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Tags honor killing , islam , pakistan , traditional societies

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Old 13th November 2012, 04:11 PM   #321
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
There are two things here that, while linked, are still separate. One is the body of atrocities carried out by the Taliban. This is something we should combat, even after we leave Afghanistan. For example, an international force of volunteers who have a zeal to combat slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution could and should remain active.
There's an international force of volunteers there now*. Unfortunately they support the Taliban.


*Or was. I can't say how many of them are left.
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Old 13th November 2012, 04:24 PM   #322
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
It's not a strawman, rather your lack of understanding how the brain experiences moral feelings is the problem.

What do you think morals are? It's the emotional experience of certain rights and wrongs. Normal people know it is not right to murder. It's not fear of punishment that creates that emotion. Animals have a demonstrated sense of fairness that can lead them to act against their own best interest. This has been demonstrated in non-human primates. Very young children have no problem breaking a rule like, no eating in the classroom, if told the rule had changed but the same age children do no readily hit an animal when told the rule of no hitting no longer applies. That experiment was done.

How about you explain what you think moral thought is. Do you think we behave a certain way because we learned right and wrong on a blank slate? Think we behave morally because we fear punishment?



Seriously? That's your argument? Are you also under the misconception atheists would just go round on murderous rampages if there wasn't a law against murder?

Morals don't come from religion. A few behavior rules might, like the arbitrary taboo against pork or the claim that homosexual acts are sins. But people fit their religion to their moral beliefs, not the other way around.
We've been around this many times, and it remains obvious that human beings have both a disinclination to murder, and a tendency to murder, depending on circumstances. There's nothing unnatural about killing other human beings. It's central to human history.

If you have two groups of people competing for a resource when there's only enough for one of them, violence is a natural response. That doesn't imply it's a moral response.
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Old 13th November 2012, 04:46 PM   #323
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Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir View Post
And nobody seems to be able to justify why ‘The West’ has the right to police the world, other than “Because we can”, “Because we have the biggest stick”, “We have the 'best' morals”.
The West has the right to police the world in exactly the same way that people in other countries have the right to enjoy their culture uninterrupted. How can cultures have rights if people don't?
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Old 13th November 2012, 04:58 PM   #324
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
There's an international force of volunteers there now*. Unfortunately they support the Taliban.


*Or was. I can't say how many of them are left.
Of course, this is not what I mean. If you have something constructive to offer, I'll gladly listen to it.
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Old 13th November 2012, 06:27 PM   #325
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
We've been around this many times, and it remains obvious that human beings have both a disinclination to murder, and a tendency to murder, depending on circumstances. There's nothing unnatural about killing other human beings. It's central to human history.

If you have two groups of people competing for a resource when there's only enough for one of them, violence is a natural response. That doesn't imply it's a moral response.
You're wrong. It's one thing to be able to kill under certain circumstances and to feel like killing anytime for the most minor infraction. That is a rare and abnormal person who can do that.

I've traveled extensively in third world countries, and time and time again, after being warned how dangerous a place was, I found normal people going about normal lives, not killing and maiming each other willy nilly. Now why is that?

Yes, things can deteriorate, people can be abnormal, circumstances can be abnormal, but the most common state of human affairs is civility toward each other.
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Old 13th November 2012, 07:37 PM   #326
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
You're wrong. It's one thing to be able to kill under certain circumstances and to feel like killing anytime for the most minor infraction. That is a rare and abnormal person who can do that.

I've traveled extensively in third world countries, and time and time again, after being warned how dangerous a place was, I found normal people going about normal lives, not killing and maiming each other willy nilly. Now why is that?

Yes, things can deteriorate, people can be abnormal, circumstances can be abnormal, but the most common state of human affairs is civility toward each other.
This might be a good time to mention that I recently obtained several studies which examine the lives of child soldiers in Africa. I have not read them yet, but I'm thinking they might bring some insight into this concept of morality and killing other humans.
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Old 13th November 2012, 08:42 PM   #327
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Of course, this is not what I mean.
If you mean that a group of people who want to improve the lives of people in Afghanistan, they qualify.

Quote:
If you have something constructive to offer, I'll gladly listen to it.
How about "actions often have unintended consequences"?
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Old 13th November 2012, 08:43 PM   #328
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
You're wrong. It's one thing to be able to kill under certain circumstances and to feel like killing anytime for the most minor infraction. That is a rare and abnormal person who can do that.

I've traveled extensively in third world countries, and time and time again, after being warned how dangerous a place was, I found normal people going about normal lives, not killing and maiming each other willy nilly. Now why is that?

Yes, things can deteriorate, people can be abnormal, circumstances can be abnormal, but the most common state of human affairs is civility toward each other.
Yes, people don't kill each other willy-nilly. They have reasons for it. For example, the destruction of the honour system which forms the basis of their society.

