GOOD

Peshawar Politics

What the Pashtun can teach America about foreign policy.


What the Pashtun Can Teach America about Foreign Policy.

Peshawar, Pakistan Here, at the base of the fabled Khyber Pass, the British Raj not only trained the famous Khyber Rifle Regiment but, knowing they were in for a long haul, also built a rail network and the structures that are still used as civil and army offices to oversee Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province. The guest book of the Khan Klub, a Peshawar guesthouse, is filled with thank you notes from British tourists who are still welcome here. By contrast, throughout the 1980s, America used Pakistan as a base from which to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, and all Pakistan got in return was several million refugees who now overwhelm Peshawar's once bustling bazaars. The blessing of being an oasis near the rugged peaks of the Afghan-Pakistani border has long since become a curse.Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recently led a Congressional delegation to Pakistan and Afghanistan to urge the two countries' embattled leaders to work together on routing Taliban forces straddling their porous border, and Vice President Dick Cheney recently visited the region as well to reiterate Congress's threat of cuts in military aid if they fail to do so. But this borderland is not truly part of any country. It belongs to the Pashtun people who have lived here for centuries, and who care little for the nominal existence of states called Afghanistan or Pakistan. This is their country-all others are invaders. It is widely believed that Osama bin Laden is hiding among the Pashtun, who gave birth to Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Certainly, if bin Laden is not here already, he would be welcome any time.
Quote:
Military might does not scare those who wore down the Soviet Union.
But the Pashtun are an ally America badly needs in the struggle to pacify this region where Taliban and al Qaeda freely roam. The Pashtun are considered to be among the world's fiercest tribes, but in fact they have survived because of their strict code of honor and sense of humanity. Military might does not scare those who wore down the Soviet Union. Rather, like all people, the Pashtun respond to incentives that focus on meeting their basic needs. The way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.Rather than view the Pashtun as bin Laden's accomplices and protectors, we should allow them to use him as their bargaining chip in exchange for more resources devoted to giving them a better life. America and the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan must put more on the table than army incursions and the wanton destruction of tribal homes and local schools by unmanned aircraft if they ever hope to reduce sympathy for the Taliban and al Qaeda. Ordering Pakistan to send in more troops to be slaughtered by far craftier Pashtun tribal forces only piques local resentment against both the government and its American patrons, while creating an ever-growing demand for more military equipment that Pakistan doesn't need. Pakistan has become the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, but even half that money would be put to better use creating jobs and livelihoods for the Pashtun rather than assaulting them in their own homes.The British were never as cruel as the Pakistani Army is-and they knew that improving tribal welfare was crucial to their success. The U.S. and Pakistani governments instead hold on to the antiquated notion that providing aggrieved populations with resources will only spur their vengeful agendas. But as in Iraq, the ones fighting back are not so much insurgents as pious tribesmen defending their country against foreign interference-and they will continue to until some form of justice is achieved.For the country that created the Marshall Plan after WWII, it shouldn't be a radical departure to think more in terms of the Peace Corps than precision-guided missiles. Pakistan is only one example of how feeble and emasculated American engagement with foreign populations has become. The United States recently opened one of the State Department's mini-libraries-known as a "Lincoln Corner"-here, but it caters to the privileged university-going children of army officers, not illiterate refugees who have become the area's restive core. Meanwhile, it is the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and assorted humanitarian NGOs-not NATO or any other army-that have been doing the heavy lifting with far too few resources and for far too long.America is still the world's military superpower, but it is certainly not the only state with an interest in seeing that other societies' needs are met. The EU is by far the world's largest humanitarian donor, and China's rising trade and aid presence in Latin America and Africa shows that it, too, can compete to assist and influence developing countries. Restoring America's stature in the world begins with focusing on these fundamentals for people like the Pashtun, rather than treating them all as fundamentalists.
Articles

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At this point most reasonable people agree that climate change is a serious problem. And while a lot of good people are working on solutions, and we're all chipping in by using fewer plastic bags, it's also helpful to understand where the leading causes of the issue stem from. The list of 20 leading emitters of carbon dioxide by The Guardian newspaper does just that.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via International Labour Organization / Flickr and Michael Moore / Facebook

Before the release of "The Joker" there was a glut of stories in the media about the film's potential to incite violence.

The FBI issued a warning, saying the film may inspire violence from a group known as the Clowncels, a subgroup of the involuntarily celibate or Incel community.

Incels an online subculture who believe they are unable to attract a sexual partner. The American nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center describes them as "part of the online male supremacist ecosystem" that is included in its list of hate groups.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture