Yesterday I wrote a bit about the American culture of self-centeredness and excess. (Again, in re our culture of excess, I highly recommend Andrew Bacevich's recent book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. In re the American culture of self-centeredness, you need simply have a look around you next time you're on the road, and see how many drivers are yapping into their cell-phones - or even texting - while at high speed.) If you'd like to see an almost heart-rending piece about a very different culture, check out this WaPo report about the Pashtuns of Pakistan, who are accepting impoverishment rather than allow fellow Pashtuns who are refugees from the ongoing fighting go without food and shelter.
But this report also documents the sowing of the seeds of a catastrophe that is largely flying under the American people's radar. More than a million Pakistanis - most of them Pashtun - have been uprooted, made homeless, impoverished by the war that the Pakistani army is now waging with the Taliban, at the US's insistence. Many of the refugees are fed up with the Taliban, whose extremism they often saw firsthand as the Taliban moved into their villages and towns; but many are angry with the Pakistani forces (most of whom are not Pashtuns, but Punjabis - an altogether different ethnic group that has no special affection for Pashtuns) as well as with the US, and see the Pakistani army as fighting the US's war. Such people can be fairly easy pickings for recruitment into the Taliban ranks - and, as the WaPo report makes clear, a situation of thousands displaced and on the move also provides the Taliban a golden opportunity to infiltrate more villages and regions.
There is no quick fix on the horizon. The US is going to be enmeshed in Pakistan's affairs - and in war in neighboring Afghanistan - for years to come, at great expense in both treasure (of which the US has much less than it did before Mr. Bush launched his Iraq adventure), human lives (American, Pakistani, and Afghan), and human misery. We here in the US have long been pre-occupied with "the troops" - and with "victory." But over the long haul, our futures may hinge much more on what happens to those millions of Afghans and Pakistanis.
- ► 2013 (34)
- ► 2012 (165)
- ► 2011 (339)
- ► 2010 (305)
- NY Times report card on Iraq as US forces leave ci...
- Will Iraq now unravel?
- Iraqi whose lies made the case for war looks on fr...
- As US troops pull out, some ominous rumblings
- Gaza and Palestinians' desperation - beneath the r...
- Is the job done in Iraq?
- Obama and the Foreign Policy Establishment
- A guide to Israeli settlements
- Obama may hold some detainees indefinitely
- The "Economist"asks: Is Iraq Getting Worse?
- Maliki Casts U.S. Withdrawal as Victory for Iraq
- Americans' Contributions to the West Bank settlem...
- Iran's Turmoil Affects Shiites across the Middle E...
- Iran's Regime and US Energy Needs
- US discounts Iraq withdrawal risk even as violence...
- As the US Pulls Out, Iraq and Pakistan Approach Bo...
- Neda, Obama, Iran -- and Israel
- Important message from a sympathetic friend
- The martyrdom of "Neda"
- Roger Cohen from the Streets of Tehran
- Suicide bomber kills 25 or more near Kirkuk - whi...
- Mir-Hossein Mousavi's long night
- Resurgent neocons
- Iran set for day of mourning after protest deaths
- Obama, Siding With the Iranian Regime?
- Live-Tweeting the Revolution
- Is the US economy about to implode?
- Where Anti-Semitism is mainstream?
- Dennis Ross moving to the White House
- Racism among US military in Iraq
- Landslide or Fraud? The Debate Online Over Iran’s ...
- Netanyahu accepts limited Palestinian state.
- Iran's Political Coup - and What Happens Now?
- Report: Defeated Ahmadinejad rival arrested in Ira...
- Are Americans an especially warlike breed?
- Ahmadinejad Declared Victor in Iran
- Red Alert: Iran's Election Results (Open Access) |...
- Krauthammer and Barack Obama's Messianism
- Can Obama save Israel from itself?
- More War-mongering from Mr. Bolton
- Lebanon's elections over . . . and Iran's approach...
- Lebanon's elections . . . and the Obama Reaction
- Anthony Shadid, Justice, and the West Bank Settlem...
- Obama Calls for New Beginning - and an End to Sett...
- Iraq's Landmines, Old and New
- JR's latest op-ed at "War in Context"
- Pashtun Refugees and America's Future
- A Way Forward from General Motors' Demise
- The Upcoming Elections in Lebanon - and the Wider ...
- U.S. Weighs Tactics on Israeli Settlement - NYTime...
- ▼ June (50)