Pacifism and Code Pink: a shortsighted ignorance of reality

Donald Douglas has a longish — especially due to the photos — post concerning Scott Horton’s interview of Medea Benjamin following reports that Code Pink was “rethinking” its call for a U.S. troop withrawal from Afghanistan. This quote from Mrs Benjamin caught my eye:

Well as in all discussions with people, it really depends on how you phrase the question. If you say to people, “Do you want 40,000 more troops, or would you like that money to go to economic development, healthcare, education?” They almost always said the latter. So people told us that war was not the answer. That after eight years of U.S. presence and billions of dollars being thrown into this conflict that the lives of people, especially those living outside of Kabul have virtually stayed the same, and that even women who know that the Taliban has had a very retrograde position in terms of women’s rights, even they told us that, look, the majority of Taliban are just poor villagers who don’t have another way to earn a living. We’ve got to reintegrate them into society, we’ve got to have peace talks and we’ve got to find ways other than through guns and bombs that we solve this conflict.

I’d like to show you Code Pink’s website logo:

Note that they are “Women for Peace.” Code Pink is very upfront with its complaints about human rights abuses, having a petition leading to this on their front page. So, I have to ask: has no thought at all been given to what would happen in Afghanistan if Code Pink got its way concerning policy?

A very brilliant man, Vincent Davis, was one of my professors at the University of Kentucky. It’s been a long time since I was in college, but there are a few lessons that I can remember like they were yesterday. Dr Davis, then the Director of the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, said, very simply, if you have the power to do something, and choose not to do it, you have taken just as positive an action as if you had done it. If we choose to leave Afghanistan with the Taliban undefeated, and in fact gaining, we will be allowing their return to power. Mrs Benjamin remembered the Taliban’s “very retrograde position in terms of women’s rights” — how’s that for a euphemism? — but she, the founder of Code Pink, an organization so very dedicated to human rights and women’s rights, would soft-peddle just how the Taliban governed and how women, in particular, were treated under Taliban rule.

From Wikipedia:

Under the Taliban regime, Sharia law was interpreted to ban a wide variety of activities hitherto lawful in Afghanistan: employment, education and sports for women, movies, television, videos, music, dancing, hanging pictures in homes, clapping during sports events, kite flying, and beard trimming. One Taliban list of prohibitions included:

pork, pig, pig oil, anything made from human hair, satellite dishes, cinematography, and equipment that produces the joy of music, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, VCRs, television, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards.

Men were required to have a beard extending farther than a fist clamped at the base of the chin. On the other hand, they had to wear their head hair short. Men were also required to wear a head covering.

Possession was forbidden of depictions of living things, whether drawings, paintings or photographs, stuffed animals, and dolls.

The Taliban are a predominantly Pashtun radical Sunni religious and political movement; they combine a very strict form of Islamism with Pashtun nationalism, and under Taliban rule the other ethnic groups in Afghanistan were subjected to Pashtun dominance.

Our well-intentioned pacifist friends have to realize just what their ideology means: in adhering to a policy of American withdrawal, they are concomitantly supporting the consequences of such, consequences which look very much like the reclaiming of political power by the Taliban, and the reinstitution of the Taliban’s version of shari’a law.

it’s not like everything will be warm and fuzzy and peaceful if NATO troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan. The Taliban will probably return to power, democracy will die, human rights will be vastly restricted, and al Qaeda will once again have a safe haven. Does Medea Benjamin realize this? Does she even care?

President Bush was unfortunately wrong about one thing: he believed that once people had democracy and experience with democracy, they would just naturally like it and flock to it. Regrettably, that has not proven to be the case. But there was a basic decency about the man, a decency which didn’t like seeing other people being oppressed.

Now we see President Obama, a decent enough man himself, but one who approaches problems differently. What President Bush was attempting to do in Afghanistan was hard work, harder work than the tools President Bush gave our military allowed them to do, but it was still a noble idea and a worthwhile mission. President Obama, facing far less of a problem in Iraq, now has the opportunity to give our military more tools for the tasks in Afghanistan, yet, if the leaked reports concerning his decisions are accurate, will not do so, but will allow the Taliban to return to some official power.

That would be naïve in the extreme: the Taliban aren’t some political party who would share power democratically; the Taliban are a military organization who seek to seize and control total power. They are seeking military conquest in neighboring Pakistan as well, and Pakistan has atomic weapons.

As much as we dislike war — and as the father of two soldiers I have two very personal reasons to not want war — sometimes the price of a sham peace and withdrawal in the face of resistance is much higher.

17 Comments

  1. Someone said “Sometimes the opposite of war is not peace. Sometimes it is slavery.” Either here or on Patterico’s Pontifications. And I fully agree. If you’re not willing to go to war for anything, you are willing to be enslaved.

