The War Against Terrorism: The Taliban in Afghanistan
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Defining the Issue
Terrorism is translated to mean ‘army in the shadows’ and is defined as the threat or use of violence to win certain rewards or goals ( Dictionary.com, 2010). The earliest known Terrorist organization similar to those of today was the Zealots of Judea, formed when fanatics of the Jewish faith revolted against the of the Roman oppression. They carried on an underground campaign wherein they assassinated Roman occupation forces and Jews that they believed had collaborated with the Romans. However, the first time that the word ‘terrorism’ was used was during the French Revolution which is referred to as the ‘Reign of terror’. During this time the Jacobins who ruled with violence at that time, would sometimes refer to themselves as ‘terrorists’ (terrorism-research.com). Since then, there have been other leaders and people seeking power using terrorism as a weapon. These include the Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler, a man responsible for the murder of over 6 million people.
The Taliban itself took control of Afghanistan in 1996 and were in power until 2001. During this time however, they were not accepted by the world’s community because their policies were considered intolerable, primarily regarding their treatment of women and their support of Terrorism. They were removed from power in 2001 by America when they refused to give up Al Quada leader Osama bin Laden, who they were protecting after the 9/11 attacks (for which they were responsible). The members of the Taliban were one of the mujahidin (‘holy warriors’ or ‘freedom fighters’) groups that formed during the War against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, led by a man by the name of Mullah Muhammad Omar. During their time in power they put heavy restrictions on women, treating them more like objects than human beings. The Taliban also closely supported terrorism, as they allowed terrorist organizations to run training camps in their territory and from 1994 until just after the September 11 attacks, provided refuge and funding for bin Laden and his Al-Quada organization. Though they were so strict on the people of Afghanistan, the Taliban however profited from smuggling operations (mostly electronics) and through the cultivation of opium.
Already here the hypocrisy and wickedness of this group is clearly seen. God has told us not to give in to violence; that it is not an answer and He has also said that women should be honored rather than treated as objects. It is clear that the Taliban have given in to their human natures and doing what is right in their own eyes. In many ways they are a tool in the hands of the devil.
Many people have thought the main reason for Terrorism in the country of Afghanistan is because of the Islam religion. It must be clarified that this is not the view of the Afghan people themselves, but of the Al-Quada who believe, as bin Laden, does that the term ‘Jihad’ as it is used in the Qur’an, is synonymous with ‘holy war’, implying that Muslim’s are “to engage in a religiously sanctioned battle against Americans and other Western peoples” (Islam, Lauri S. Friedman, 2008). However, the more conservative followers of this religion believe something very different.
According to this group, “Islam is the religion of moderation and tolerance that abhors the terrorists who kill innocents in Islam’s name, even as Islam is innocent of such crimes” (Friedman, 2008). In addition to their religion it is debated whether the Muslim afterlife also inspires certain Muslims to become terrorists. Suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam, but martyrdom is highly encouraged and believed to be richly rewarded. However, as reporter Marilyn Karfeld says, “If suicide bombers were motivated solely to become martyrs and go to heaven, they would stand in front of Israeli tanks” (Friedman, 2008).
Afghanistan’s history does not help the problem either. Since the 1200’s, Afghanistan has had no peace. Starting with the Mongolian invasion, war after war has followed. The Soviet invasion in 1979 led to more war when many groups of mujahedeen warriors tried to throw them from power, and finally the Taliban succeeded. For the people of Afghanistan, this is the only life that they know and it has led to the attitude of violence and thus terrorism being normal and justified.
As a result of all of these factors, Afghanistan is a country with a poor economy, a high unemployment rate and the people in it live every day with the threat of war and violence. This is not the way that God wanted people to live and it is a very difficult, almost impossible environment for evangelists to bring Gods Word into. Although the Taliban has been removed from power and America has intervened in Afghanistan, they still continue to exist, hiding away in secret being supported mostly by Pakistan. Despite America’s efforts, the Afghan economy is still suffering and there is still much violence; much of it caused by the fact that it is very difficult to tell who is a member of the Taliban since they dress the same way as everyone else and can blend right into the Afghan community.
