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Robert Spencer: Misson Unaccomplished

July 6, 2011

Yesterday in Human Events, Robert Spencer ( laid out an excellent article on the failure of mission in Afghanistan.  The article is here, and my thoughts are below.

“American troops are leaving, having accomplished little or nothing in terms of establishing a stable and democratic government in Afghanistan, despite the loss of thousands of lives of noble and courageous American military personnel who deserved better from those in command, and the wanton waste of billions of dollars.  The Taliban, toppled from power eight years ago, is still a potent force.  The Taliban is so strong that even President Hamid Karzai has made overtures to it, as has Obama.  Eight years after it was toppled from power, its claim of Islamic authenticity strongly resonates with the Afghan people…”

In the wake of the attack on the International Hotel in Kabul, it is hard to ignore the point that U.S. aspirations in Afghanistan are quite divergent from those of the Afghan people and government.  The business school decision to announce troop withdrawal has met with a military response by the Taliban. 

George W. Bush oversaw the implementation of an Afghan Constitution that enshrined Islamic law as the highest law of the land.  Yet Islamic law is nothing like the democratic principles that Bush had taken us into Afghanistan to defend (over here) and establish (over there).  Sharia institutionalizes the oppression of women and non-Muslims, extinguishes the freedom of speech, and denies the freedom of conscience.

Was that what we were fighting for?

There continues to be a massive disconnect, mainly in the West, over the differences between Islamic Law (Shari’ah) and democratic principles.  As long as politicians and leaders stand in front of microphones calling Islam a “religion of peace”, the U.S. will continue to make foreign policy errors in the Middle East.  Likewise, the American people will continue to be confused as to why we are fighting to establish something that is completely counter to our ideals, as a nation.

Two successive U.S. administrations have now pursued futile and disastrous policies in Afghanistan and elsewhere because they are wedded to the unexamined dogma that Islam is a “religion of peace,” and that believing Muslims want Western-style free societies.  They have foolishly disregarded the nature of Islam as a political system as well as a religion, and never considered the likelihood that most Afghans would reject the idea of a secular government, free elections and equality of rights for all people as a blasphemous rejection of the way that a proper Islamic society should be ordered.

Much like the 2,000+ page healthcare mess, I doubt that many people in either administration have really delved into the true nature of Islam.  If they did, they were ignored, pigeonholed, or shunted off as a kook.  Now who’s the kook?

It’s time not just to bring the troops home from their foredoomed mission, but to begin a searching and encompassing reevaluation of all our national policies regarding Islam and Islamic states.

This final phrase is the linchpin, the crux, of what needs to happen in U.S. foreign policy today.  American leaders need to begin to understand, and to listen, to what is being said by the leaders of Islamic states, and what is being said by their spiritual leaders, as well.  Until then, we will continue to lose sons, fathers, brothers, and uncles, in combat for ideals that do not mesh with the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality.

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