It's very easy for two people to be civil to each other when they aren't competing for something.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:19 AM   #329
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Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
The answer is freedom of choice. North Koreans lack choice, as do Muslim women though there is variation from country to country.
It's an answer, certainly - just not the answer to the question I asked you.

Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
If the women who live in an honour killing culture had a genuinely free choice and chose to keep a tradition that involves them being blamed for being raped and then they are killed, so be it. I suspect though they would be likely to chose not to have such a tradition continue.
You'd think so wouldn't you? Did you notice one of the examples given in this thread was of a WOMAN carrying out a horrific Honour Killing?
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:24 AM   #330
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
You're missing the point. Nothing succeeds like success. Only successful cultural constructs would result in the data that would lead you to conclude that one culture is better than another. It's not that North Korea would succeed, it's that North Korea can't succeed. For a cultural construct to be successful the data supporting the social science has to be there.
Do you understand the term 'hypothetical'?

Anyway... So how are we judging 'successful'? How would define the criteria for judging? What if an 8 year-old boy living in poverty who did not attend school, in some third world country claimed to be extremely happy, but an 8 year-old boy living in America with a middle-class family claimed to be unhappy?
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:48 AM   #331
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir
No, that would be silly. Please stop hitting the strawman you've just made and point out where I was talking about 'emotions'. What I was discussing with you - the claim which you have failed to provide one shred of evidence for - is that we are born moral; that morals are already 'baked-in' to our brains at birth.

While you're at it you may wish to provide evidence for your claim that soldiers are able to overcome the inhibition to kill by thinking of the enemy as 'other than human'.
It's not a strawman, rather your lack of understanding how the brain experiences moral feelings is the problem.

What do you think morals are? It's the emotional experience of certain rights and wrongs.
No. Morals are the differentiation between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – two subjective terms. Some Islamic Cultures believe Honour Killing is morally ‘right’ – most Western Cultures believe it is morally ‘wrong’. Were those people in Islamic cultures born with the belief that Honour Killing is ‘right’?

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir
Yes. Why would Christians waste one of Ten Commandments on "Thou shalt not kill" if it was already built in?
Seriously? That's your argument? Are you also under the misconception atheists would just go round on murderous rampages if there wasn't a law against murder?
I was actually being semi-facetious but – sod it – let’s say it IS my argument; if – as you contend without a single shred of evidence or citation to back it up – an inhibition against killing other humans is baked-in – we’re born with it – then why have we had commandments and laws against it for thousands of years? Why does it have to be constantly drummed into us that murder is wrong?

Are you ever going to provide these citations you mentioned? Are you ever going to answer the questions I keep asking you?
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:25 AM   #332
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
I suspect that you have a bet with yourself as to how long you can keep this thread going. FWIW, I started doubting that you are debating sincerely shortly after the thread began,
Oh dear, I'm so embarrassed! And there was me thinking that I was simply doing what people do on internet forums, and replying to those people who respond to my posts! I actually thought 'debate' meant, answer questions that people pose me, respond to their points with an opposing viewpoint, or even agree with them! How wrong could I be?!

Attempt at poisoning the well noted.

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
but I also now believe that this thread has gone past the point where it can provide useful data or points of view to anyone who is lurking and sincerely looking for that kind of information.
Oh well, if that's what YOU believe, we'd better pack it up then! You heard the woman - everybody out!

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
But before I end my participation in this thread,
I bet you don't. I reckon you've got a bet with yourself to see how long you can keep me posting...

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
for those possible lurkers, I also suggest reading this Wiki article on the TalibanWP.

Some cut and pastes:



The Taliban are Pashtun and per the wiki Pashtun people WP article:
Taliban are bad men and powerful. Got it. Totally agree - never said otherwise.

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
And I have to respond to what you said here:


So, since the Pashtun decide that non-Pashtun Afghani women are fair game for the sex trade market, according to your viewpoint, non-Afghanis or perhaps even non-Pashtuns should not offer any assistance because its not their culture? That is really sickening...
I don't remember suggesting that people of the same, or neighbouring cultures shouldn't take a stand when someone else is kidnapping their women...

I wonder why they aren't standing up to those powerful, well-supported, well-armed, tyrannical religious thugs?

Oh and on the subject of assisting, just so you're aware - those two years I spent in Afghanistan wasn't ALL sightseeing and free lunches.

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
and I'm am now finished with this thread.
I bet you're not.
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:27 AM   #333
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
My synopsis:

SMVC: I'm against honor killings but I don't think we should impose our values on others by force;

Opposing Choir: how can you defend honor killings, how barbaric, have you no sense of decency

SMVC: Once again, I'm against honor killings but I don't think we should impose our values on others by force

OC: Clearly we have superior values and they suit us very well, how can you defend honor killings (gruesome details) have you no sense of decency.


