I have a copy of the New York Times at my house; this is the January 31 issue, and I have been looking at one particular article. It is about Afghanistan (Af), and I had found it hard to read.
Before throwing away the newspaper into the garbage can, I thought to try again. Finally I got somewhere.
Sometimes Asperger's Syndrome makes it hard but in any case on the last try, the piece did lay down much more nicely, or lay out, for me. This piece that I finally understood involves a kind of triangulation between Karzai or Afghanistan, the Taliban, and the U.S. One of the article's themes is that of an attempted office to be opened by the Taliban and this is in someplace like I think Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Or maybe Pakistan. Right? I am still not sure if Pakistan was one of the places. Nevertheless the article, on this latest attempt, became a lot more friendly to me. Thanks, article. Why was the piece so difficult for so long? Maybe because it is dumb.
It is dumb. This is all happening in Afghanistan, of course. The U.S. behavior seems dumb. It seems real dumb, from where I sit. Here's why.
When you negotiate, in the context of the culture of Af, you have accepted the legitimacy of the other party.
According to the public statements of the U.S., under Bush, the government of the U.S. "will never negotiate with the terrorists," etc. This may be slightly dated, but this is the information that the American citizens are allowed to have. Going by that general kind of understanding, one is justified in thinking that the U.S. fights terrorism. It does not accept the terrorism.
It's totally absurd. The U.S. went into Af in 2001, directly consequent to the terrorist attack in new York.
Now, the paper is telling me, the U.S. is encouraging talks with the Taliban, for which they need an office, which does not in my opinion correspond to the original idea of why we were in Af. This is just plain dumb.
This is why I am once again reminded of the deep or intuitive similarity of Af to Vietnam. In either case one wants to ask: "why are we in Afghanistan?" in much the spirit not of Iraq, but rather of Vietnam. The feeling one gets in opposing the U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, if one did so, would be much the same as the feeling we had when we had similar concerns regarding Vietnam in the sixties and early seventies, which I was alive for and experienced.
There is the problem that the idea to "allow the Taliban to open an office in Qatar" [NYT, p. A6] is a U.S. idea and not an idea coming from the other parties, the T. or the Af.