‘us versus them’ that has gotten into people. This is the same story when the groups are competing for a territory. Whether it is an ethnical, national, religious or cultural group, the idea is applied. However, the problem with this is that the stakes are too high and can eventually lead to war. Despite knowing this, most of the members of these gangs are still willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect their own. It is this notion that has led to the massive growth of the Al Qaeda network as they go under oath and swear to protect their own. The United States has tried so hard to negotiate with the Al Qaeda to get them to stop the terrorist attacks but their efforts are futile because of what these Soldiers believe in. The Al Qaeda see the United States as an enemy who is trying to wipe them out by the war that they launched against them in Iran and Afghanistan. Thus they do all that it takes to protect themselves from the United States and their most common course of action is usually waging war on the United States and its allies (Atran, 2010).
What is the meaning of Jihad?
The narrator seeks to explain the meaning of Jihad, otherwise known as the holy war. Jihad has been considered by the Muslim as one of the Islamic dignified principles. These principles place emphasis on the value of reciprocal treatment. If a person shows an intention of killing you or doing harm on you, you should do the same for him or her. In Jihad, the soldiers believe that they fight for dignity, protecting their nation and looking out for their religion. They believe in what has been inscribed in the Koran that their god Allah will bless those who are killed by the enemy as well as those who kill the enemy. This is the high principle that these Soldiers live with.
They believe that their god Allah has asked them to be good to anyone who does not raise a hand to pose a danger to them. They can live together with the Christians and the Jews provided that they are peaceful and they have got respect for each other. However, when it comes to countries such as France which does not allow the Muslim women to wear veils to school, it shows disrespect to the Muslim religion. Other religions like the Israelites kill the women and the children in war. The teachings and commands from Allah as communicated by the prophets do not allow this. Thus there is a holy war against the Israelites because of their own actions.
Can there ever be peace with Israel?
Because of the war that the Muslims have lodged on the Israelites, the narrator seeks to find out whether this will ever come to an end. There is a possibility of a provisional truce to this ten year war. However, there could never be real peace. Israel withdrew from the borders in the year 1967 and there was the return of the refugees. However, to the Muslims, that was the minimum that they could accept. The Israelites do not show any signs of leaving the land belonging to the Muslims. Because of this, the Muslims have sworn to continue fighting the Israelites until the day that they will withdraw to the 1967 borders (Atran, 2010).
The Narrator tells of his encounters with the families and friends of the suicide bombers in Jabaliyah refugee camp. These residents of Jabaliyah have been talking of getting rid of the Jews by staging a comeback to push them back to the borders at the seas. The narrator is delighted at how the children sprang from school to return to Jabaliyah looking all excited and bringing some life to the camp that was so quiet initially. A senior Hamas organizer in this camp sees him smiling and asks him why he is doing so. When he tells him his reason, the man goes ahead to tell the narrator that they can never be able to smile. This will be so until they take back their land from the Israelites. He says that when looking at the children, unless they rescue them from the Israelites, all he sees is martyrs. They will do anything in their quest to protect their religion no matter the consequence that they face. This shows the depth that the Jihad war has been inflicted in the Muslim communities, from the adults down to the children, this war will not end anytime soon with people willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their religion.
WORDS TO END WARS: THE SCIENCE OF THE SACRED
The narrator tells of the news that came in from Gaza in Mid January 2009. More than a thousand Palestinians were left dead in this war and many more left wounded. Hundreds of the Hamas fighters also became casualties of death. Women and children also became casualties in the war. The Israelites could not handle the idea of them being rocketed from the air. Thus, they retaliated and as a result, they did not gain peace. Across the Muslim world, the narrator conducted interviews and the common thought that he got was that the Palestine was considered the mother of all the problems. Palestine has been in the forefront of conducting these wars by having so many of its loyalties participate in the martyr bombings. They do this believing that they are fighting for what is right according to their religion. This has come out as a testament for the religious nature that has had its influence in this conflict (Atran, 2010).
Across the world however, the belief about war is different. People believe that devotion to sacred values in the community or the cultural values being practised are supposed to be without violence. Violence does not breed any form of good for those practising it as well as those on the receiving end. The research done by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defence has shown that people have now become more ware of the consequences of these wars and they are now standing up against it. The research has shown that people are now not willing to receive the material compensation from any group or movement to make them commit these acts of injustice against their fellow neighbours. Among the Palestinians and the Israelites, there still exist those who do not see the need to give up their fight for what they believe is the right thing to do. But as the narrator expresses in his story, this are very few currently. The majority of the citizens recognize that there is need for peace and that violence does not play any good for anybody.
Practise of the acts of terrorists in the Middle East cannot be expected to end just like that. However, as the narrator goes on to explain, this is slowly coming to end with the awareness that is being raised about the issue. Finally there are traces of peace and a common thought of unity in these countries that were very prone to grooming of terrorists. People are willing to do just about anything to get back peace as they have witnessed the extent of the casualties coming from the war.