And on and on and on and on.


Certainly seems to be the case. Glad it's not just me and a few others who see that.
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:36 AM   #334
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
How long do you think honor killings would exist if they weren't implemented by force? Who volunteers to get murdered or even have acid thrown in their face or have parts of their bodies amputated? It makes a big difference whether the victims have any choice in the matter.
Ye-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-s... Nobody is disputing Honour Killings are carried out by force. The very nature of murder suggests that the victim isn't usually complicit. What's your point?

Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
And if you look into the various links about the Taliban in Afghanistan, it's clear that they were a fringe group put into power and financed by outsiders who could care less about Afghanis and a great deal about their own finances and political desires.
Yes? What's your point?
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:41 AM   #335
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Except we said over and over, no one was talking 'force'.
And I said 'force' does not necessarily = physical violence, or 'at gunpoint'.

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Then he went on saying that only people within the country have the right to say anything.
I did? I'm pretty sure I said 'we' should certainly assist a desire for change being driven from within a foreign culture who request that assistance.

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
And we all said one could make a value judgement and exert pressure without being part of the culture.

'Exert Pressure'... sounds a bit like 'force'...

ETA: In fact, let's have a look:


Quote:
Coercion is the practice of forcing another party to act in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats or intimidation or some other form of pressure or force.

"pressure or force", eh? Sound interchangeable to me...

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
So you kind of missed some details.
And yet AGAIN you missed posting the links you promised, and the ones I have been asking for.
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:47 AM   #336
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
What Skeptic Ginger said, and also I couldn't help but point out the absurdity of being concerned about using force (which like SG said no one had suggested) when the only ones using force are the people doing the honor killings.
I wonder if the irony of you writing what I hilighted while quoting SG using the phrase 'exert pressure' is lost on you?

Still here, by the way? It's almost like you've got a bet on with yourself about how long you can keep this thread going...
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Old 14th November 2012, 08:59 AM   #337
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Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir View Post
It's an answer, certainly - just not the answer to the question I asked you.



You'd think so wouldn't you? Did you notice one of the examples given in this thread was of a WOMAN carrying out a horrific Honour Killing?
It is my answer to your question. We should not impose our ways on others as I would expect them not impose theirs on us. We can circumvent that issue by pointing out to others that there is another way, don't brutally kill daughters who look at boys or are raped by their brother and they should have the free choice to do it differently.

Would she have killed if she knew she had a choice not to and she could make that choice free from sanctions herself?
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:30 AM   #338
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
That's pretty much the case. Sweet Water And Bitter is an excellent book about it. The strange thing is that Britain, in spite of many shameful activities in its past (and indeed future) seemed to be driven by a genuine moral imperative, in spite of being one of the leading slaving nations.
Thanks for the referral, I've added it to my "books to read" list. As you say, it is strange, and I'd like to read more about it.

If you or anyone else also happen to know of a book that explains why countries who weren't really on board with the idea signed treaties with Britain supporting the end of slave trade on the Atlantic, I'd like to read about that too. No doubt it was due to a combination of carrot and stick tactics, but I'd really like to know more about how Britain managed to get those treaties.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:48 AM   #339
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
There are two things here that, while linked, are still separate. One is the body of atrocities carried out by the Taliban. This is something we should combat, even after we leave Afghanistan. For example, an international force of volunteers who have a zeal to combat slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution could and should remain active.

Unfortunately, the matter of honor killings will be quite a bit harder to deal with. In most of the countries where these occur the entire culture supports such behavior. Otherwise, these atrocities would fade away. We cannot, in all practicality, enforce a ban on honor killings from without. Constant pressure on these cultures to change there ways would be one way to force an eventual end to these abominable practices.

An idea occurs to me that might save lives. Western countries could set up places in which to receive women, girls and others who could be exiled and considered dead to their families. We could then educate, westernize and transport these exiles to more enlightened societies. They would effectively cease to exist in their old communities, satisfying the honor code until we can implement enough change to end it.
I don't think the patriarchs of the tribal culture could be persuaded to change. I agree that directly offering the women alternative choices could effect change. I think it would still be difficult to implement -- it's not just about honor killing. The Taliban has also enforced a system of what is effectively house arrest and I'm sure it would be difficult to help the women, esp. the ones that live in smaller communities where strangers would be very noticeable.

This option would change the status of women from property to people with options, and I would expect that Taliban to do everything they could to stop it.

ETA: In other countries, assuming that the women are not living under house arrest and have more freedom, it would be easier to help them this way.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:49 AM   #340
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
There's an international force of volunteers there now*. Unfortunately they support the Taliban.


