Saturday, March 11, 2006

Afghanistan


My fascination with Afghanistan began in the 1970’s. Centuries ago Kabul was a cradle of civilization where Buddhists, Christians and Muslims mixed in every day life. Universities of higher learning existed in Kabul before Cartier sailed up the St Lawrence River. Tolerance and education is a small footnote in the timeline of Afghanistan. Its geographical location was an intersection where cultures have collided for over two thousand years.

Contrary to what some Afghan historians would have us believe, Afghanistan was not converted to Islam the moment the Prophet breathed the word. Conversion was a slow and brutal process that took a 1,000 years. So its history is interesting because it involves the unravelling of a highly sophisticated civilization. Kabul the once tolerant society existed before our ancestors had yet heard any word of Christianity.

A clash of cultures occurs today not through geography but through our communication technologies. There is a question of whether Canadians should be there or not. The answer for me depends on the mission. If we are there to fight a “War on Terrorism” then the mission is ill designed. If we are in Afghanistan with a small hope of creating the opportunity where tolerance can gain a small foothold then the mission is a noble one. A difficult mission that may succeed or fail. Our intentions define our nature. What is our intent?

BB

11 comments:

wild thing said...

Your way is a mission of peace. The contradiction is that peace requires warriors. I think. I would like to think not. There is so much healing to do.So much anger, so much rage, so much pain. True warriors should be peaceful within themselves. I don't mean meek. There are whole cultures with broken spirits. I wish we could forget about weapons of destruction. I wish we could love hate away.

Sorry BB I started my post apparently while you were writing. You beat me to it, which I noticed only when mine was posted. Oh well! Maybe my spirit of spring is a safe lead in to thinking about how best to decide what we need to bring to Afghanistan and other war troubled nations.

Xena said...

I think (therefore I am?) that most Canadians support and respect the decision to have troops in Afghanistan - it fits in well with our past history. It's an important mission. As for our soldiers, it's also a learning curve. It's a different demand we make of them than say, the troops stationed at bases in Germany, BB, when you visited there. They need a different outlook. Humility as well as bravado...

Xena (the princess WARRIOR) said...

PM Harper went to visit the boys in Afghanistan - good for him! He gets points from me - in spite of my red leanings...

cautious thing said...

One of the comments was that his visit there is not so much to encourage the soldiers, who are comfortable with their roll, as is. His main purpose is to convince Canadians at home that this is the right thing to do. There is a compain going on now to attract more young people into the forces. Promises of jobs and education. I am ill equipped to support opinions. My gut feeling is opposed and crinches.

Naive Thing said...

Hey, maybe u should be called cynical thing! U have no faith in the PM?????

Call me naive, but I'm going to choose to think that he went to find out for himself what it's like there - no leader should send troops without experiencing at least the setting himself or herself.

In politics, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I'd be more pissed off if he didn't go, regardless of his motivation. Even if it wasn't "pure", the experience must have affected him. Let's hope, huh?

netty said...

I have to think about it. I guess I am not a warrior but a scared little girl wanting war to go away. The conservatives have always stressed the militairy. I know Rudi, in spite of supporting N.D.P., praised the conservatives for putting money toward the militairy. He was in the reserve army. I always thought money should go to social programs, should support the healing of people. More weapons, more fighting, more destruction. How does that bring back a highly sophisticated civilazation? If indeed Canadians could bring about tolerance,if that is Stephen Harper's intent... if there could be a prevention of more demoralization... war is demoralizing... it brings out the worst in people... although in an other way it can bring out the best in people...what are the fights about? Stupid religion, stupid intolerance, power and money. I see Stephen Harper's face, talking about Canadians not drawing back...about duty and mission or so... I see soliers, young men (and women now too), on the front lines injured, dying, I see misery... I think, Go there yourself then, idiot, you puffy face! Maybe that's not fair...

Our world needs a whole new way of thinking. Somehow we seem not less barbaric then way back in history...

The only way I see is to do the best I can where I am. As is said: "Write about what you know", also means, do what you know...

Am I cynical? Yeah, maybe. Funny how on the news tonight they tried to analize cynical.

I guess I do not believe in the militairy. I never did. I think I never will. I say 'I think' because I know one should never say never...

When I think in the line of how society is, Stephen Harpers may make sense. If I think out of the box... the whole rigmarole is senseless and stupid.

Our world needs a whole new way of thinking...I think. I still need to do a lot of thinking. Or maybe following my intuition is sufficient.

My Mother said once to me, "When everybody refuses to fight there can be no war." Maybe that is naif, but it is nevertheless true.

X said...

"Good for the Prime Minister for actually visiting Afghanistan" - that thought in itself isn't a support of war - nor support of a particular party or policies.

My other thought is that politicians in themselves - even Conservative leaders - aren't necessarily bad people because they've chosen that field. Often they are good people trying to make a difference.

I agree that we need to think small as individuals - make our own personal world just and fair and better. Ripple effects...

In terms of money and military, what about rescue operations? Canada was one of the first teams down there to help with Katrina. But rescue on a grand scale - earthquakes, tsunamis, etc., even helping with the results of physical war - needs money. I'd like to see big bucks go to whatever it takes to make Canada's military role one of peacekeeping and helping - done in a way that doesn't jeopardize safe operations because the equipment is so old it doesn't work. Helicopters, etc., cost money. (Hey, remember those submarines we bought "on sale" and used?????).

Yes, I agree and support social programs. Canada does do a pretty good job with social programs comparable to other countries. That should continue. Job creation is important and so is health care.

The thing about Afghanistan is that it isn't Iraq - all military operations aren't equal.

netty said...

My father belonged to an organization, during the war, that wasn't militairy, but did provide help where needed. I wish I could talk about it more informed. But I forget a lot and can't even remember the name anymore. It was about aid, not weapons.

It's like when I remember the spirit of a book I read, still recall the feeling, but cannot provide facts.

In debates with my sister I often could not even stick a hair pin between her sound reasonings. Still I knew there was something wrong...

All the things you say are right. I come from a weak position in the way that I don't even try to be politcally informed. I don't read newspapers, just go by what I catch in the passing...

How can a man, who accepts people crossing the floor in parliament to be on the winning side, give up their values, principals, how can someone like that have everyone's best interest on mind? That seems to have nothing to do with what we are talking about, and yet, I think it has everything to do with it.

Isn't he about prestige and power himself? And I am not coming down on just this single man, who believes he does right, likely is a good husband and father and is brave to go to the place where he sends troops...

But can he really be a leader in the fight for justice?

You know, I am a turkey. When I first read Bob's stories about Afghanistan I didn't even know where that was. Iraq didn't at first ring a bell with me. For heaven's sake, I still had all the old geographical names in my head, the ones I learned in school Didn't keep much track of border shuffles and name changes. The only one I knew was "Instanbul is Constantinopel", cause it was a song. Remember I told you it took me two years before it hit me that there were no one dollar bills in circulation anymore?

So, I am uninformed in many ways. Talk from feelings and certain experiences more than from knowhow...but seem to somehow know within myself what's right and what not...

Oops I have to run. May continue this later if warranted.

netty said...

I made an efford in Niagara Falls, to like the high rise buildings for what they are. I made some foto's. There is certainly an art to building such structures and the brains behind it. So I tried to see them from that perspective and not think about what they replace. Not think about the loss of natural things. I once knew someone, who travelled all accross Canada on his bike and was a real nature person. He pointed out to me how, in a way, cities, structures, are nature too. It's natural to humans to use their brain to come up with the things they do.

Technology is wonderful. I think about that in the dentist chair when I get a tooth more replaced than fixed. And when I look at Bob Bamford, who's heart is good as new.

I do not regret money going to rescue operations and the travel and equipment that demands...

I am worried about loosing sight of why we spend that money, to help, to bring quality to life. Not quantity, greed, and hunger for power.

The thought of helping in Afghanistan is a good one. How good the motives are I am very iffy about. What about all those other places where there is suffering...

You know, this can go on for ever. I am not that good with words. I have a problem letting them help me get at the heart of what I would like to say... Sometimes words can be more of a distraction than a help. I think I want to leave Netty now and turn into wild thing again.

X said...

By any name, u do well with words. Surely u know that! And if u don't, well u should!!!! Consider all the positive feedback u get at editing circles, wt, in response to your writing and how u explain your thoughts.

hey, i'm off to the pisces party 2nite... u be a wild thing, i'll be a fish thing 4 the rest of the day (but not fishy...).

wild thing said...

Whatever aquarium you are going to, HAPPY SWIMMING !