    “The best defense is a good offense.” That works in football and in military diplomacy. If we have an overwhelming capacity to defeat any nation, no sensible nation will attack us. If we are willing to use that capacity, sensible nations will learn where the “line in the sand” is and not cross it.

    But that was then, this is now. We need to have a willingness to attack the non-national enemy wherever it is. Not only a willingness, but an active search-and-destroy, because the non-national enemy is more than willing to “martyr” themselves with every opportunity. A flood in the Philippines and the US Navy with a Marine Corps contingent comes to the humanitarian rescue? Opportunity to kill US military personnel!

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. My daughter is in the US Army. I want terrorists targeting our military and not our civilians. So long as our military is seeking them out to destroy them, the terrorists will remain heavily engaged with our military and less engaged with our civilians. And that’s a good thing.

  2. I would also like to get a reasoned answer to something. But I doubt there is any reasoned answer.

    Why do peace “dove” protest marches result in violent person-on-person crime, violent vandalism, and anarchistic terroristic tactics? And why do war “hawk” marches result in peaceful activity, clean streets and parks, and over-all civil behavior? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  3. Mr Pico sent me an email, notifying me he updated my comment with a jpeg. Since I proudly display that jpeg, in a larger fashion, in the left-hand column of my blog, I whole-heartedly approve of its being added to my above comment. Again, I want the terrorists trying to kill our military, and not our civilians. And my daughter is part of that military I want the terrorists targeting. That way, our military can kill the terrorists.

  4. Dana: “If we choose to leave Afghanistan with the Taliban undefeated, and in fact gaining, we will be allowing their return to power.”

    Damn it, Dana, you just don’t get it: Defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan is none of our business. The Taliban did not attack us, we attacked them. Moreover, is there even any credible evidence that the Taliban harbors al-Qaeda I am not aware of any.

    Please, think again about your ideology: American hegemony, American unilateralism, American superiority — we must not continue this way, otherwise we will increase opposition and animosity toward us globally, understandably so. Let us focus internally to make ourselves a better people and country, an example to be observed, hopefully followed, not an ideology to be forced down the throats of others.

    It is the responsibility of the Afghans to rid themselves of the Taliban, if they so desire. If a duly elected Afghan government were to ask for our assistance, then we should consider how we might do that. However, Karzai was put in place as our puppet, and now has been elected President in a very questionable election. Thus, our position vis-a-vis our war in Afghanistan is more difficult than ever to either justify or sustain.

    Like Viet Nam and Iraq, we have placed ourselves in another quagmire in Afghanistan.

    Again, we need to gradually withdraw and instead, focus our resources on homeland security, which is the only sustainable and moral course that we can take, in my view. Fighting our wars in other lands has got to stop. If there is any fighting to be done, it must be right here, defending our homeland, or done directly against those who have attacked or post an imminent threat. The Taliban does not fit into that category, nor did Saddam Hussein; al-Qaeda does! This is what code pink is all about!!

  5. Damn it, Dana, you just don’t get it: Defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan is none of our business. The Taliban did not attack us, we attacked them. Moreover, is there even any credible evidence that the Taliban harbors al-Qaeda I am not aware of any.

    They did in 2001, which is why we attacked them. That makes them our enemy, and is a good reason to defeat them once and for all. Another reason is they are some of the worst thugs ever to rule a country, and if they spread into Pakistan and even take over that country, they’ll get nuclear weapons.

  6. Perry has been on this kick lately of rejecting history and all existence of proof of events. And when evidence is brought before him, he refuses to even acknowledge it. Perry lacks all credibility. And, as he demanded, he should really get some credibility and keep silent until he does.

  7. Perry has gone to the dark side. The Neville Chamberlain route of “Peace at any price”. Slavery and subjugation is the result and World War is the inevitability of such thinking. If you refuse to learn from history…….

  8. Perry:
    Damn it, Dana, you just don’t get it: Defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan is none of our business. The Taliban did not attack us, we attacked them. Moreover, is there even any credible evidence that the Taliban harbors al-Qaeda I am not aware of any.

    Perry, the recent attack on the Pakistani Pentagon over the last two days was a combination of Al-Q and the Taliban. Please take your blinders off. I think you are smarter than this.

  9. It’s not that Perry doesn’t see; it’s that Perry refuses to see, as I have shown repeatedly over these past several days. Perry has shown himself to be a liberal shill with a complete lack of integrity or credibility in multiple threads. (But isn’t that what it takes to push the liberal party-line? A complete lack of integrity or credibility?)

  10. Yorkshire:“Perry, the recent attack on the Pakistani Pentagon over the last two days was a combination of Al-Q and the Taliban. Please take your blinders off. I think you are smarter than this.”

    Best estimates I’ve heard is that there currently about 100 al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

    Re the attack on the Pakistani Pentagon: “He [Interior Minister Rehman Malik] said members of the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda were suspected to be behind the attack in Rawalpindi.”

