Afghanistan, Pakistan and Railing Against the Quagmire

Monday, November 2, 2009
Like many Americans, I've been following the quagmire that is the conflict in Afghanistan. I've been watching the elections, and watching the diplomatic cluster-fuck that is our relationship with Pakistan. And I've been aching for the friends and family of those who have fallen in this conflict.

And I feel the the need to rant and rail for a bit.

Now, before I rant and you start criticizing me for doing so, I'll issue this disclaimer: I realize that this issue is incredibly complicated. I realize that we, as a nation, do indeed owe the people of Afghanistan some sort of nation-building effort as a result of our decision to go in and destroy their whack-a-loon government. I realize that to dump these people on their heads is not the right thing to do, and might in fact be extremely counter-productive in terms of controlling radical Islam in that part of the world.

Intellectually, I understand these things. I accept them. I trust General McChrystal to make informed, rational decisions, and to make reasonable recommendations to the Commander-in-Chief. I trust the President to make an appropriate choice based on the hundred million pieces of information that he has access to and I do not.

And yet...emotionally, I could give a good goddamn about any of those things. And thus, the rant.

The government of Afghanistan is comprised of the most corrupt motherfuckers on the PLANET. From Hamid Karzai all the way down to the lowliest clerk, these people can't go to the restroom without expecting some sort of kickback, or bribe, or payola for actually, you know, DOING THEIR JOBS. We're pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into this government, and our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and other government workers' lives are on the line so these fuckers can line their pockets? Really? I can't tell you how angry this makes me. I feel like the very least they can do is take some personal responsibility for their own outcomes, and yet - here we are. They abdicate their responsibility for a working, ethical government to us and we continue to pay, and pay, and pay. Meanwhile, they do nothing. That seems like a good deal for those who are lining their pockets, doesn't it? Not so much for those who pay with their lives or their health, or those Joe Shmoe citizens who are just trying to support their family.

And then there's Pakistan. Who out there thinks that the Pakistani intelligence service isn't TOTALLY IN BED with the Taliban? Anyone? Bueller? These duplicitous sacks of shit make my blood boil. I certainly don't expect a sovereign nation to put the interests of the United States ahead of their own - but these motherfuckers smile to our faces, totally take our money, and then run around the block so they can stab us in the back. Anyone who's "in the know," including the CIA, the Afghan Intelligence Service, the U.S. military, essentially EVERYONE knows they're lying sacks of shit. Yet they lie and deny, knowing they're getting over, and knowing that we know it, too.

There's a part of me that just wants to pull out of the entire region and leave them to their own devices. See how well they do without our money, our military, our aid. Fuck 'em.

Okay, not really. I know that's the wrong thing to do. But this report just irked me. And after eight long years of this, I'm growing impatient.

We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

28 comments:

mom in northern said...

I have to agree with your frustration on this one.
We are dealing with a tribal culture with cell phones.

They missed out on the Ages of Reason and Enlightenment.
The same can be said about most of Africa too.

Recall the words of your “Smart Uncle” in Texas about how to deal with the problem.

JEF said...

Did you hear NPR interview w/Matthew Hoh former marine who recently resigned as state department employee in Afghanistan? Interesting viewpoint...http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=114287485&m=114287484

Janiece said...

Welcome, JEF.

I heard that interview this morning via Podcast - it didn't do anything to lower my blood pressure.

John the Scientist said...

I've been reading a lot about KMT-controlled China prior to the war. these regimes sound a lot like Chiang's. Especially Pakistan.

It would have looked even more like 1930s China if Bhutto had not been assassinated. Bhutto was a corrupt hack, but the West loved her for the same reason they loved Mme. Chiang - she was a reasonably attractive female graduate of a Western college. She was still a kleptocrat.

I think one issue we have as Americans is not being able to admit that every culture is not, and will not be for the foreseeable future, ready for prime time democracy.

Nathan said...

