Afghanistan's Fragile But Vital Democracy…

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….has a man facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity. U.S. President George W. Bush, the father of modern Afghan democracy, is "troubled."

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  1. So, should we impose our values on them, or not?

  2. It’s amazing that anybody ever believed all this “democracy building” in the first place. After all what are our options for imposing democracy on an anti-democratic culture:
    1) Overtly dictate the structure of their government, requiring liberal democracy as the foundation.
    2) Covertly pull strings behind the scenes, and surreptitiously steer them toward liberal democracy
    3) Allow the situation to unfold according to the wishes of the populace.

    Now, clearly 3) will not work, because they’re just going to choose to build another house on the same foundation, 1) will get you up to your forehead in insurgents crying “Occupation!”

    So we’re left with 2), which appears to be what was tried at least in Iraq with Ahmed Chalabi, the CIA asset who got let’s see about 1% of the vote for his block in Iraq.

    If anyone was convinced that democracy building in Iraq (or Afghanistan, for that matter) could work, would you please let me know how you initially thought this was possible? Luck? Providence? Better spooks? What?

  3. If only we shared their values on this issue.

  4. What’s un-democratic about it? If a majority wants to kill apostates, presumably true in Afghanistan, sounds democratic to me.

    Illiberal, folks, illiberal.

    Democracy probably doesnt enter into it.

  5. So, should we impose our values on them, or not?

    You make it sound like we have different values from them in the first place. Zero-tolerance is zero-tolerance, what specifically you are zero-tolerant about doesn’t really matter.

  6. From another story, the Afghan gov’t is trying to find a way out. They’re trying this: “We think he could be mad. He is not a normal person. He doesn’t talk like a normal person.”

    That’s precious….”We think he could be mad.” So they want to drop the case.

    How bizarre.

    Remember how their constition was going to allow Islam to inform the law, but not BE the law? But then nobody told the judges? Ha ha! That was just a joke!

  7. This has nothing to do with religion. Under the inter-province commerce clause the new Afghan government can regulate anything they like. Since being a Christian means he’d have to consume communion wafers made from wheat, and since growing wheat affects interprovince commerce, clearly the Afghan government has the authority to regulate his religious conduct.

  8. Remember how their constition was going to allow Islam to inform the law, but not BE the law? But then nobody told the judges? Ha ha! That was just a joke!

    You mean to say that the intent got messed up?

    -and-

    What if he had converted to Hindu instead, or Scientology or better yet, Satanism? Would dubbya find it disturbing?

  9. I guess they were savages all along. Let the nuking commence

  10. “No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”

    G.W. Bush

  11. On the one hand I would say, it’s their country let them do what they want. But if this is what they want, then they shouldn’t expect me (in my case Dutch, with our soldiers going there shortly) to support risking our soldiers’ lives to help them create their particular kind of ‘democracy.’ On the other hand, the truth is that Afghanistan can still revert, partially at least, to a safe haven for extreme islamists.

    It seems that the way this ‘war on terror’ has been waged under Bush’s ‘leadership’, unilateralism and strong-arming of allies, has led us all to somewhere between a rock and a hard place. No way out but down.

  12. Do you have a source for that quote schempf?

  13. You’ve never heard the president’s dad say that, Zach? It’s practically common knowledge.

  14. Damn, I hope people don’t start attributing to me stuff my Dad has said.

  15. schempf,

    that was George H.W. Bush, not George W. While it seems that Dubya feels the same way, he ‘s actually gone out of his way in speeches to say we should respect Americans of every faith, and of no faith. No, I don’t have a cite handy.

  16. Whoops, that’s right. The “H” is missing in the name of the vile bigot who said that about atheists.

  17. This is what wikiquote says about it:

    “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”
    No title, Free Inquiry 8(4), Fall 1988, p. 16 [2], quoting August 27, 1987, press-conference exchange with Robert Sherman at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush

    I forget, are wikis the large, hairy Star Wars creatures or the small, hairy Star Wars creatures?

  18. So, should we impose our values on them, or not?

    Let’s take a vote; later we can blame everyone else.

    “No, I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens … “

    The feeling is mutual.

    “Democracy is … the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.” – Mencken

  19. I want to see something a little more solid than wikipedia on the Bush I quote. I find it difficult to beleive that the media would not have been all over him on that. It reeks of urban myth, which would not be the first nor the last time wikipedia has perpetuated an urban myth.

  20. I find it difficult to beleive that the media would not have been all over him on that.

    Yeah, what with the way the media normally leaps to the defense of atheists. Surely you’ve noticed the huge “Atheism” section of your nearest metro daily’s Saturday or Sunday edition?

    PS The source, since you couldn’t read it (I guess?) was: Free Inquiry 8(4), Fall 1988, p. 16 [2], quoting August 27, 1987, press-conference exchange with Robert Sherman at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. I recall this being reported contemporaneously at the time, actually.

  21. I believe George H.W. Bush also once denounced his opponent, Dukakis, as a “card carrying member of the ACLU”.

  22. We expect them to honor the universal principle of freedom,” Bush said. “I’m troubled when I hear, deeply troubled when I hear, the fact that a person who converted away from Islam may be held to account.