    We assume the two are connected, as I have seen it alleged that al-Qaeda is financing the Taliban, not a surprise since the two have an enemy in common, us! I think that, just as in Iraq, our jihad against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan is exactly that, a jihad. So of course they will defend themselves and fight for their cause. We need to reduce our footprint by encouraging Afghan and Pakistinian nationalist fight these terrorists. That should be our strategy!

    We can’t win in Afghanistan with our current tactics to fight the Taliban insurgents and al-Qaeda. To win is to leave a stable Afghan government, eventually. To do this, we need to train and support the Afghans to fight their insurgency themselves. Like in Iraq, we ought to befriend and support tribal leaders. Therefore, instead of sending more combat troops, we ought to be replacing combat troops with trainers and negotiators, while using special forces where needed to go after al-Qaeda and other terrorist extremists. Simultaneously, we need to enhance our cooperation with the Pakistani government’s efforts to combat the terrorists in the border regions.

    I don’t know whether or not you watched Fareed Zakaria’s show in CNN today, because it was most informative. He had as his guest two experts from the Council on Foreign Nations (a conservative think tank), and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US. If you go here, you will find a tremendous amount of good information on terrorists, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, wrt what America might think about doing now.

    If you are really serious about trying to understand the status in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you must go to Fareed’s web page, as per the above link.

  11. Perry, “we” don’t have a “jihad” against muslims. Do get your facts straight. You are an out-of-tune “Christmas Bell” in an out-of-tune anti-Christmas orchestra. Do you need someone here to show you the myriad videos of happy Iraqis with blue fingers? Do you need someone here to give you first-hand experience of Iraqis thanking our military? (Oops, my daughter already did that but you continue on in your idiocy.) Do you need a liberal to tell you Iraqis want our military there? (Oops, blu already blindly told everyone to read that book (Love My Rifle More Than You) despite the fact she didn’t read it.)

    In your words, until you gain some credibility, keep silent.

  12. Perry wrote:

    We assume the two are connected, as I have seen it alleged that al-Qaeda is financing the Taliban, not a surprise since the two have an enemy in common, us!

    Yet, in 2001, when al Qaeda attacked the United States and the Taliban were providing safe haven for them, we were no enemy to the Taliban. Indeed, we had helped the Afghainis kick out the Soviets; we should have been their friends. Kind of falls under the “how sharper than a serpent’s tooth” formulation.

    We need to reduce our footprint by encouraging Afghan and Pakistinian nationalist fight these terrorists. That should be our strategy!

    You think we haven’t? The problem is that the Taliban and al Qaeda are stronger than the governments we would like to encourage.

    Pakistan has atomic weapons; we cannot take any chances that such would fall into the hands of either the Taliban or al Qaeda. Policies based on hope, policies based on the notion that we shouldn’t try to impose our will on others, all pale beside the need to keep atomic weapons out of the hands of the Islamists.

  13. There are some simple-minded folks who see geopolitics as a game of checkers rather than a multi-dimensional game of chess.

    World War II was rather conventional and one ally turned into an adversary after the formal end of hostilities. Gratitude is seldom a factor in the Really Great Game.

    When Truman rejected the postwar idiocy planned by FDR, he made himself the target of temporary scorn. Neo-isolationists loathed NATO and the Marshall Plan. Many right-wing types mistook containment for a return to appeasement. Mistakes were made but the net result was the freeing of the captive nations. What was a Third World War is being followed by a fourth. One can wish it would go away and engage in incremental surrender in the guise of ‘Diplomacy’.

    Diplomacy is more than people in formal attire playing games with paper. It is meaningful only when there is a military force behind it and the willingness to use it as needed.

    Our intervention in Afghanistan under Reagan was a continuation of the Great Game that was once played between the British and Russian Empires. That proxy war succeeded in turning the USSR into something a bit less threatening. Russians are still sulking, regardless of their flag and form of government. It is their way.

    We have no interest in ‘occupying’ Afghanistan or Iraq in the sense that Germany and the USSR occupied Czechoslovakia and Poland.

    American exceptionalism should not be sacrificed.

  14. our jihad against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan is exactly that, a jihad.

    This is ridiculous. There is no “Jihad” against Muslims by America anywhere. There was a war specifically against the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan, and later Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but never have we targeted Muslims as a whole.

    You should be ashamed of yourself for making such a comment!

  15. American exceptionalism should not be sacrificed.

    Agreed 100%. But now that Obama has his Nobel Appeasement Prize, all bets are off. He sticks it to our allies while sucking up to our foes. He’s either Jimmy Carter or Neville Chamberlain redux.

  16. Eric:
    American exceptionalism should not be sacrificed.

    Agreed 100%. But now that Obama has his Nobel Appeasement Prize, all bets are off. He sticks it to our allies while sucking up to our foes. He’s either Jimmy Carter or Neville Chamberlain redux.

    I think Chamberlain acknowledged his mistakes, Carter keeps amplifying his.

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