I'll second John on the "not ready for democracy" thing. Hell, neither of those places is really a "nation" as we think of it. It's still a group of tribal societies, constantly changing loyalties and enmities with each other.

The idea of creating a cohesive nation-state out of them in the foreseeable future is pretty laughable.

matt said...

I've often thought that, before committing to nation building, we should ask ourselves if the country in question passes this basic test: can they, as a society, understand the basic concepts of democracy? After all, the 80's stoned, surfer icon Joe Spiccoli was able to grasp the basic concept after his impromptu tutoring session with his long suffering history teacher (for those two people over 35 out there who haven't seen "Fast times at Ridgemont High" , just trust me here). To paraphrase Mr. Spiccoli, he realized that we broke from England because their rules were bogus, and if we didn't get some cool rules, pronto, then we'd be bogus too. I think that's a fair standard to start with . . . Does this or that country pass "The Spiccoli Test"? Are they able to grasp the concept of "cool rules"? If not, nation builders beware . . . As always, I'm not judgin' I'm just sayin' . . .

Janiece said...

I have smart readers. I believe you have put your finger on the sore, and I love Matt's comparison - "The Spicoli Test," indeed.

So given that Afghanistan can't pass the Spicoli Test, what is the right thing to do? Letting them stew in their own juices isn't right, nor does it serve our own interests.

Steve Buchheit said...

What we need to do (and needed to do back in the late 80s early 90s) is by pass the governments and drive support directly to the people. Screw giving the governments the money and expect them to do all the humanitarian and nation building work There are still enough NGOs to drive that change. It would also have the benefit on working to tie the Afghanis to the US.

Right now our policies are directed into shoring up the government to create some form of stability. Instead we should be shoring up the population, building infrastructure, schools, opportunities for advancement. The Afghan government isn't going to do that, they can barely maintain order in the capitol (besides lining their own pockets instead of using the money they way we desire).

Drive the goods to the people. Use our troops to protect that chain (from the Taliban and the government) and we'll win. Continue to support "our man in Kabul" and we go the way of Vietnam (including the attempts to correct the government). Let the people govern themselves.

Same goes for Pakistan. Bypass the government. Pakistan is too focused on India and their attempts to keep their larger neighbor unsteady in their footing to really work on clearing out the problems the ISI created in the "tribal lands." We should also be working on negotiated peace accords between India and Pakistan (leveraging both governments to the table). Once that border is settled, and the two parties at nominal peace, all the idiocy in the Kush begins to lessen and the radicals will get pushed out of the way.

I don't buy the argument that they're not ready for democracy. Tribal organization is based on a more direct democracy than what we have, although it is more prone to cronyism and abuse than our system. If their leaders don't enjoy popular support, the tribe changes those leaders. What we need to do is show them the path of how to meta that philosophy, instill the concept of "nationhood" and they'll get the rest.

Janiece said...

Steve, the trouble with that plan is in the execution. If we don't support a centralized government (and the rule of law and infrastructure support that goes with that), then how exactly do you propose those services associated with a centralized government be provided? By the "tribal leaders?" Isn't that what got us into trouble in the first place? And will those tribes take responsibility for infrastructure support and maintenance?

I tend to believe that arriving at an "Age of Reason, Age of Enlightenment" point of view isn't something that can be imposed from the outside.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

And the "Spicoli Test" is something that even us Mechanicky Folks can wrap our heads around.
No muss, no fuss.

Steve Buchheit said...

Well, we have the contacts and the organization that we can get the construction done without sending the money through the central government. We can work through the NGOs in country. Then hand the projects over to the locals/national governments. Once in place the locals will have "ownership" (especially if we use local labor). We'll drive the governmental organization from the ground up.

The problem so far is everything has been top down with little by-in from the locals. Once we can provide security, infrastructure, and normalcy and empower the local population, they won't allow their government to squander it.

