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Afghanistan really hates us.

It is no secret that a good deal of my personal philosophy is rooted in principles of self-determination and such. So when I read this article in The Atlantic, "If Afghans Want to Reject the U.S. and Embrace Theocracy, That's Their Right", I was pleased as punch. That part of the article's title--"That's Their Right"--is philosophically delicious. In this article, Max Fisher argues that whatever path Afghans choose, regardless of whether it is "right" or "wrong", it is their right to make that choice, not ours.

This whole Afghan outrage itself may signal the end of our continued presence's justifcation. "If Afghans reject the international force then the most basic conceit of this decade-long war -- Westerners partnering with Afghans to rebuild their country -- will have collapsed, and the U.S.-led mission along with it." That analysis may sound rough-handed, I guess, but it's honest. Frankly, I agree with it.


See, I'm really not a fan of war. (Surprise!) The less it can be justified, the less I like a given military action (cf. war in Iraq). Now that it appears we're so unwanted, why the hell are we still there? I know many would immediately decry the resulting "threats" to international security if we left, but do such concerns really justify our continued involvement/meddling in an unwelcoming sovereign nation's affairs?

At this point, Fisher thinks, it's fairly evident that Afghans want us out, and that sentiment is increasingly finding expression in forces that can't easily be dealt with--or dismissed:
National self-determination -- a people's will to determine how their country is run -- is a force stronger than bombs or bullets or blast walls, as Arab leaders have learned in the past year, and as America may soon learn in Afghanistan. What Afghans want is more important than why they want it, and the past week of violence suggests that Afghans are rejecting the American-dominated foreign force.
Self-determination is a seductive, powerful, but sometimes dangerous force, as abusively & viciously demonstrated in the whole Bleeding Kansas saga of the 1850s. Here, popular sovereignty was ostensibly a more democratic solution to the then decades long feud between North and South, abolition and slavery; instead, intense passions and unruliness led to bloodshed and chaos. Any hope something fair, nevermind democratic, could come of that ethical premise was dashed to bits in that violent prequel to the Civil War.

There are other ways of picking at the applied ethics here. For one, there's plenty of room to argue exactly what "sovereign" means and whether Afghanistan is in any position to fit that definition--or claim to. Also, some could argue that Afghanistan is our mess and, thus, our responsibility.

I'm not convinced though that any of that qualifies disregarding what I consider more fundamental questions of individual liberty. Right now we've taken from the Afghans the right to choose for themselves on the basis of national security and alleged personal responsibility, but that still doesn't afford, in my mind, our continuing presence--especially as evidence mounts that they simply do not want us in their country.


Some might counter that the outrage we're seeing is merely isolated, if exaggerated; that this does not speak to some deeper resentment. It would be all too easy to dismiss the backlash we're seeing as the rages of the ignorant, and, with it, this article's premise. But Fisher refutes this by explaining the social and historical background of this incident's backlash--and believes it has been long in coming and runs deep.

I'm not sure I ever needed to be sold on this--it frankly doesn't surprise me. I would expect people in the Afghans' situation to be outraged; what does surprise me here is their anger hadn't exploded forth sooner.

Regardless, while perhaps not enough to force our immediate evacuation/eviction from Afghanistan, I think this entire thing should make us stop and question why we're still in there and whether we really feel those reasons justify making the Afghan people hate us more each day.


Though moderately defensible in comparison with pretty much everything in Iraq, the whole war in Afghanistan still leaves me uneasy and unnerved--largely by its execution as much as the questions of ethics. Personally, as an American, I am sorry for how things have turned out. All of it. Things could and should have been so much better than this. And I am ashamed it didn't.

What's also disquieting is the face on the effigy pictured in the article; it's not President Bush, who started it, but Obama, who's trying to end it. It's awful they've come to hate us so indiscriminately, but still not entirely surprising, and I don't exactly blame them for it either.

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