*Or was. I can't say how many of them are left.
Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
Of course, this is not what I mean. If you have something constructive to offer, I'll gladly listen to it.
I think it would be interesting to know why these volunteers decided to support the Taliban. You can't solve a problem until you understand it.


ETA: Anybody know if Antique Hunter is still around? I think he worked for a NGO in Afghanistan, it would be interesting to read his take on things.
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Old 14th November 2012, 09:54 AM   #341
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
Yes, people don't kill each other willy-nilly. They have reasons for it. For example, the destruction of the honour system which forms the basis of their society.

It's very easy for two people to be civil to each other when they aren't competing for something.
The vast majority of humans on the planet could not murder someone without serious moral implications. You seem to be talking past me with this, "yes but under X circumstances people can kill." Yes, but that isn't the point. The point is, most people would need to cross a very high threshold in order to kill. Be that brainwashing of child soldiers or of a culture, in both cases it is not a natural human state.
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Old 14th November 2012, 11:02 AM   #342
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
That doesn't sound like a very efficient way to build up a family if you have to start over the moment your kid looks at someone.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:10 PM   #343
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Originally Posted by westprog View Post
If you mean that a group of people who want to improve the lives of people in Afghanistan, they qualify.



How about "actions often have unintended consequences"?
Granted. However, this doesn't excuse us from at least trying.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:28 PM   #344
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
I think it would be interesting to know why these volunteers decided to support the Taliban. You can't solve a problem until you understand it.


ETA: Anybody know if Antique Hunter is still around? I think he worked for a NGO in Afghanistan, it would be interesting to read his take on things.
Hello all,

Yes, I lived & worked for nearly 8 years in Afghanistan. Not with an NGO but as a consultant/advisor embedded in the Afghan government, supporting a large ministry. That said, naturally I met, worked alongside & socialized with lots of NGO types.

On this specific point - I would be curious to know specifically who the large body of volunteers who 'support the Taliban' are. From two perspectives:

1) How do we define 'The Taliban'? These people don't carry around ID cards. After so many years there, I still struggle with this. Is 'The Taliban' someone connected to Al Qaeda? Is 'The Taliban' a Sunni muslim fundamentalist? Is 'The Taliban' someone who is aligned with a certain warlord/faction? Is someone who supports Ismail Khan 'The Taliban'? What about someone who supports Dostum?

2) These alleged volunteers - did they come to the region to do Aid work for a typical NGO (Save the Children, World Vision, etc...) and then somehow decide 'the Taliban' (such as they defined it) had the right idea and switch sides? Have they come to the region specifically to aid and abet 'the Taliban' agenda? I need to know a little more about what kinds of people we are talking about, and their motives. There are definitely some aid workers with some strange ideas, but I honestly can state I never met someone who I thought was working to DIRECTLY SUPPORT a terrorist movement.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:37 PM   #345
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Separate from, but related to, the problem of honor killing in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East, is that of honor killing exported into more enlightened nations, such as the United States. It would appear that many of those leaving the near east think they have the right to impose their views in our country. They need to be firmly disabused of this notion as a condition of their being allowed to enter our country and enjoy its benefits. Any failure on their part to do so, such as physical abuse, should be grounds for two things: first, the removal of their children from their control. Second,their permanent removal from the United States - minus their children.
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Old 14th November 2012, 12:39 PM   #346
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
If the Taliban are considered saviours, I can't even begin to imagine what the warlords were like.
I am new to this thread & am just catching up.

I can comment directly on this - there is an incredible number of young people (a growing number by the time I left) who would welcome a return of 'The Taliban' to power. As described to me by a number of young Afghan men whom I had hired (and paid well) to be translators or technical members of my team, while 'some bad things' happened under the Taliban, at least they 'knew where we stood'. And the Taliban supported their religion. They see the West as a negative influence (all this said while enjoying their cellphone, internet porn, bluejeans & salary paid by the Western world).

In a nutshell, if you are a devout muslim, the fact that you may not be able to listen to music, have to grow a beard, and live in what we would consider a repressive society - this is not seen as a negative. Indeed, it is seen as a positive alternative to what has evolved in Afghanistan between 2002-2012.

These are young Afghan men, most of whom were raised in Pakistan by middle-class families during the bulk of the fighting, and have some level of schooling (albeit at a Pakistani institution). They are literate & multi-lingual.

It will be interesting to see if my Afghan colleagues have this same opinion when their $2500 a month dries up.
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Old 14th November 2012, 01:15 PM   #347
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On the topic of the OP:

I don't believe anyone would say that Honor Murders are 'OK'. Indeed, in Afghanistan, if you kill your daughter for reasons of honor, you will go to jail. 'Honor' is not a legal excuse.