Since the nominal national government can't get beyond itself, we write it off and go direct to the people. So instead of looking like we're propping up a illegitimate government, we'll be supporting the people and expect them to do better.

Pakistan is a little easier in this regard as their is enough local governance that the projects have a greater chance of success.

And I'll just remind us that we're still supporting warlords (Northern Alliance), they just have desk jobs now. And we have to deal with them anyway since the central government is weak.

Janiece said...

Steve, from the Frontline report:

"Americans have brought grand ambitions to Helmand once before. In the '50s and '60s, Helmand was the site of one of the largest foreign aid projects ever undertaken in the developing world. The same engineers who built the Hoover Dam constructed these canals and installed a major dam upstream to control periodic flooding. The area developed into Afghanistan's breadbasket. But despite the good intentions, Helmand also became the world's largest heroin poppy supplier."

Because taking these projects "to the people" worked out so well for us before? Perhaps it's that I'm a cranky this week, but your plan seems a bit...naive.

Steve Buchheit said...

That could be, Janiece. Although that's a project that actually worked, and until the Taliban destroyed it, helped Afghani farmers provide for themselves (even if we see it as the exportation of illicit drugs, there is, however, a legit market for opiates). It seems to have had better success than our current efforts.

And for my part, I'm mostly talking about roads, schools, and housing.

Janiece said...

Steve, nothing would make me happier than if my cynicism was misplaced. Maybe your plan would be better than the current scenario - it seems pretty damn clear that if we left the scene, Afghanistan would become a failed state almost immediately. Because really - that's what we need. A failed state in that region.

What a mess...

Abdur Rafay Zafar said...

i dunno what u guys are being fed down there. Everybody involved in this mess is playing a double game. the biggest double crosser is The US itself and has been for a good century now. The pakistani and afghan people will suffer as usual. Now this shit was created by the US. they could have paid Mulla Umar 10 USD billion an got all hold of every single member of al-qaeda that ever set foot in Afghanistan. But you ass holes messed it up for the whole region. Oh and if you are so naive to think that it's just 4 countries well you are wrong. India, Russia and Iran are also involved in Afghanistan. China hasnt jumped in as yet. India is supporting the TTP fighting in Pakistan which is not the real taliban anyway. TTP was a group of criminals/decoits/angry/sidelined/power hungry people that joined together under the disguise of taliban to engage the pakistani troops. Some of their personnel killed by the pak army werent even circumcised i.e. they were non-muslims! It was created in 2004/05. Guess what there were no suicidal bombings in Pakistan before that. Blaming it on radical Islam is what the media feeds you. If somebody blows up your home, killing your family, what are you supposed to do? sit there and wait your turn? Maybe you should experience some 40 years of dictatorial rule and third category burns from WP to your children to understand what radicalizes a human mind.

Look pashtoons are very passionate people. They are rebels at heart and will take revenge especially if you hurt their women and children. They have certain values and honors they hold on to. you can call that tribal culture or whatever but at at least they are not hypocritical about it, unlike the west. the only value you have left is free will. And that includes bombing innocent people and supporting dictators because you have the power to do so and it fulfills your purpose.

But, mark my words Afghans will defeat you! In case you run away they will chase you. A pushtun will go with you to hell if you win his heart, but you cannot force him even to go to Heaven. Im half pashtun (durrani family) so this ethos is in my makeup too lol! Sooner or later a mutiny will take place in the afghan army against your forces. Hopefully they will not leave any foreign mercenary alive. you deserve no mercy for the crimes you have committed over the last 8 years. I feel sorry for the families of these clueless marines but hey you never felt sorry when you bomb our people and call that fancy names like 'collateral damage'. then get rewarded with nobel peace prize. Thanks for your "reason and enlightenment" but we are having none of that.

