In the Perpetual Pursuit of Violence and Misery
On September 1st, Human Rights Watch issued a news release, Taliban Should Stop Using Children as Suicide Bombers:
The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers in Afghanistan is an egregious affront to humanity that should cease immediately, Human Rights Watch said today. In the latest incident, on August, 27, 2011, residents of Baharak district in northeastern Badakhshan province captured a 16-year-old wearing a suicide vest as he was on his way to blow up a local mosque.
Yesterday, the Taliban responded to the accusations from what they called "propaganda media outlets" in a statement on their English language "Voice of Jihad," denying the consistent and overwhelming evidence that they regularly recruit, coerce, force and trick children into blowing themselves up. The Taliban response is illuminating in several respects, from their delusionally euphemistic term "martyrdom-seeking operations of Mujahideen" in place of suicide bombers, to their stated reasons for not using children. They claim to not use children, not because it's revolting and inhuman, but because children are not tactically useful. The response reveals the Taliban's stunning lack of human empathy in that there is no wholesale rejection of the idea of children as collateral, a give-away that in their worldview, everyone is fair game:
children are not able to perform such huge and amazing missions, nor they are able to bring to conclusion the martyrdom-seeking operations as an effective military tactic against the given military targets. ... Martyrdom-seeking operations need a strong resolutions, military training and deep Islamic knowledge and motive. Children do not have these physical and mental capacities to carry out the task.
To even find yourself asking the Taliban to not force children to detonate themselves should make it crystal clear that you're no longer dealing with a rational actor with whom you can rationally negotiate. The case is being pled to the militarized and heavily multiplied equivalent of Charles Manson, to a psychopathic movement that is operating on a different plane altogether, one devoid of civility. It’s a plane we should never want to enter.
The politeness with which we in western democracies tiptoe around the Taliban, pretending they are like any other disgruntled Third World rebel group trying to stick it to the man, has got to stop. In Afghanistan, the coalition countries that make up the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan have been fighting a monster. And they’ve been doing it without the united moral backing of their publics at home, too many of whom think that pacifism in the face of the Taliban is a defense of peace. Neutrality in the face of fascism and slaughter is no defense of peace, but a position in aid of the entrenchment of Taliban tyranny and which will ultimately lead to further bloodshed.
Our unwillingness to seriously examine the monstrosity of Taliban ideology and its implications means we too rarely ask the question of what the Taliban actually want: what is their endgame vision, and is it one we can live with having allowed to succeed? Following the question through to its logical (and frightening) end is usually glossed over by the repetition of the Taliban's standard demands for negotiations to proceed, such as the withdrawal of foreign troops and release of their prisoners. But these are merely conditions, not their endgame. These are the conditions that will make it easier for the Taliban to swiftly overthrow the current government and revert back to the nightmare of a government they ran from 1996 to 2001.
I consider the evidence and take a stab at answering the question of what the Taliban actually want today in this piece at Troy Media, and the conclusions are grim. It's time to wake up to the foe that we, and Afghans, are facing.
Lauryn Oates is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist.