's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions

Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )

White Man's Burden?(6 posts)

White Man's Burden?Jon
Nov 15, 2001 11:26 AM
Here's a topic for discussion. There has been much discussion and background information
relative to the years of civil war and anarchy in Afghanistan. At the same time the Arab world
spins out a constant stream of anti-American, anti-Western propaganda. All problems in the
Arab world are blamed on U.S. policies/behaviours. As well, the current situation in Afghanistan
is blamed on the U.S.' failure to fill the power vacuum following the Soviet withdrawal. However,
had the Americans intervened they would undoubtedly have been attacked by everyone and his
mother for more political and economic imperialism. At the same time the only humanitarian
aid for the starving, displaced Afghanis is obviously coming from American and other Western aid

To what extent should we be "our brothers" keepers? Does the U.S. in fact have an obligation
to Afghanistan and anyone else beyond defending itself from attacks such as Sept. 11?
Although I'm certainly not an uncritical supporter of American foreign policy, my own bias is that
somewhere along the line other nations and communities are to a large extent authors of their
own misfortunes and as such are also responsible at least to co-operate in effecting their
own solutions. Comments?
we have the responsibility to:DAC
Nov 15, 2001 1:04 PM
make sure that the overthrow of these Afghani cities is NOT accompanied by the same kind of bloodletting that happened in the early 1990's, the last time the 'northern alliance' occupied Kabul. Since we have got ourselves into this mess, now we are obligated to keep order as long as we are there.
re: White Man's Burden?mr_spin
Nov 15, 2001 1:05 PM
As the only remaining superpower, the United States has an obligation to promote stability in the world. That's the role we signed up for after WWII, and it is still the same today. It makes perfect sense, because the more stable the world is, the easier it is to do business in it.

In the old days, the U.S. promoted stability at any cost. That meant installing and/or propping up dictators in places like Chile, the Phillipines, Korea, Vietnam, Iran, etc. Since the Soviet Union broke up, American policy has totally changed. We no longer like dictators, for instance. We aren't independant operators anymore either. We like the United Nations now. We don't mind doing peacekeeping.

That aside, despite the U.S. backing of anti-Soviet Afghanistan forces in the 1980s, the U.S. cannot be faulted for what's happening in Afghanistan anymore than it can be faulted for what happened in the Balkans. Ethnic hatred is largely responsible, and the roots go back hundreds if not thousands of years, long before George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were born. And long before the Soviets invaded. Just like Yugoslavia imploded, so did Afghanistan.

The parallels to Yugoslavia are many, so hopefully our recent experience in the Balkans can be reapplied. The situation is somewhat the same, except Western culture and ideals were much more prevalent there, making it a little easier for Western powers to deal with them.

It's hard to imagine a fix for the problem at this point. Clearly the biggest killers, repressors, agitators and troublemakers have to be dealt with if stability has any hope. Then, if the tribes that inhabit Afghanistan still can't get along, all we can do is try to contain things so war doesn't break out again.
re: White Man's Burden?eoind
Nov 15, 2001 3:27 PM
I don't think it's fair to state that "the Arab world spins out a constant stream of anti-American, anti-Western propaganda". That's like tarring the whole Arab world with the same brush. The US has many Arab allies in the western world, without whom this present military action would have been a lot harder to pull off. It's true that the US has many enemies and critics in the Arab world, but isn't this mainly due to the Israeli/Palestinian question, rather than any idealistic ideas of "political and economic imperialism"?
By supplying arms to the fighters that were to become the Taliban, the US has undoubtedly an obligation to help fix the present situation. Even if the US had no direct involvement in the creation of a problem of this scale, since the US is the only world super power it has a moral obligation to try and remedy conflicts around the world. This is not to say though that other countries are not guilty of being the authors of their own misery. But if the most powerful nation on the earth is to selectively pick which conflicts it wants to get involved in, according to it's own needs at the time, then the US is setting a very poor example to poorer countries around the world that are trying to emulate it's economic success.

My tuppence worth.
re: White Man's Burden?Me Dot Org
Nov 15, 2001 3:28 PM
The United States funneled billions of dollars in arms and aid to the mujahadeen in the 1980s. We perfectly happy to use the Afghanis as our proxies to bleed the Soviets. When the Soviets retreated, we withdrew our financial aid, because our interest never had been the Afghan people themselves, but a Cold War battle with the Soviet Union.

i "other nations and communities are to a large extent
i authors of their own misfortunes"

I don't think it is the fault of Afghanis that they were invaded by the Soviet Union. I don't think that it is the fault of Afghanistan that Pakistan, using money from Wahhab fundantalists in Saudi Arabia, founded the schools which tutored the Taliban to place in power a government amenable to the will of Pakistan. (You could go back to the Durand Line of 1893, which fixed the border of then British India and Afghanistan, to see part of the problem. Many Pashtuns, who considered themselves Afghanis, suddenly found themselves living in Northwest India - now Pakistan).

I think Americans should act in their best interests. Remember, it was in our best interest to rebuild Europe and Japan after World War II. We could have left Germany with a crippling war debt after WWII, but we all remember what happened after WWI. Perhaps we could have said that Germany and Japan were the "authors of their own misfortunes", but I'm very glad that we engaged in nation building at the end of the war.

If the United States is interested in truly fighting terrorism, I think we have to dispel the myth in the Islamic world that we are the enemy of Islam. Helping Afghanis to rebuild their nation would be a great step in that direction. Afghanistan has suffered from 4 years of drought, this winter will be very tough without aid. The United States, to its credit, has been the major supplier of food aid to Afghanistan during the past few years. This is not the time to quit.

I don't think the United States should be involved militarily in the post-Taliban government (other than searching out and destroying Taliban and El Qaida. strongholds). A multi-national (and strongly Muslim) UN peace-keeping force should have that job.

For those who say this is impossible, I would remind them that Afghanistan was a relatively stable nation from 1933 to 1973. It was Soviet intervention in the coup of 1978 that lead to the mujahadeen movement. It IS possible for Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Uzbeks to live together. If the Northern Alliance shows a willingness to share power, I think that many of the Pashtuns who backed the Taliban will see that there are other, better options.
re: White Man's Burden?I AM
Nov 15, 2001 5:16 PM
IMHO if the spineless UN did it's job the U.S. wouldn't be the
worlds policeman. If this was the case I don't think America
would be hated as it is in some parts of the world.
It will be good to see the Taliban gone but this is where the
U.N. must step in to keep the peace and help the Afghan people
form a government that represents them.
Although their living conditions are horendous compared to ours the Afghan people need the same things as you and I,to
eke out a living, feed their kid's, themselves,shelter and clothes. Oh yeah and some form of stability in their lives,
something they haven't had in way too long.
As I said IMHO this is the time for the U.N. to do somethinguseful for a change.