So the question becomes - how do we stop honor murders? My perspective is that I'm not sure we can. We can't, afterall, stop 'murder' in its broader sense - and an honor murder is simply one excuse among many of why people kill other people. Sure - it is a particularly horrific and heinous excuse, but is it any worse than the murder in a crime of passion, or a psycho/sexual killer's murder? Its murder, full-stop.

Where the West should be intervening is on the legal side. What is appalling in all of this, is that judges (which are an inept, corrupt, aid-sinkhole in Afghanistan) often will not treat an honor killing with the same severity as another instance of murder. Likewise, many of these crimes go under-reported or mis-reported. It doesn't take much abstract thought to read between the lines when one hears a young woman was discovered electrocuted in the bathtub because the hair-dryer fell in. (This was a rather common occurence in Afghanistan - I think I read 3 publicized reports of this 'accidental' death during my time there.)

So rather than looking for ways to stop honor killing itself, IF the West is going to get involved at all, then I would suggest the cultural change is probably something we will never gain traction against - at least that sort of cultural change takes generations. We COULD fix the legal system as a tangible result.

However, I suspect that as Afghanistan loses its aid-draw, and the 'pullout' starts to take place (it will never be a complete withdrawal) honor killing, and many other examples of crimes against women will be the first area where the small inroads we have made, are all undone.

When we pull out the troops, we should pull out the media. Because the pictures will be very bleak indeed.
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Old 14th November 2012, 02:23 PM   #348
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Thanks for taking the time to comment AH. It's hard for me to respond to your posts though because I just don't have enough background knowledge to fully understand them.

I'll take a stab at asking a couple of questions anyway though.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
I am new to this thread & am just catching up.

I can comment directly on this - there is an incredible number of young people (a growing number by the time I left) who would welcome a return of 'The Taliban' to power. As described to me by a number of young Afghan men whom I had hired (and paid well) to be translators or technical members of my team, while 'some bad things' happened under the Taliban, at least they 'knew where we stood'. And the Taliban supported their religion. They see the West as a negative influence (all this said while enjoying their cellphone, internet porn, bluejeans & salary paid by the Western world).

In a nutshell, if you are a devout muslim, the fact that you may not be able to listen to music, have to grow a beard, and live in what we would consider a repressive society - this is not seen as a negative. Indeed, it is seen as a positive alternative to what has evolved in Afghanistan between 2002-2012.
OK -- dumb question. Is what happened between 2002 - 2012 worse than what most Afghanis experienced when their country was under Russian influence? Has weakening the Taliban strengthened leaders who are even worse than the Taliban as opposed to strengthening leaders who are less cruel and perhaps more inclined to running things in a more democratic manner?

Quote:
These are young Afghan men, most of whom were raised in Pakistan by middle-class families during the bulk of the fighting, and have some level of schooling (albeit at a Pakistani institution). They are literate & multi-lingual.

It will be interesting to see if my Afghan colleagues have this same opinion when their $2500 a month dries up.
When do you expect that will happen for most of them?



Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
On the topic of the OP:

I don't believe anyone would say that Honor Murders are 'OK'. Indeed, in Afghanistan, if you kill your daughter for reasons of honor, you will go to jail. 'Honor' is not a legal excuse.

So the question becomes - how do we stop honor murders? My perspective is that I'm not sure we can. We can't, afterall, stop 'murder' in its broader sense - and an honor murder is simply one excuse among many of why people kill other people. Sure - it is a particularly horrific and heinous excuse, but is it any worse than the murder in a crime of passion, or a psycho/sexual killer's murder? Its murder, full-stop.

Where the West should be intervening is on the legal side. What is appalling in all of this, is that judges (which are an inept, corrupt, aid-sinkhole in Afghanistan) often will not treat an honor killing with the same severity as another instance of murder. Likewise, many of these crimes go under-reported or mis-reported. It doesn't take much abstract thought to read between the lines when one hears a young woman was discovered electrocuted in the bathtub because the hair-dryer fell in. (This was a rather common occurence in Afghanistan - I think I read 3 publicized reports of this 'accidental' death during my time there.)
So, how did Afghanistan end up with laws on the books that say that honor killings are illegal despite the fact that it appear to be OK with the their patriarchal/tribal power structure? Is this a legacy from the Russians?

Quote:
So rather than looking for ways to stop honor killing itself, IF the West is going to get involved at all, then I would suggest the cultural change is probably something we will never gain traction against - at least that sort of cultural change takes generations. We COULD fix the legal system as a tangible result.

However, I suspect that as Afghanistan loses its aid-draw, and the 'pullout' starts to take place (it will never be a complete withdrawal)
Why not? Because of proposed oil pipeline projects?

