Reading for the Day: Tamim Ansary on the War in Afghanistan

Self has a lot of respect for Ansary.  She greatly enjoyed his memoir, West of Kabul, East of New York:  An Afghan American Story, and a few years ago she attended a reading he gave in the Redwood City Library.  Last Sunday’s SF Chronicle contained a piece by Ansary called “Finding a Way Out of the Quagmire.”  Here’s an excerpt:

Yes, Afghanistan is a quagmire.  The war is going poorly and getting worse.  For several months now, peace activists have been calling for an immediate U.S. withdrawal.  In the months to come, I expect to see a broad array of Americans joining them.  But this rising anti-war sentiment presumes a false choice:  that America must either make war in Afghanistan or quit the country altogether.

It’s true that many Afghans in Afghanistan want to see Americans gone, but others still stake their very lives on America’s presence.  Most Afghans just want to survive but must tune their survival strategies to what they think America will do.  At the first sign that the United States plans to abandon Afghanistan, as it did in the early 90s, allegiances will begin shifting:  No one can affod to get stranded on the losing side.  And, as order erodes in the cities, the rural wolves will circle in.

Afghanistan is largely conservative, rural and tribal, but it does have urban modernists who long to leave their country’s medieval themes behind, city folks who embrace modern science and struggle to reform Afghan social norms, artists who dream of their art being taken seriously abroad, young people aching to participate in global pop culture.

Shortly after U.S. forces leave the country, a lot of these people will be dead.

Try and read the rest of the article, dear blog readers.  It contains a wealth of insight into a culture that, in spite of the many years of war, has not become any less opaque, at least for the average American.

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