The US and its allies must leave our lands. We can sort ourselves out if you let us do that. keep your holy cow 9-11, your mercenaries blackwater, Xe, Inter risk and crusader ideology with you. In pakistan we have got our own independent media, we have got an independent judiciary after a long struggle as they were 'sacked' and locked up by your darling dictators Musharraf and zardari. Now we need to kick out zardari and his gang which you guys are backing because he serves your cause. Economy is in a dire condition but we will sort our problems out if you bloody stop creating more problems for us. We DONT need your help. Your 'aid' disguised under your imperialistic aims will never bring any good to the people.

I can sympathize a little with obama because getting out of this mess may not be possible until other objectives are met. israel and india want to denuclearize Pakistan and the lobbies have been at work. Hersh reported that a team of special forces was handed this task and has already entered pakistan. Now if Pakistanis retaliate which they should do, a huge shit could cop up. Moreover, Britain/US want to destabilize Iran, hence the MI6 involvement wit the Sunni separatist group Jundallah. Dont be surprised if you hear this name more frequently in the coming months.

Janiece said...

Abdur Rafay Zafar, you are welcome here, if you wish to discuss the issue at hand with civility and some sense of proportion.

Coming to my my on-line home and calling me an "imperial asshole" and holding me personally accountable for civilian casualties in your region doesn't fit that bill.

There can be no doubt that there are many, many individuals in-region that feel the same way you do. Some of your points are justified. Most are not. Coming here and claiming I have no values except the "free will" to bomb the crap out of your part of the world is simply the stupidest thing I've heard this week. A commensurate stupidity would be my claiming that all Afghans, Pakistanis and Muslims are terrorists. Stereotype much?

I'm not going to answer each of your points, as your comments seem to vacillate between incoherent ranting and intelligent discourse. If you wish to continue the discussion, please do so with less of the former and more of the latter. I am genuinely interested in your viewpoint, since, as you note, it's not diluted by the Main Stream Media (MSM). However, I am not interested in letting my private space become your soapbox for anti-American rhetoric. Choose civility, you can stay. Choose to be a flaming asshole in my private space, I will delete your contributions out of hand.

Abdur Rafay Zafar said...

argh.. OK soweee boss. remove my previous comment if you want.
'you' in my previous comment referred to the US establishment. I have nothing against the American public except that through their taxes they help fund the wars that kill millions of innocent people. Ooops!
thing is there is growing anger against the US all over the world, especially in Pakistan. We had never heard of a suicide bomb before 2004. We love guns. In fact we celebrate our weddings and child birth by firing a few rounds. Fighting isn't new to pashtuns either; just ask the brits.

But, we are peaceful! The tribal region which is now supposed to be the root of all terrorism had the lowest crime rate in the world. for eg. before 1970s (when Pakistan constitution was applied in Sawat valley) there were 12-20 murders/year on average in Sawat. There were around 800 murders/year the constitution was replaced the shariah cum tribal law that was present. But it still was very peaceful and one of the best tourist spots in the world.

Pashtuns dont take dictations; never have and never will although now we have our hands full. There is TTP on one side and black water/US drones on the other side, Pakistani forces using artillery in villages and a US run puppet govt to top it all of. There is more than enough reason for anyone to go mad, thanks to Bush, Mush and Co.
And talking about moral values, ever heard of Pashtunwali?

Janiece said...

Welcome back, Abdur Rafay Zafar.

Your comments surrounding anti-American sentiment aren't really news, unfortunately. I would love to say that the American public was completely ignorant of what former President Bush and his Insane Clown Posse did to our international reputation, but that would be prevarication of the worst sort. We do know, and in our last election, tried to do something about it by electing someone who was more inclined to multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral action. In other words, not everyone here is a flag-waving freeze-dried wackaloon with no idea of how much of the world looks at us.

Having said that, however, that does not mean that even the most liberal among us does not have some sense of nationalism. Even me, a tax and spend liberal, approved of our invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. Individuals who were trained and protected by the Afghans murdered thousands or our citizens on an unprovoked attack on our soil. What would you have had us do?