As for fixing the legal system ... that is probably equivalent to nation building and I wonder if that would work in the Middle East. It did work for Japan after WWII, but I believe that Japan was hated and feared by most other Asian countries which is probably one of the reasons that the Americans were able to do this. I don't think the same dynamics are in place in the Middle East. Also, I think the US was willing to do a lot of expensive nation building after WWII to help prevent a future WWIII. I'm doubtful that the same degree of nation building would have support from American citizens now or from any other democratic/republican country's citizens. So who would do it? I also cheerfully admit that I'm doing a lot of speculating in ignorance in this post.

Quote:
honor killing, and many other examples of crimes against women will be the first area where the small inroads we have made, are all undone.
Is there anyway to help the women directly?

An anecdote for what its worth. My family background is Orthodox Jewish. One of my great-grandfathers was basically a tyrant and he insisted that all of his sons be married by 16 years of age and his daughters by 12. (He had a dozen children.) He succeeded in forcing his oldest son and daughter into marriage. The rest of his children ran away. Unfortunately for the tyrant but fortunately for his other children the big city was not that far away and they were able to get jobs, the daughters as well as the sons. Their options broke his tyranny. Incidentally, none of the 10 run-aways stayed orthodox, probably not a coincidence.

I think if the Afghani women were able to have true options that this problem could be done away with within two, perhaps even one generation. To take my mother's aunts and uncles as an example though, they were never under house arrest and while they were threatened with forced marriages, they were never threatened with death or even acid attacks or facial amputations.

I'm just wondering if there is a way to offer Afghani women true help in that type of extremely hostile and dangerous environment.

Quote:
When we pull out the troops, we should pull out the media. Because the pictures will be very bleak indeed.
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Old 14th November 2012, 04:52 PM   #349
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
Thanks for taking the time to comment AH. It's hard for me to respond to your posts though because I just don't have enough background knowledge to fully understand them.

I'll take a stab at asking a couple of questions anyway though.



OK -- dumb question. Is what happened between 2002 - 2012 worse than what most Afghanis experienced when their country was under Russian influence? Has weakening the Taliban strengthened leaders who are even worse than the Taliban as opposed to strengthening leaders who are less cruel and perhaps more inclined to running things in a more democratic manner?
What I'm driving at is the hypocracy of things. Materially, these Afghan's lives have improved - they embrace aspects of 'Westernization' (particularly the internet porn part.) They embrace the ability to get a salary beyond the wildest dreams of most Afghans - schoolteachers received $165 USD a month when I left. But while they're gazing at porn & enjoying comforts that a reasonable salary allows, they will still say 'the lives of Afghans haven't improved since the West got involved'. They will still say 'I liked it when the Taliban was in control because it was safe, and they respected Islam.'

The reality is that outside of Kabul & major centers (Jbad, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar etc...), the West hasn't been able to improve the lives of the average Afghan very much, if at all. Afghans don't connect (semi)democratic elections with any sort of a 'win'. They want to see running water, sewage, schools, hospitals, roads, a live outside of subsistence agriculture. Or perhaps for many of these remote Afghans, really they just want to carry on with their simple existences and be left alone.

Quote:
When do you expect that will happen for most of them?
Hard to say. The peak of aid spending in Afghanistan has definitely been reached. Unlike other post-conflict places I've been (East Timor for example), I think there is some caution about pulling the pin too soon. Because if this fragile middle-class where there is at least SOME progress collapses, they will likely become extremely disenfranchised.

My personal opinion is that any US politician who tells you they are 'pulling out' of Afghanistan is lying. The infrastructure built there is clearly built with a long-term view. Kandahar and what has been put in place there is staying - and the US/NATO will patrol Central Asia from that location for years to come - no question.

Quote:
So, how did Afghanistan end up with laws on the books that say that honor killings are illegal despite the fact that it appear to be OK with the their patriarchal/tribal power structure? Is this a legacy from the Russians?
I am not an Afghan legal expert - however I will say that 'murder' is definitely against the law, and I am unaware of any legal statute on the books that permits the notion of an 'honor' killing. My understanding of the situation is that in cases of an honor killing, a local judge would elect to consider the 'honor killing' aspect of the incident and perhaps judge accordingly - reducing the sentence, or perhaps letting the act go altogether. More commonly is the whole thing is covered up. These kinds of killings in Afghanistan tend to happen in small villages with very nascent rule of law to begin with. I'm not saying they never happen in somewhat more developed places like Kabul - they certainly do. But they are much more likely to take place in less sophisticated, rural areas with nominal policing.

I will send an Email to a friend of mine who spent several years there on the legal side of things, for her opinion. Maybe she will reply.