The Taliban is not the only terrorist group contributing to the problem. Al-Quada, meaning ‘the base’ are very closely related to the Taliban and very active in their acts of violence. Speaking after the 9/11 attacks, Al Quada leader, bin Laden said, “On blessed Tuesday September 11, 2001….. They launched their attacks with their planes in an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any humankind before them”.
So through the affects it has had on Afghanistan and the entire world it is made clearly apparent that Terrorism must be stopped altogether.
Patterns of Physical geography affecting the Issue
Afghanistan is located in South-Central Asia and shares a border with Pakistan. This is significant because of Afghanistan’s close relationship with Pakistan. Up until the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan provided both military and financial assistance to the Taliban. Many of the Taliban leaders were educated in refugee camps in Pakistan, having fled there for safety during the more violent times. More than that, many of the Taliban’s members came from Pakistan or had lived there for a time. Because of the two countries nearness, they shared multiple trade and economic ties on top of similar history, religion, culture, linguistic and ethnic ties.
Recently, a Taliban cave network was found in Pakistan. It consisted of 156 caves carved into sheer rock. It was discovered that it served as a militant headquarters and a defensive complex used for training until troops overran the compound. Members of the Taliban know the mountains well, as these caves show, using them for protection, having the ability to disappear if they are being pursued (telegraph.co, 2010).
Afghanistan’s natural resources also contribute, especially concerning the Opium cultivation. Narcotics trafficking is supporting the Taliban. This problem is incredibly momentous considering that Afghanistan provides 90% of the World’s opium supply, plus most of the heroin to European countries (shanghaidaily.com, 2010).
The poverty within Afghanistan is also due to poor land. Because farmers are poor to begin with, they cannot afford good seed, higher yielding varieties of seed or fertilizers or pesticides that can help the land and the value of the crop. It is often difficult then for farmers to support themselves and they must often look to other jobs on the side (cfr.org).
Patterns of Human Geography affecting the Issue
The people of the Islamic faith believe that the country of Israel should belong to them since it has spiritual significance in the way they worship. This was the place, they believe, where Muhammad rose up to heaven (inisrael.com). America supports and provides protection for Israel which is part of the reason for the terrorist’s hatred for America. The fact that America has taken control of their country makes terrorists hate them even more. The terrorists are now saying it is America who is practicing terrorism because they have no right to be taking control over their country.
Without a trading relationship with America as a result; combined with their poverty, dry land, and war-torn state, Afghanistan must then look to other countries for support and resources. Again the Taliban’s illegal activities come into affect since opium sales and smuggling operations fund the Taliban. In a country where even the government was corrupted, and a culture of violence is promoted, it is hard to avoid problems. Since the Taliban’s fall from power, America has tried to find a way to stop them, but since the Taliban still receive support in Pakistan, it is very difficult to control and capture them if they can cross over the border.
With the Taliban funding itself through the drug trade, more people are affected. With the availability of drugs comes the temptation to use them, so as a result many lives have been corrupted. The same is true about the religion Islam; though Afghanistan is supposed to be a religious country, the Taliban has taken religion and twisted it, which has made many Afghan people reject their religion.
Cause and Effect Relationships affecting the whole planet
The Taliban and Al-Quada’s hatred for America eventually led to the bombing of the World trade center which shocked the entire world. Talking about it later, Osama bin Laden says, “We swore that America wouldn’t live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel’s interests above its own people’s interest. America won’t get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel”(Jamieson,Alison, 2008). Terrorists say now that these attacks will continue until America draws out of Israel. Now, because of America’s troop presence in Afghanistan, there is a push to attack them. The Taliban threatens another attack since America has refused to give up its protection of Israel. As to the belief that Americans are the ‘real’ terrorists, former President G. Bush has said, “We do not create terrorism by fighting terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them.” (Alison Jamieson, pg. 30). The reason that America has spent millions of dollars and sent thousands of troops into Afghanistan to help to reduce the violence is also an effect resulting from the destructive work of the Taliban. These acts of violence also show to the world the disastrous works of the devil, as he schemes ways to direct people away from God and wreak havoc an the earth. It is difficult for people living in these situations to trust in a loving God who is directing all their ways. The state of Afghanistan today is a representation of the depravity of man and what happens when God is not kept in sight.
