Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lemon: Whence Afstan

Peggy Wente has an interesting piece in the Globe yesterday. She interviews "Rory Stewart", someone seemingly unbiased politically, but very aware of the staus went, quo and possible in Afghanistan.
His conclusion (my summary) is that Afstan is a country just out of the stone age, with a population having no awareness or interest in democracy.
In Mr. Stewart's view, there's not much difference between the illusions of the American neo-cons (who imagined that once Iraq embraced democracy the rest of Middle East would follow suit) and the illusions of the enlightened policy consultants and aid workers from CIDA or the UN. "Colonial administrations may have been racist and exploitative," he writes. "But they did at least work seriously at the business of understanding the people they were governing."
The thing is, does the impossibility of trying to compress two centuries of societal evolution mean that this war should not be fought or a rush to civilization not attempted?

An argument can be made on continuance based on two factors. (a) It is far better to confront and tie Al Qaida's and the Taliban's shorts in knots in Khandahar than in Kitchener or Kansas, and (b) it is valuable to not allow Afstan to act as a save haven and grad school for terrorists.
We need to stay there for this, if for no other reason.

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