Iraq, of course, is a different matter, and not the subject of this discussion.

Please note that I'm not implying the U.S. bears no responsibility in terms of helping the Afghans build up sustainable infrastructure. Even in my initial post, I conceded that pulling out with no thought to the long term ramifications of our actions was not the morally correct position. I'm simply frustrated with the incredible corruption inherent in the current power structure.

As for Pakistan, I can say my own frustration comes from the fact that your government (not you - your government) is simply lying their ass off to mine, while simultaneously taking our money. I'm not trying to imply that the U.S. government is blameless when I say that, but I look at the situation as an American citizen and a veteran. My brothers and sisters-in-arms are being killed, if not as a direct result of your government's actions, then certainly with an assist from them.

So just as you are angry at what you perceive to be my government's interference in your region, I'm angry at what I perceive to be your government's duplicitous behavior as it affects the safety of my country's Armed Forces. In that respect, I would say we probably both have valid complaints.

I looked up "Pashtunwali." From the perspective of a secular Westerner, the code described (at least in Widipedia, admittedly not the most reliable of sources) sounds very much like tribalism from my cultural viewpoint. For example, it would be highly unlikely for an American to list "revenge" as a value they would hold in high esteem. There are other examples, such as "clan loyalty" and "Namus (honor of women)." In my world, I have no "clan" (although I do have a family), and I defend my own honor, as I define it.

However, there are other attributes that I would include in a description of American values, such as equality, freedom and independence, and fighting evil.

Abdur Rafay Zafar said...

No pashtun/afghan/taliban/uzbek/pakistani was involved in the whole 9-11 event. osama was a guest under taliban's rule. He was confined to Kandahar to do his thing. Clinton knew about that and tried to get him in 1998. A guest with a pashtun is his responsibility and that's why taliban asked for evidence of osama's involvement. but no evidence was provided and the war began. Hard to believe it but there is still no evidence that osama or alqaeda did 9-11. There is no FIR, no hearing, no charges placed against al-qaeda for conducting the attacks on 9-11. If you have any evidence that can convict Osama/AQ please produce it in a court of law, although its too late now. CIA did conjure up a phony confession tape. Every journo who has met osama in person can confirm that the 'osama' in the video isnt real. "Everybody is innocent unless proven guilty" isn't that what you're supposed to practice??

And the current Pakistani govt is illegitimate, corrupt, puppets of the US who came into power through a deal that took place between Mush, bhutto and US + UK. Bush/Cheney liked Mush, Condi and Boucher preferred Bhutto. Read Ron Suskinds book "The Way of the World". The election was scripted and it took place without a legitimate judiciary in place. Mush imposed emergency/marshal law to remove the judges who were going to declare him illegitimate as president of Pakistan. Bhutto decided to break the deal and sided with the other political parties who wanted to reinstate the judiciary. Mush got bhutto out of the way as she was in no mood to compromise with him. you got told that it was taliban who killed her even though in her last email to Mark Segal she clearly blamed Mush for her death in case she is murdered. After her death a 'political will' came on to the scene that made her husband the master of her party. after her party won the vote and formed a coalition, her husband zardari took over the presidency from Mush. Interesting to note that the common people don't come anyway near the whole decision making process. What is even harder to digest is that over 2 years have passed since bhutto's murder and her party still hasn't even registered an FIR, while Mush enjoys musical nights in London.

Pakistanis finally did get the real judges back without any help from the US and thank god for that. Now the criminal and corruption cases amounting to billions of dollars of money laundering have been reopened and justice can finally be served, unless US saves these criminals for use in the future.

Janiece said...

Abdur Rafay Zafar, perhaps you misunderstood me when I said I would not permit you to use my space as a platform for anti-American rhetoric.

