Grey decisions

August 25, 2010

In reading various bits about what to do about Afghanistan i found this piece the most honest in its summary of the dilemma of what to do about a horribly difficult situation Dissent magazine S Linfield . The following passage i thought summed up something you don’t often read in the opinion pages of the press, that whatever is decided – stay or go – either decision is not going to lead to a very happy outcome for the Afghan people in the short, medium or long term:

“… it is conscience, I think—or, rather, conflicting claims on our conscience—that is at the heart of this debate. One can argue that it is right to leave Afghanistan, and wrong to ask more Americans to die there. One can argue that the civilian casualties rates of the NATO troops are indefensible, or that the war in Afghanistan is simply too costly for our downwardly-mobile country to pay for. (On the Nation’s Media Fix blog, Greg Mitchell proposed showing photographs of “workers streaming into a newly re-opened factory,” “a returning soldier embraced by his wife and two kids,” and “solar panels being erected on a huge office building” to illustrate “What Happens If We LEAVE Afghanistan.”) But it is bad faith of the worst sort to argue that withdrawal would somehow help the women of Afghanistan; or would rescue them from lives of almost unimaginable pariahdom, misery, poverty, physical pain, poor health, ignorance, and degradation; or would not take away even the minimal gains that have been made. Equally bad, I think, is the pretense that a “deal” with the Taliban won’t somehow come at women’s (and children’s) expense. Let’s at least call barbarism by its right name—which is just what the Time photograph did.”

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