It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn't make everything all right. It didn't make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird's flight. But I'll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting. - Amir
I know you're still young but I want you to understand and learn this now. Marriage can wait, education cannot. You're a very very bright girl. Truly you are. You can be anything you want Laila. I know this about you. And I also know that when this war is over Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated Laila. No chance.
Who are your favorite heroines in real life? The women of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran who risk their lives and their beauty to defy the foulness of theocracy. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi as their ideal feminine model.
Like the Nazis, the cadres of jihad have a death wish that sets the seal on their nihilism. The goal of a world run by an oligarchy in possession of Teutonic genes, who may kill or enslave other 'races' according to need, is not more unrealizable than the idea that a single state, let alone the globe itself, could be governed according to the dictates of an allegedly holy book. This mad scheme begins by denying itself the talents (and the rights) of half the population, views with superstitious horror the charging of interest, and invokes the right of Muslims to subject nonbelievers to special taxes and confiscations. Not even Afghanistan or Somalia, scenes of the furthest advances yet made by pro-caliphate forces, could be governed for long in this way without setting new standards for beggary and decline.
In the time that we're here today, more women and children will die violently in the Darfur region than in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel or Lebanon. So, after September 30, you won't need the UN - you will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones.
Peace is not so much a political mandate as it is a shared state of consciousness that remains elevated and intact only to the degree that those who value it volunteer their existence as living examples of the same... Peace ends with the unraveling of individual hope and the emergence of the will to worship violence as a healer of private and social dis-ease.
Hassan and I looked at each other. Cracked up. The Hindi kid would soon learn what the British learned earlier in the century, and what the Russians would eventually learn by the late 1980's: that Afghans are an independent people. Afghans cherish customs but abhor rules. And so it was with kite fighting. The rules were simple: No rules. Fly your kite. Cut the opponents. Good luck.
[I]f you think that American imperialism and its globalised, capitalist form is the most dangerous thing in the world, that means you don't think the Islamic Republic of Iran or North Korea or the Taliban is as bad.
Organisasi-organisasi raksasa dengan momok birokrasi yang rumit terus berbicara tentang konsep-konsep dan solusi dalam "bahasa langit", sementara kaki mereka tak menjejak pada kehidupan akar rumput rakyat Afghan yang sebenarnya. Anak-anak jalanan masih saja bertebaran di mana-mana. Perempuan masih bersembunyi. Jalan masih berdebu. Rumah-rumah belum tersentuh listrik dan air.
First Afghanistan, now Iraq. So who's next? Syria? North Korea? Iran? Where will it all end?' If these illegal interventions are permitted to continue, the implication seems to be, pretty soon, horror of horrors, no murderously repressive regimes might remain.
Even the air of this country has a story to tell about warfare. It is possible here to lift a piece of bread from a plate and following it back to its origins, collect a dozen stories concerning war-how it affected the hand that pulled it out of the oven, the hand that kneaded the dough, how war impinged upon the field where wheat was grown.
As to the 'Left' I'll say briefly why this was the finish for me. Here is American society, attacked under open skies in broad daylight by the most reactionary and vicious force in the contemporary world, a force which treats Afghans and Algerians and Egyptians far worse than it has yet been able to treat us. The vaunted CIA and FBI are asleep, at best. The working-class heroes move, without orders and at risk to their lives, to fill the moral and political vacuum. The moral idiots, meanwhile, like Falwell and Robertson and Rabbi Lapin, announce that this clerical aggression is a punishment for our secularism. And the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, hitherto considered allies on our 'national security' calculus, prove to be the most friendly to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Here was a time for the Left to demand a top-to-bottom house-cleaning of the state and of our covert alliances, a full inquiry into the origins of the defeat, and a resolute declaration in favor of a fight to the end for secular and humanist values: a fight which would make friends of the democratic and secular forces in the Muslim world. And instead, the near-majority of 'Left' intellectuals started sounding like Falwell, and bleating that the main problem was Bush's legitimacy. So I don't even muster a hollow laugh when this pathetic faction says that I, and not they, are in bed with the forces of reaction.
