Confound it! The batteries are dead!

The First Real Post – Some Scribbling About Afghanistan and Palestine

I’ve been thinking about what to write in here, and the only thing I’m sure of is that I want to write it in English. Some posts will possibly be Norwegian, but I’ll try my best to keep to English. Hopefully I’ll manage to write something about different issues and problems we are facing on our little blue planet, without sounding too much like a 14-year old girl. Which I am not, by the way.

After checking around on my computer if I already had something scribbled down I could post I started reading an exam from a year back. I was studying in India for 3 months through a Norwegian organization called Kulturstudier or “Culture Studies”, taking a subject called “Peace and Conflict Studies”. The exam didn’t go too well, but I found some interesting parts I decided to post. The reason for this is that I’m hopefully going Lebanon, to live and help around in a Palestinian refugee camp next year, and from what I’ve read and think about the Israel-Palestine conflict it seems kind of similar to what I wrote about the growth of insurgency terrorism in Afghanistan. So this is really a post about Palestine, using an exam called “Terrorism in the Afghani Context”. Possibly not the best start..? Well, here goes nothing:

“… Extreme poverty, the lack of food and water, the constant threat to the population’s physical security and the lack of a well functioning democracy, as stated in the report Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban (2006), is [destroying Afghanistan]. For many it seems that it is now worse than when the Taliban was in power. Increasing impoverishment, lack of jobs and basic human needs, create the basis of the classic example of poverty as a cause of conflict (Barash and Webel, page 243).

(…) [T]here is a feeling that the promises that the coalition [fighting in Afghanistan] has made has not been held, and a feeling of hopelessness has come upon the Afghani population. As one police officer in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan stated: “I have lost all trust in the foreigners” (Afghanistan Five Years Later: The Return of the Taliban: 2006). It seems that this attitude is spreading, especially in southern regions of Afghanistan.”

I still receive newsletters from Kulturstudier, and a couple of days ago I saw they had an article by an Afghani medical student that were supposed to do the same subject as me in India, but ended up not going. Instead she wrote a short essay about the situation in Afghanistan to Kulturstudier. I wanted to add some of what she writes to supplement what I wrote in my exam, and since it is written in Norwegian I’ll translate it freely to English. You can find the whole article in Norwegian here.

”I remember well the days the Taliban were bombed and chased away from the city Mazar-e Sharif in north Afghanistan. I tossed away my burka, and as millions of other girls I looked forward to go to school and the university. My grandparents told me “don’t call it American bombs, call it the Rain of God that washes
Afghanistan clean. (…) I doubt they would still call it the Rain of God. It is bombs, and they are killing innocent women and children.

You can say that Afghanistan now has a democratic constitution, a democratically chosen government, military forces and police, freedom of speech, access to telecommunications etc., but no one can claim that we feel safe in everyday life. That which is most basic, necessary and important for Afghanis today is peace, and this is difficult to achieve as a result of an alien invasion.

The people of Afghanistan are trapped in an unwanted war between Americans and their marionette dolls the Mujahideen and Taliban. None of them are here to fight for our national interests and to them our security and lives are meaningless.”

Lastly I want to just mention the book we used the most when we were studying Peace and Conflict Studies in India. It is by David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel and called “Peace and Conflict Studies” (2002), by Sage Publications. Its not really a great book, and personally I thought that there were too much “we have no limitations” and “if we all just love each other we’ll manage to create peace” statements, but it is a short, and perhaps useful, introduction to what peace and conflict is, how to handle it ideally, some different reasons for conflict and issues such as nuclear weapons (which I will probably come back to). So, for anyone interested in these kinds of things this is a starting point.


Written by Aslak

September 20, 2008 at 18:53

Posted in Politics

2 Responses

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  1. Congrats on the blog! You have one faithful reader in me already.

    A reply to the post: Material poverty and trust issues are undoubtedly important factors in fueling the fire in Lebanon as well as in Afghanistan, but the same goes for practically every other conflict in the world, doesn’t it?

    If you could be more specific about the similarities, the parallel would be better. Has, for instance, Hezbollah been gaining power in Lebanon for the same reasons that Taliban has gained power in Afghanistan? And do the Lebanese people feel betrayed by the international community for the same reason the Afghans do?


    September 21, 2008 at 17:23

  2. Yes, I would presume that at least most conflicts are affected by these issues, and that it is not necessarily something special about these specific examples of conflicts. However I tried to use one conflict, and what I’ve written about it before, to enlighten another conflict. And there’s the fact that my mindset usually doesn’t leave Lebanon’s side for even a moment lately…

    It seems you misunderstand me slightly though when you mention the “betrayal of the Lebanese people”. Although this is an easy misunderstanding to see, it is not really the Lebanese people I am talking about, it is the Palestinians in Lebanon. Even though I do feel sorry for the Lebanese people for having Israel, an aggressive regional power, constantly threatening and pressuring them, it is from the Palestinians they have stolen… everything from. The disregard of multiple UN resolutions, the ongoing banishment from their own rightfully owned areas and the apathy and reluctance from the west to help the Palestinians no doubt fuels their fire to fight Israel. The Israelis are strengthening their own enemy, the same way the coalition in Afghanistan is.


    September 21, 2008 at 21:43

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