    Like his dismay over a proposal to require a passport to cross over from Mexico or Canada, this appears to be one more sign of the man’s incorrigible narcissism. Anyone half paying attention to events in Iraq and Afghanistan will see all kinds of Islamist ugliness being perpetrated, both through law and vigilante enforcement. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a word from Dubya on most of it. But come across one story of a guy being arrested for converting to Christianity, and this born-again evangelical is up in arms.

    Then again, it might not be narcissism at all. Maybe James Dobson gave Bush a call and told him to deal with this issue pronto.

  23. John, it’s a legit quote. I’ve seen a video of it.

  24. To me, there are obvious differences between Afghanistan and Iraq, differences that seem to get lost sometimes.

    I hope only for good things for the good people of Afghanistan–really I do. …and thinking, well-meaning people everywhere should denounce intolerance and injustice wherever and whenever they see it.

    …but as far as American foreign policy is concerned, I really don’t care if Afghanistan turns into an outpost of backward thought, but if their government ever starts collaborating with the terrorists that attacked our country, then we should do whatever it takes to defend ourselves. Honestly, I don’t really buy into the clash of civilizations stuff–if you want to build yourself a fundamentalist Islamic nation, knock yourself out. …just don’t mess with the United States of America.

    I think there’s a tendency to hold the President accountable for what happens on the ground in Iraq because he took responsibility for what would happen on the ground in Iraq as a justification for his elective war. To my mind, when the President took it upon himself to remake Muslim culture by way of Iraq, he may as well have taken it upon himself to sprout wings and fly. I might want to point out the uselessness of his efforts in order to discourage him, but I sure as hell don’t want to fault him for not increasing the scope of those efforts to include the rest of the Muslim world.

    We are not responsible to the people of Afghanistan for remaking their culture. Our government has a responsibility to make sure that the nation of Afghanistan no longer threatens the American people–and that’s it. If we don’t want the President to undertake the remaking of the Muslim world in our image, then why would we hold him responsible for intolerance in Afghanistan?

  25. The road to Damascus don’t go through Afghanistan, do it?

  26. Our tax money goes to support this government dominated by Muslim religious nut balls. And in Israel, whose government always gets more of our tax dollars than any other regime, Sharon actually supported racist “Jews Only” housing laws on government land in open discrimination against Israel’s own Arab citizens. This was a bow to the resident fundamentalist Jewish religious nut balls that he made political league with:

  27. Rick Barton,
    You’ve posted here many times.
    When will you learn that anything any government does is wrong, wrong, wrong?
    Then you could move on?
    If you want to.

  28. Jennifer said:
    “Whoops, that’s right. The “H” is missing in the name of the vile bigot who said that about atheists.”

    Below is the obit in today’s paper of an atheist acquaintance from the Sinincincinnati Free Inquiry Group.
    He was a pretty cool atheist… and his widow is as well.

    HARPER Stanley E. Jr. Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati Law School. Beloved husband of Marja Barrett Harper and the late Ruth Harper and Rosemary Harper. Devoted father of Ann (Eric) Harper Hanson, Deborah Lee (Dion ) Alexander and Karen Louise (Virgil) Sweeden. Loving Grandfather of Ryan Michael Luken. Passed away Friday, March 17, 2006 at the age of 84 years. Memorial service 11 A.M. Saturday, March 25th at the Norman Chapel at Spring Grove Cemetery. Sympathy may be expressed in the form of a memorial contribution to the University of Cincinnati Foundation, 51 Goodman Dr. Cincinnati, OH 45219 or the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation, 652 Main St. Cincinnati, OH 45202.

  29. Ruthless,

    Now, you think any government is wrong, wrong, wrong cuz you’re an anarchist, and I wish you folks good luck cuz we certainly need to move in your direction.

    I don’t know if I believe in zero government but I would certainly prefer anarchy to the hyper-archist monstrosity that we have now.

  30. Then you could move on?
    If you want to.

    Are you Hinting that I shouldn’t comment here any more? 🙁

    🙂

  31. So give them the opportunity to reject the law. There must be a thousand remnants of the 12th Centruy in the culture that have to be unchoses, one by one.

  32. Are you Hinting that I shouldn’t comment here any more? 🙁

    🙂

    Rick Barton,
    Certainly not.
    I meant move to a higher and more comfortable place spiritually.
    Spiritually?

  33. RC Dean,

    Yes, we should impose our values on them. Vigorously.

    We should invade their country, topple their government, and rout any military and paramilitary forces that oppose us. Once that’s out of the way, we should install a hand-picked exile, hold elections in which only parties we approve of can run, and have them draw up a Constitution that will incorporate democratic processes and human rights protections. Just to be safe, we should maintain a fairly large military presence, so as to fight off attacks by those who oppose our mission.

    That will solve problems like this. It couldn’t possibly fail.

  34. If we don’t want the President to undertake the remaking of the Muslim world in our image, then why would we hold him responsible for intolerance in Afghanistan?

    OMG, I think I just defended the President! …in a way.

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