I don't feel compelled to defend America's actions, since you don't provide any "proof" of your own to back up your wild accusations. Either provide it, or don't come back here again. Seriously - you're starting to piss me off, and implying that the U.S. is responsible for your own country's woes is more than a little disengenuous. You're a fucking nuclear power, for Christ's sake. Take some responsibility for your own state of affairs.

And if you don't think al Qaeda was involved in 9/11, then I suspect you've been the recipient of some brainwashing of your own.

Abdur Rafay Zafar said...

yes as i said we are getting our house in order but then there is far too much foreign involvement. every week, there is mullen, Holbrooke or some other US diplomat visiting islamabad. They dont talk to the people or the parliament, they talk to the puppets. even the money that has been paid to the govt (not to the people) is peanuts. your war has cost our economy (i.e the people) at least 35-40 billion USD over 8 years.

and please do read what i said. no pakistani/afgani or even taliban was involved, anywhere in the whole 9-11 episode. All of the 'alleged' terrorists were arabs, if you recall. It would have been easy to have paid the taliban or put pressure via the Saudis or put some sanctions or called a jirga to get osama. But you wanted revenge, something you personally don't approve of?? Now you have got into deep trouble and need our help? the blame for US failure will lie on Pakistan as you will never accept you were wrong.

but we have given everything. right now millions of Pakistanis are living homeless in harsh cold as refugees in their own country. We gave you the best supply routes through our cities and ports, our air bases from which your planes fly and kill innocent people every week. We redirected our traffic routes through flyovers, underpasses so that your consignments arrive on time in Afghanistan. We gave you the best of our produce at the best prices while there were queues for wheat in our cities. Granted you paid for some of those services but many of them were favors because we were told you were friends. But after 8 years you still want us to do more?

our soldiers are fighting too and many have laid their lives in a war you started. The US has sold this war to us very cheap thanks to our rulers. 1.5 billion USD/yr for over 150k Pakistani troops fighting this war. do you know the cost of the additional 30k US troops in Afghanistan? In Afghanistan the average farmer, school teacher, has picked up their arms against the US. After defeating you they'll head towards our towns as we sided with you. you have created 1000 enemies for every single you killed and we are having to face the consequences with our blood and sweat.

But we don't mind getting the blame, neither do our people mind the cold nor that we sleep hungry sometimes (as long as our children sleep well), nor do we mind keeping refugees in our homes because they are our guests, and my family is lucky in this respect. We accept that being a third world country our blood is cheap; the question is how much more do you want? We are running out of material possessions and many have already given their lives. We are managing just about but for how much longer before you leave your lost cause? We don't want your help (we never beg only our super rich rulers do); we'll build once again from scratch as we did after the quake in 05. But, if it came down to our honor, our women and children, there are going to be no compromises! Many of our people (like Dr aafia siddiqui,) are missing/have been abducted since the war began. Some have returned after facing years of persecution without any charges. you have driven us to the point where we begin to question whether US is our friend or master.

Janiece said...

You read what I wrote. I did not say that Afghans or Pakistanis were involved in 9/11. I said Al Qaeda was involved in 9/11, with Taliban support. That much is irrefutably true, not "alleged." Just as it's true that most of the 9/11 attackers were Saudi's, and that our country chooses not to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their Wahhabi extremism. I don't approve, but I'm honest enough to admit it's economically motivated.

Our actions in Afghanistan were about destroying Al Qaeda's ability to hurt us, not about revenge, at least for me. You see, unlike you, I don't feel comfortable speaking for every one of my countrymen. We're an extremely diverse bunch, and while it may be true that there are some Americans who believe unequivocally that wiping out Islam is the correct thing to do, I'm not one of them. You might do well to remember that policy and people are not the same thing.

Your sweeping generalizations are really starting to bore me. They're ill-thought out, without supporting proof, and your increasingly vociferous anti-Americanism is extremely childish. Self-determination - try it some time. You might like it.