Effects on the Environment and People
As a result of Terrorism within Afghanistan, it has become a violent and war-torn country, with constant struggles and fighting between the Taliban and American troops. The Afghan people are filled with hatred and fear, with an absence of peace and stability in the countries economy. The people no longer know who they should trust. The children in this country have grown up with violence so in turn they become violent. They have never known anything different.
The Taliban’s violence has been directed also at women, having a tight control on them and turning Afghanistan into a very male dominated culture with great inequality between the sexes. In fact, women are hardly treated like people but rather like objects. The women of Afghanistan are forced to wear long burqas in the hot weather, banned them from going for a walk, working outside of the home, going to school, leaving the home without a male relative or even wearing nail polish ( infoplease.com,2007). It is clear that they are not given any of the rights prescribed to men, are controlled and told what to do in every area of their lives. Reports of rape and abuse are incredibly common and are very rarely dealt with by Afghanistan police. In fact, the Afghan government has taken away a women’s right to say no to sexual intercourse (care2.com, 2010). In this way Afghanistan has turned into a godless and idolatrous nation.
The Islamic religion, as a result of this has also become twisted and distorted. Serious unemployment and poverty has resulted with the rise of the Taliban, dropping the already low employment rates. The money that was brought in during the Taliban’s leadership was used to fund the Taliban rather than improve and provide for the needs of the people. Though the employment rates have risen since the fall of the Taliban, unemployment is still a significant problem within Afghanistan. The Taliban has also not put much effort at all towards dealing with the civil way so as a result this still continues today.
Not only are people in Afghanistan affected, but around the world (though primarily in America) people grieve the loss of the 3,000 loved ones who died as results of the September 11 attacks. Many people are also scared of more attacks, as expressed by Parvez Ahmed, “Today, we all live in fear of terrorism. Equating terrorism with Islam makes the mainstream Muslim community doubly vulnerable” (Friedman, 2008). After Afghanistan refused to give up bin Laden and other Al-Quada members, subsequent bombing by America took place resulting in the death of 3,500 civilians which adds greatly to the Afghan’s distrust of American’s. The whole 9/11 ordeal led to increased security in many areas; as a result airports have now tightened their security, having planned to use full body and pat down searches as regular routines. Organizations have formed to prevent terrorism. Bomb squads have been created and people are generally more careful. This means also that the Muslim people have been stereotyped and thought of with great skepticism. Governments have had to change their definition of human right as they have a responsibility to protect the people but not in a way that undermines fundamental human rights standards (ohchr.org, 2009).
Since 2001 many solutions have been presented regarding terrorism in general and in piecing Afghanistan back together. Recently the U.S. has been thinking about ‘talking to the Terrorists’. General Davis Petreus supports talks with what he calls ‘reconcilable elements’ within the Taliban. He talks of the way they did this in the ‘Sunni Awakening’ which involved America paying the Iraqi’s who were attacking the U.S. after they invaded their country in 2003, to instead fight against Al-Quada and their allies(haaretz.com, 2010). However, it seems that although some say this is the only way to find peace, this could not happen without a compromise.
The first demand would be that America must first stop protecting Israel and draw their troops from Afghanistan. At the present, NATO ( North Atlantic Treaty Organization) have 34,000 troops in Afghanistan but many have said that in order for them to be effective, more are needed and they must commit to helping Afghanistan in the long term. This can be done by ensuring stability and continued development, as well as safety, for the Afghan people from the Taliban. Cooperation must be gained from Iran and India and borders must be stabilized to keep militants from entering Afghanistan.
Since there is a large amount of troops in Afghanistan, deaths involving civilians are likely to occur and do not help America in winning over the Afghan citizen’s trust. Therefore, a financial compensation program should be set up for civilian deaths, injuries or property damage resulting from military operations in Afghanistan. At the present the Afghan people are used to not trusting the people in control, and so this will not change if America does nothing to build up and earn that trust. Obama has also recently proposed a plan for a solution. A way to summarize his plan is building up while destroying. He has proposed sending over an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to aid the long war against Afghanistan, centering in on the Al-Quada and denying them a safe haven (news.bbc.co.uk, 2010). In short, he wants to take out the violence and problems in the economy fast and then withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2011.