Women in my country take their rights for granted and completely dissociate themselves from the women's rights movement and feminism. But I think anything's possible. If I don't help the women in Afghanistan, they won't be around to help me.
In fact, I couldn't help thinking that despite their height, adults were just plain unbelievably stupid: men were blowing up other men; soldiers were shooting at children; men were ignoring women they loved; the women who loved them pretended they didn't; and when I read the newspapers to Pir Hederi everyone they talked about seemed to be far more interested in rules and arguments and taking sides than the actual business of living.
An intelligent enemy,' he would say, stroking his beard as if it were a bristly pet, 'rather than a foolish friend.' Or, 'He learnt the language of pigeons, and forgot his own.' Or, the favourite of Jan Fishan Khan: 'Nothing is what it seems.
All my life my dad felt this need to protect his kids from a war he fought, a war I believed could never reach out and touch us, could never hurt us—and yet he fed us lies with his answers, shielding us from the truth about what he did there, about what he saw, about who he was before the war, and about what he became because of it. He lied to protect us from his memories, from his nightmares. Standing with my dad at The Wall, I knew the truth—no one could know so many names engraved in granite if he 'never was in danger.
The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, they were getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood.
The chowdry, or burqa -- the Saudi, North African, and Central Asian version of the head, face, and body shroud -- is a sensory deprivation isolation chamber. It is claustrophobic, may lead to anxiety and depression, and reinforces a woman's already low self-esteem. It may also lead to vitamin D deficiency diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease. Sensory deprivation officially constitutes torture and is practiced as such in the world's prisons.
There was a time in my life when I did a fair bit of work for the tempestuous Lucretia Stewart, then editor of the American Express travel magazine, Departures . Together, we evolved a harmless satire of the slightly driveling style employed by the journalists of tourism. 'Land of Contrasts' was our shorthand for it. ('Jerusalem: an enthralling blend of old and new.' 'South Africa: a harmony in black and white.' 'Belfast, where ancient meets modern.') It was as you can see, no difficult task. I began to notice a few weeks ago that my enemies in the 'peace' movement had decided to borrow from this tattered style book. The mantra, especially in the letters to this newspaper, was: 'Afghanistan, where the world's richest country rains bombs on the world's poorest country.' Poor fools. They should never have tried to beat me at this game. What about, 'Afghanistan, where the world's most open society confronts the world's most closed one'? 'Where American women pilots kill the men who enslave women.' 'Where the world's most indiscriminate bombers are bombed by the world's most accurate ones.' 'Where the largest number of poor people applaud the bombing of their own regime.' I could go on. (I think number four may need a little work.) But there are some suggested contrasts for the 'doves' to paste into their scrapbook. Incidentally, when they look at their scrapbooks they will be able to re-read themselves saying things like, 'The bombing of Kosovo is driving the Serbs into the arms of Milosevic.
I'm done doing this!' Obama said, finally erupting. 'We've all agreed on a plan. And we're all going to stick to that plan. I haven't agreed to anything beyond that.' The 30,000 was a 'hard cap,' he said forcefully. 'I don't want enablers to be used as wiggle room. The easy thing for me to do - politically - would actually be to say no' to the 30,000. Then he gestured out the Oval Office windows, across the Potomac, in the direction of the Pentagon. Referring to Gates and the uniformed military, he said. 'They think it's the opposite. I'd be perfectly happy -' He stopped mid-sentence. 'Nothing would make Rahm happier than if I said no to the 30,000.' There was some subdued laughter. 'Rahm would tell me it'd be much easier to do what I want to do by saying no,' the president said. He could then focus on the domestic agenda that he wanted to be the heart of his presidency. The military did not understand. 'Politically, what these guys don't get is it'd be a lot easier for me to go out and give a speech saying, 'You know what? The American people are sick of this war, and we're going to get out of there.
I have this thought, it’s horrible, and it makes me sick, but it’s true: one day these students will grow up and have their own kids, and they’re going to name them for men and women who will die in this war.
