Thursday, March 1, 2012

How Are Smoldering Qurans Like Tallow-Greased Rifle Cartridges?

Source: Press TV article "Afghanistan protests to continue until expulsion of US troops"
Could the smoldering Quran pages discovered in the Bagram garbage dump be like the tallow-greased rifle cartridges of the Sepoy Mutiny? Tainted ammunition changed the hearts and minds of Hindu and Muslim sepoys who worked as mercenaries for the East India Company, and caused an uprising that was a bloodbath for both sides in 1857. The fact that the offending cartridges were replaced with a non-greased variety didn't much matter; when soldiers thought they had lost caste or violated their religious beliefs by putting beef and/or pork fat in their mouths, they were angry at the disrespect. As a result the company lost its governing powers, and the British Raj took another step toward its imperial grave. Later historians saw the rebellion as India's First War of Independence.

Hearts and minds across Afghanistan were similarly outraged by an insult to Islamic sacred texts. Reports of workers at the site burning themselves to rescue the Quran from the flames called to mind Jewish scholars diving into Nazi bonfires to rescue the Torah. As word spread of the “mistake” and apologies were issued, violent outbreaks rolled across the country. The latest occurred yesterday when a literacy teacher at a military base for both NATO and Afghan troops opened fire, killing two foreign soldiers and wounding another. The preceding week saw riots resulting in U.S. troop deaths, an attack on U.S. citizens inside the Afghan interior ministry, an attack on a UN building, and a populace so aroused that President Karzai dared not rebuke them -- as he was called upon by his NATO “allies” to do.

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers have published a critique of the sidelining of Afghan people from official negotiations which have the stated aim of winding down combat operations in their country. An excerpt:
If a war was being waged in the U.S. we would expect Americans to demand an end to the war and to have a say as to how it should end.
Likewise, the people of Afghanistan want to have a say in the negotiations to end the Afghan war.
After all, in 2011, a record number of 3021 Afghan civilians lost their lives. Afghans who risk losing their lives should have a say in the negotiations, ironically engineered by the very players who are killing them ( the UN reported that ‘anti-government elements’ – the Taliban and other insurgent groups – were responsible for 77 per cent of conflict-related deaths in 2011, while 14 per cent were caused by ‘pro-government forces’ – Afghan, U.S. and international security forces ).

But, fatally, the 30 million people of Afghanistan have no say in these negotiations. They are not represented at the negotiation table.
Source: article
by Kelley B. Vlahos
Reading this, one can't help but feel that people denied a legitimate voice in their own affairs will speak through demonstrations and violent attacks on symbolic targets instead. The Youth Peace Volunteers are resourceful in finding ways to communicate with others. Their regular conference calls via Skype and telephone have allowed them to converse with people in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Australia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Germany, Italy, South Sudan, South Africa, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Mexico, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, India, and others. I have had the pleasure of speaking with them myself, hearing their joyful voices, and saying that I haven't forgotten about them.

Of course the interests of U.S. people aren't represented at the imperial negotiating table, either. The decade long remote control war with its emblematic weapon, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), or drone, manufactures its own enemies and is hugely expensive. But no hearts and minds are needed to contribute to the effort. Just file your 1040 on time -- or else.

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

The Afghan people will be told when they have matured sufficiently to bear the awesome responsibilities of self-government. We are presently inquiring into how to communicate this to them should they achieve that maturity. We are exploring the notion that a failure to communicate effectively in English may not in itself be proof that they have not thus matured. But this raises the question of how such communication can be carried out. If we employ a local translator, what guarantee do we, the international community, have that he/she is translating honestly?
If you have any suggestions, please call the White House and ask for Barry.