Please do not return here, as any further comments will be deleted. I will tolerate radically different viewpoints here, as long as they're well-thought out and supported by verifiable facts. Yours are just emotional and childish, and you've committed the one sin I won't tolerate here - you're boring.

Abdur Rafay Zafar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Janiece said...

*TONG*

Eric said...

Abdur Rafay Zafar, I don't know if I want to jump into this or not, but I do want to say one thing: as Janiece pointed out, we're a diverse bunch in the United States, and there are certainly intelligent, informed Americans who don't disagree with you that a war with Afghanistan might have been avoidable. My father's feelings, if I understand them and are doing them justice, are that the Bush Administration did not do enough to allow the Taliban regime an opportunity to respond to the American ultimatum to turn al Qaeda over, and that the ultimatum was indeed something that the government of Afghanistan was not in a position to comply with even if they'd wanted to or been given more time. He might not disagree with you that bribery could have been an option that should have pursued. And he's not exactly unique--the antiwar movement in this country includes a segment that's opposed to the war in Afghanistan for reasons in line with what you describe.

For my part, I feel some ambivalence: I am, by nature, antiwar, but I also feel that the Taliban regime was a human rights issue that had been allowed to fester for too long a time and that the Afghanistan War could be justified, if any war could be, on humanitarian grounds. That having been said, I am appalled when "collateral damage" occurs and I am appalled by the previous Presidential Administration's ties to corporations such as Blackwater.

Which raises a fundamental issue with your rhetoric, ARZ: the United States is a vast territory with some 300-400 million citizens, a heavy emphasis on education, a represenative democratic government, a belief in free speech (however much we screw it up) and a long tradition of celebrating iconoclasts, individualists and fractiously independent individuals. In such a setting, you will find, on any issue, possibly every single opinion you can imagine--wise opinions, crazy opinions, informed opinions, ignorant opinions, liberal opinions, conservative opinions, religious opinions, secular opinions, anything. You will find people who get all their news from one single network and people who never watch TV, people who don't touch books and people who devour them, people who read newspapers and people who only read news online and people who only get their news from foreign sources (I've known people who read foreign-language news not even because they were immigrants, but because they just liked practicing their German or Chinese). And the point is that when you start a statement with a comment that assumes that people in such a diverse, huge and strange place as this are some kind of single-minded tribe, you risk antagonizing people who might actually agree with some or all of what you say, or who would like to read it just so they can think about whether they agree with it or not. In other words, consider the possibility that some of the Americans you write to might agree with you or at least value your opinions, at least as long as you don't start off by saying their cheerful killers.

My best wishes and hopes to you, your family, and your nation, in any event.

Eric said...

Sorry, Janiece, I seem to have been writing while you were deleting. Feel free to delete that comment and this one.

Janiece said...

Eric, I'll leave your comments, and I appreciate your thoughts, especially as you put your finger on what was offending (and boring me) about my new visitor. To be lumped in with the Bushies left a bad taste in my mouth, and he seemed to feel that it was just fine and dandy to do so without (obviously) having a clue about the diversity of the U.S.

The entire experience was disappointing, because I was looking forward to exchanging ideas with someone whose viewpoint was so radically different from my normal group's. Instead I got castigated for the accident of my birth with no regard for my own individualism.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

Vagabond said...

Zowie Woman! There are a couple of things that give me a chuckle about this exchange with Abdur Rafay Zafar. The first is that your reach has indeed grown long! Lovely, just lovely! I do believe you may have had a tribal oath of vengeance or perhaps even a jihad sworn against HCDSM. . . you go, girl! The second is the choice ARZ made about where to expound his views and make himself unwelcome. He probably would have had more fun playing on some neocon blog, or at least the comments would have rapidly degenerated to the same mental level as some of his later posts. It also pains me that he can't seem to decide how to spell "Pashtun." Yes, you can take the boy out of journalism . . . I think that in future posts, ARZ should be given the moniker "The Big Spiccoli!"