English: Nobel Peace Prize 2009, Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban, met with President Obama and told him that the use of US drones in Pakistan is fueling terrorism. I agree. Good for you Malala. You may not have won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, but you are doing much good for the cause of peace.
Afghanistan (Photo credit: Ricymar Fine Art Photography)
As we did in Vietnam, I think that we should declare victory in Afghanistan and withdraw. We have driven al-Qaeda out of the country and into Pakistan, and we have punished the Afghan people enough for harboring bin Laden. After we withdraw, sooner or later, the Afghans themselves will decide their own government. It may include the Taliban or it may be a coalition of warlords. The Afghan people are tired of war and will welcome peace, any peace. The sooner we withdraw, the sooner they can start to sort out their own problems. We cannot impose a solution; only the Afghans can decide Afghanistan’s future.
Cover of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday is an excellent novel made into a movie which my wife and I saw last evening. The movie version is very funny and I recommend it highly. It is a bit changed from the book. Unfortunately, the movie is not getting the attention it deserves. There were only four of us in the audience.
Most of the action in the movie takes place in London and Scotland. Only a small portion of the movie is in Yemen, which is too bad. Americans need to know more about the country that produced the bin Laden family and is the home of 20 million warring tribesmen, each having an average 4 guns apiece. Think of Afghanistan as the birthplace of the Taliban and Pakistan as the incubator for producing more Taliban. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of al-Qaeda and Yemen is the current incubator for producing more members of al-Qaeda.
Yemen is rugged, desert country with much life and natural beauty in certain valleys. For about a year now, it has lacked an effective central government to maintain peace and order within the country. The Yemenis are a hospitable people with a custom, shown briefly in the movie, that I especially respect. Travellers are greeted with a chilled drink of water whenever they appear and however far the bearer of the water must go to offer the drink. Just think of the effort required to carry a heavy jug of water over a distance in the often blazing heat of midday in a Yemeni summer.
education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)
Pakistan is one the most poorly educated nations on earth. They spend 2% of GNP on education and 30% on defense. That leaves a tremendous vacuum to be filled and the Saudis have rushed to fill it with madrassas that turn out more and more of the Taliban. We can follow the Pakistani example as advocated by the GOP, more cuts in education and more money for defense. Just follow the GOP sponsored budget in the House this summer and fall.
Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)
Pakistan supports the Taliban in Afghanistan and tolerates the Taliban in Pakistan. This is true because Pakistan regards India as its principal adversary and wants a friendly or neutral Afghanistan at its back. Pakistan’s government is divided among several factions in the military and the intelligence service, with one faction acting in opposition, usually in secret, to another.
The people of Pakistan are overwhelming united in their opposition to the US operating drones within Pakistani airspace. Pakistan needs more helicopters to fight the Taliban within Pakistan and it needs the will to do so effectively. It would be useful to the Pakistanis if the US would renounce the use of drones within Pakistan. Transferring the operation of drones within Pakistan to the Pakistani government would defuse a source of tension between their government and ours. It would also allow the government of Pakistan to determine how to fight the Taliban in each situation as it arises.
The ultimate solution to the problem of the Taliban within Pakistan is peace between India and Pakistan. They have been at loggerheads since the partition of British India into two countries in 1947. Peace between them will not be easy to achieve, but it is necessary because both have nuclear weapons. Once peace is achieved, there will be a peace dividend. Pakistan will be able to better the life of its citizens and not be so dependent on foreign aid from the US or Saudi Arabia. It is Saudi Arabia that finances the madrassas in Pakistan that produce the Taliban.