Quote:
As for fixing the legal system ... that is probably equivalent to nation building and I wonder if that would work in the Middle East. It did work for Japan after WWII, but I believe that Japan was hated and feared by most other Asian countries which is probably one of the reasons that the Americans were able to do this. I don't think the same dynamics are in place in the Middle East. Also, I think the US was willing to do a lot of expensive nation building after WWII to help prevent a future WWIII. I'm doubtful that the same degree of nation building would have support from American citizens now or from any other democratic/republican country's citizens. So who would do it? I also cheerfully admit that I'm doing a lot of speculating in ignorance in this post.
If I were king of the world, I would tie it directly to aid. Policy for pay, if you will. Either the Afghan government accepts far-reaching and widespread legal reforms (with all the destablizing/sensitive issues to the notion of central government this entails) or the aid tap is turned off. Or a debt is not forgiven. Without going into details of my job, trading difficult and sensitive policy actions in return for debt forgiveness/aid packages was how we got traction early in the piece in 2002/3/4. The less-direct negotiations just fail to work in the Afghan environment - because basically they have developed a real knack in the past 100 years or so, how to milk anything they possibly can out of foreign governments...

Quote:
Is there anyway to help the women directly?
As a side activity, me and my partner were very involved with a local Women's NGO, that was seeking to empower women through small business development. Basically we assisted some 110 women to gain some measure of economic independence by helping them market their handicrafts to Westerners. We were hugely successful, and in our spare time over 2 years, these women raised over $200k USD which went directly to their pockets, through the sales of embroideries, dolls, simple jewellery etc...

And still, almost weekly, some woman would come to the center having been beaten for some perceived impropriety, or some woman would have her money stolen by her worthless husband. In one case, one of our women was attacked with a caustic substance and we had to scramble to get her aid to save her eyes.

And, even though I am proud of what we achieved, this was simply a band-aid. These women, especially without the West there to perform some form of babysitting are doomed when we pull out.

Quote:
An anecdote for what its worth. My family background is Orthodox Jewish. One of my great-grandfathers was basically a tyrant and he insisted that all of his sons be married by 16 years of age and his daughters by 12. (He had a dozen children.) He succeeded in forcing his oldest son and daughter into marriage. The rest of his children ran away. Unfortunately for the tyrant but fortunately for his other children the big city was not that far away and they were able to get jobs, the daughters as well as the sons. Their options broke his tyranny. Incidentally, none of the 10 run-aways stayed orthodox, probably not a coincidence.

I think if the Afghani women were able to have true options that this problem could be done away with within two, perhaps even one generation. To take my mother's aunts and uncles as an example though, they were never under house arrest and while they were threatened with forced marriages, they were never threatened with death or even acid attacks or facial amputations.

I'm just wondering if there is a way to offer Afghani women true help in that type of extremely hostile and dangerous environment.

I am perhaps cynical after my time in country. So my opinion is interesting in that is a real-life anecdote, but I also am admittedly somewhat jaded. My answer is no. The country is going to go back to being hell in a handcart. When we pull out, we should turn our back and shut our eyes, and wait until the screaming stops.

And whoever next goes in with a military intervention, should turn it into a parking lot.

The only way to break this cycle is actually to physically break it, and then try to do something with the pieces that are left.
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Old 14th November 2012, 07:25 PM   #350
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Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir View Post
Do you understand the term 'hypothetical'?

Anyway... So how are we judging 'successful'? How would define the criteria for judging? What if an 8 year-old boy living in poverty who did not attend school, in some third world country claimed to be extremely happy, but an 8 year-old boy living in America with a middle-class family claimed to be unhappy?
Obviously I do. The point you are missing is that using objective criteria for human conditions your hypothetical model isn't relevant. That's the whole point of objective data. North Korea can't be successful.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:27 AM   #351
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
Obviously I do. The point you are missing is that using objective criteria for human conditions your hypothetical model isn't relevant. That's the whole point of objective data. North Korea can't be successful.
Wow. I blame myself you know; I should just be blunt and say what I mean instead of trying to lead you gently to the water.

How about this; you have established all your relevant criteria, gathered all your 'objective' data (in order to prove your subjective concept), analysed the data, then put together your model of the 'ideal culture' which - you'll discover with a (feigned) embarrassed chuckle of surprise - is basically a Western Culture (probably American as well). You're now ready. What you are suggesting is that 'you' actually go out into the real world - to countries like Pakistan or Afghanistan - and actually issue an ultimatum that amounts to:

"We did some research and apparently our cultural values are the best in the world, so we'd like you to change your culture in line with our values, and stop doing the following things...

What gives us the right, you say? The research we conducted that shows we are the BEST CULTURE IN THE WORLD! We don't care if you don't like it; our people do - our schools are better than yours, most of our citizens have jobs and houses - now roll over!"