Finally a soldier marched in and, holding his right hand to his chest, said, " Salaam aleikum. Chetor hastid? Jan-e-shoma jur ast? Khub hastid? Sahat-e-shoma khub ast? Be khair hastid? Jur hastid? Khane kheirat ast? Zinde bashi. " Which in Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian, means, "Peace be with you. How are you? Is your soul healthy? Are you well? Are you well? Are you healthy? Are you fine? Is your household flourishing? Long life to you." Or: "Hello.
Teaching isn’t rocket science. It’s about being engaged, listening, paying attention. Despite conventional wisdom, you don’t need to talk a lot to teach well. You do need to care, though. Not so much about what people think of you or whether or not they like you, but about the kids and doing what’s best for them.
This is my worst fear. It’s not keeping my students safe from terrorists, it’s knowing what to do when the Chaplain comes to take Johnny out of class because not letting the terrorists win means sometimes the good guys are going to die. And those good guys have kids, and they’re sitting in my classroom.
During an hour-long conversation mid-flight, he laid out his theory of the war. First, Jones said, the United States could not lose the war or be seen as losing the war. 'If we're not successful here,' Jones said, 'you'll have a staging base for global terrorism all over the world. People will say the terrorists won. And you'll see expressions of these kinds of things in Africa, South America, you name it. Any developing country is going to say, this is the way we beat [the United States], and we're going to have a bigger problem.' A setback or loss for the United States would be 'a tremendous boost for jihadist extremists, fundamentalists all over the world' and provide 'a global infusion of morale and energy, and these people don't need much.' Jones went on, using the kind of rhetoric that Obama had shied away from, 'It's certainly a clash of civilizations. It's a clash of religions. It's a clash of almost concepts of how to live.' The conflict is that deep, he said. 'So I think if you don't succeed in Afghanistan, you will be fighting in more places. 'Second, if we don't succeed here, organizations like NATO, by association the European Union, and the United Nations might be relegated to the dustbin of history.' Third, 'I say, be careful you don't over-Americanize the war. I know that we're going to do a large part of it,' but it was essential to get active, increased participation by the other 41 nations, get their buy-in and make them feel they have ownership in the outcome. Fourth, he said that there had been way too much emphasis on the military, almost an overmilitarization of the war. The key to leaving a somewhat stable Afghanistan in a reasonable time frame was improving governance and the rule of law, in order to reduce corruption. There also needed to be economic development and more participation by the Afghan security forces. It sounded like a good case, but I wondered if everyone on the American side had the same understanding of our goals. What was meant by victory? For that matter, what constituted not losing? And when might that happen? Could there be a deadline?
The lucky ones, the ones who weren't here when the place was getting bombed to hell. We're not like these people. We shouldn't pretend we are. The stories these people have to tell, we're not entitled to them.
Despite everything that has befallen us, do we not continue to hold the destiny of this shattered and magnificent nation, together with the future of all our children-girls and boys alike-in the palm of our hands?
The women in that ward were simple, ordinary refugee women. They came from villages or very small towns. Even before becoming refugees, they had been poor. They had no education. They had no notion of an outside world where life might be different. They were being treated for various ailments, but in the end, their gender was their ailment. In the first bed, a skinny fourteen-year-old girl lay rolled into her sheets in a state of almost catatonic unresponsiveness, eyes closed, not speaking even in reply to the doctor’s gentle greeting. Her family had brought her to be treated for mental illness, the doctor explained with regret. They had recently married her to a man in his seventies, a wealthy and influential personage by their standards. In their version of things, something had started mysteriously to go wrong with her mind as soon as the marriage was agreed upon – a case of demon possession, her family supposed. When, after repeated beatings, she still failed to cooperate gracefully with her new husband’s sexual demands, he had angrily returned her to her family and ordered them to fix this problem. They had taken the girl to a mullah, who had tried to expel the demon through prayers and by writing Quranic passages on little pieces of paper that had to be dissolved in water and then drunk, but this had brought no improvement, so the mullah had abandoned his diagnosis of demon possession and decided that the girl was sick. The family had brought her to the clinic, to be treated for insanity.
It’s hard to describe being an expatriate of sorts to people who’ve never lived overseas, but when you’re an American living in a geographically separated region within a country like Korea, you form bonds with people who you’d never associate with stateside.