Cross-posted from Terry Glavin
Seriously. There comes a point when you really have to wonder why Afghans are getting slagged off as the freakout-prone lunatics in the latest koran-burning rumpus, but not North American windbags across the spectrum from the hard-right to the pseudo-left.
“It’s happening a lot, and it’s really putting a lie to the idea that just being there training Afghans is somehow safe,” [the comical stoppist whiner Derrick] O’Keefe said. “It also, I think, indicates that overall the foreign presence is not wanted anymore and is resented.” In a pitch-perfect echo, here’s American Republican Gargoyle Newt Gingrich: “I would not risk the life of a single American. . . in a country whose religious fanatics are trying to kill us and whose government seems to be on the side of the fanatics.”
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon has actually (shock!) asked Afghan women what they think about the hullabaloo:
“Most people are more angry at the protesters than at the U.S. troops who did it,” said Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women. “One person actually said, ‘When the Taliban are blowing up schools or mosques, aren’t they burning the Quran? Mosques are filled with hundreds of copies of the Quran. How come no one is saying anything about this?’”
Here’s Wazhma Frogh of the Afghan Women’s Network: “Deeply sad for loss of ISAF and Afghan lives. All being done by enemies to make us abandoned again.” Here’s Afghan parliamentarian Fawzia Koofi: “I condemn the fact that there was a disrespect to my religion and to the Holy Quran, but I condemn also those who misuse and try to politicize any emotional feeling of my people. . . A few hundred people in the streets does not represent the Afghan nation.”
Here’s Abdul Ali Faiq, with the European Campaign for Human Rights in Afghanistan: “What happened at Baghram, this is not a concern for the 29 million people of Afghanistan. . . Most Afghans have their minds on other things. They say, why should we care?”
In the most recent Asia Foundation poll on Afghan public opinion, “foreign interference” is ranked at the very bottom of problems that worry Afghans: 1. Insecurity (38%) 2. Unemployment (23%) 3. Corruption (21%) 4. Poverty (12%), 5. Poor economy (10%), 6. Lack of education (10%), 7. The Taliban (8%), 8. Suicide attacks (8%) 9. Foreign interference (7%).
Most of Afghanistan is at peace. Afghan support for equal rights regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion is at 82%, and for equal educational opportunities for women it’s 85%. I would not be prepared to bet that support is that high among Canada’s so-called “anti-war” constituency, or in Newt Gingrich’s weird corner of the Republican Party.
Steve Coll, the Pulitzer-winning Washington Post journalist whose work on Afghanistan is indispensable, explains just how screwed up the Obama “exit strategy” is. Very much worth listening to: