Sunday, September 9, 2012

Interesting new report on the Taliban

Not required reading, but recommended for Env. Sust, since we will undoubtedly touch on and talk about Islam, militant Islam, and the Taliban (which are three different things and in fact more than three because of all the differences between groups), in the context of geopolitics, energy and climate. The report implies that with changing politics within the Taliban, a settlement is possible in Afghanistan, one that would institute a form of Islamic government, but not one with which the majority of westerners would find too much fault -- so perhaps not as repressive as Iran, for instance.

Is this acceptable? How would you know or find out, given the limited knowledge of the outside world and Islamic culture that is typical for American college students and even most voters? Wouldn't it violate American ideas of human rights? What are the alternatives? Twenty more years of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan?

Some context: The authors are the Royal United Services Institute, a UK "think tank" closely linked to the military and intelligence services, including the "top brass," as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (equivalent of the State Department), and major "Russell Group" universities.

I think of them as wicked smart, but being British and a former British serviceman, I'm biased. They are certainly within the mainstream of NATO thinking. There will, however, be a substantial number of US junior officers, especially evangelical Christian ones, who mightily disagree with the implications of this report. Think about that difficulty, too.

(Evangelical Christian officers are not mainstreamed to NATO, but they are a major sub-group within the US military.)


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