However, there are some major flaws in this plan; first of all, a planned date for withdrawal from the country gives the Taliban a reason to go underground until the American’s leave. Secondly, Obama has been reluctant to give the money needed in order to fund this program, and finally; he is not sending enough troops as was calculated in order to be rid of the problem. Others believe that we should withdraw help from Afghanistan entirely as the progress seems to be minimal compared to the amount of effort and money going into it and it is believed that this could be used better elsewhere.
Contrary to this however, the work America is doing in Afghanistan seems to be holding everything in check, and taking this check away would result in chaos. It must be remembered that though these terrorists are performing evil works of violence, and are in the clutches of the devil, we cannot hate them but instead hate the sin that has ensnared them to do such terrible things. At the same time, the people responsible for these acts must be held accountable and justice must be served by the hands that God has appointed to do so.
The correct way to handle this problem is by doing the following: Since the Taliban relies on the drug trade through the cultivation of opium and heroin; a focus should be placed on finding where this is grown and ceasing control over the cultivation. At the moment the drug trade is making up 50% of the countries’ economy, and so Afghanistan is on its way to becoming a Narco- state (Friedman, 2009). This is supporting the Taliban and helping to fuel the growing insurgence. The Afghan police and counter narcotic forces are not adequately equipped for the job and so NATO must assume a counter- drug mission. To help solve this problem also, the west should guarantee Afghanistan above market prices for wheat over 10 years. If they would buy unlimited quantities of wheat from Afghan farmers through an official marketing system it is then likely that these farmers would switch from growing poppies for the production of opium and instead grow wheat. Doing this would also undercut the appeal that the Taliban have for Afghanistan’s people and would help to build up the countries economy.
More troops should also be sent, but on a more long term plan. These troops should work to stabilize borders, especially the 1,600 mile frontier that Afghanistan shares with Pakistan in order that the Taliban would be unable to run for protection over this border. These extra troops should also be used to launch a strong and forceful attack against the Taliban and Al-Quada. By taking them by surprise and overcoming them by sheer force, the problem should and could be eradicated once and for all. America should then maintain military support in Afghanistan until the nation is stable and then gradually withdraw their support. As Gavin Proudly, UK terrorism expert says, “Overall, I think that the most suitable methods of beating global terrorist movements are through extremely good intelligence, effective and clear law enforcement structures with strong international cooperation, but also, unfortunately, some military measure in places were law enforcement structures are effective” (Friedman, 2008).
With regard to the Muslim religion, radical Islamists should be brought down and made to realize that the Qur’an does not teach the truth. As Christians we should work to bring seeds of true faith into a place that despises it. This may seem impossible to do but it is what we are called to do just as it was done by Christ’s apostles. In a way, defeating terrorism is not as much that which we do but the attitude with which we do it; in the words of Brian. M. Jenkins, U.S. terrorism expert, “Our most effective defense against terrorism will not come from surveillance, concrete barriers, metal detectors, or new laws. It will come from our own virtue, our courage, our continued dedication to the ideals of a free society” (Jamieson, pg. 25).
The solution I have proposed as a successful one would be highly costly, especially regarding the number of troops that should be sent and the idea of the West offering Afghanistan above market prices for grain for ten years. However, in the long run it would be a less costly method than for the American troops to go on as they are and make little progress while using a lot of money. While this is a lot of money, it is possible to get all those countries interested in helping Afghanistan to contribute as a combined political effort might work. This solution also proposes a method that could take place over a short number of years, and then slowly building up the economy. In this way the Afghan people will be able to experience peace soon.
The outcomes of this solution could be both positive and negative. It is very possible that civilians may be killed in the strike against the Taliban. It is also possible that the Taliban and Al-Quada may launch a powerful counter attack at the United States. On the other hand however, the problem of terrorism may be severely lessened. The Taliban could be eradicated and Osama bin Laden could finally be killed with the Al-Quada crippled. The country of Afghanistan could then be free to build up its economy and experience peace and prosperity.
Terrorism has been affecting Afghanistan and the World for centuries and it is time that rigorous measures are taken to put an end to it and solve the problem of violence for political cause throughout the World. With much work it is still possible to overcome the clutches of the Taliban, free the Afghan people of their hate and violence, and bring God into the land of Afghanistan.
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