You can dress it up with all the armchair critical thinking and 'objective models' you like, but this is essentially what you are proposing in a real world scenario, in countries full of religious fundamentals who despise the West and everything it stands for, and you really, really think that "We're awesome and have got the evidence to prove it" is going to cut it with these people?
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Old 15th November 2012, 02:36 AM   #352
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Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
I can comment directly on this - there is an incredible number of young people (a growing number by the time I left) who would welcome a return of 'The Taliban' to power. As described to me by a number of young Afghan men whom I had hired (and paid well) to be translators or technical members of my team, while 'some bad things' happened under the Taliban, at least they 'knew where we stood'. And the Taliban supported their religion. They see the West as a negative influence (all this said while enjoying their cellphone, internet porn, bluejeans & salary paid by the Western world).

In a nutshell, if you are a devout muslim, the fact that you may not be able to listen to music, have to grow a beard, and live in what we would consider a repressive society - this is not seen as a negative. Indeed, it is seen as a positive alternative to what has evolved in Afghanistan between 2002-2012.

These are young Afghan men, most of whom were raised in Pakistan by middle-class families during the bulk of the fighting, and have some level of schooling (albeit at a Pakistani institution). They are literate & multi-lingual.

It will be interesting to see if my Afghan colleagues have this same opinion when their $2500 a month dries up.
I completely agree, and said as much earlier in the thread. Unfortunately, many people cannot see past 'Taliban evil' and understand the complexities of the situation in Afghanistan, and places like it, and confuse comments about the Taliban being welcomed back, as support or approval for the Taliban.

Having also spoke to many interpreters, and other educated Afghan people, I have seen examples of some of the things you say. A lot of these people are more than happy to embrace certain elements of Western culture, but the aspects they don't like, they REALLY don't like.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
On the topic of the OP:

I don't believe anyone would say that Honor Murders are 'OK'. Indeed, in Afghanistan, if you kill your daughter for reasons of honor, you will go to jail. 'Honor' is not a legal excuse.
Exactly.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
So the question becomes - how do we stop honor murders? My perspective is that I'm not sure we can. We can't, afterall, stop 'murder' in its broader sense - and an honor murder is simply one excuse among many of why people kill other people. Sure - it is a particularly horrific and heinous excuse, but is it any worse than the murder in a crime of passion, or a psycho/sexual killer's murder? Its murder, full-stop.

Where the West should be intervening is on the legal side.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. It will take more time and resources than we have to stamp out something which has been a huge part of a culture for 3000+ years - if we could stamp it out at all - the easiest way to do it is to make sure that it is taken extremely seriously in the courts.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
What is appalling in all of this, is that judges (which are an inept, corrupt, aid-sinkhole in Afghanistan) often will not treat an honor killing with the same severity as another instance of murder. Likewise, many of these crimes go under-reported or mis-reported. It doesn't take much abstract thought to read between the lines when one hears a young woman was discovered electrocuted in the bathtub because the hair-dryer fell in. (This was a rather common occurence in Afghanistan - I think I read 3 publicized reports of this 'accidental' death during my time there.)

So rather than looking for ways to stop honor killing itself, IF the West is going to get involved at all, then I would suggest the cultural change is probably something we will never gain traction against - at least that sort of cultural change takes generations. We COULD fix the legal system as a tangible result.
Again, many armchair activists simply do not understand the mindset of these people, and I have been reluctant to completely voice my opinions in this thread for many reasons, not least of which is that apparently drawing on first-hand experience to formulate an opinion is starting 'a pissing contest'; or not advocating forcing our values on other cultures is directly supporting honour killing.

We COULD try and 'fix' the Legal System, but I personally believe it wouldn't stay fixed much past 2014, if it ever got fixed at all, but from what you go on to say, you appear to know what's likely to happen just as well as I do...

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
However, I suspect that as Afghanistan loses its aid-draw, and the 'pullout' starts to take place (it will never be a complete withdrawal) honor killing, and many other examples of crimes against women will be the first area where the small inroads we have made, are all undone.

When we pull out the troops, we should pull out the media. Because the pictures will be very bleak indeed.
Yup - there it is!

No, the plan as it stands at the moment is not for a complete withdrawal. However, I would not be at ALL surprised to see a very quick 'emergency withdrawal' at some stage, or even a very quick 'emergency surge' of troops back in.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
What I'm driving at is the hypocracy of things. Materially, these Afghan's lives have improved - they embrace aspects of 'Westernization' (particularly the internet porn part.) They embrace the ability to get a salary beyond the wildest dreams of most Afghans - schoolteachers received $165 USD a month when I left. But while they're gazing at porn & enjoying comforts that a reasonable salary allows, they will still say 'the lives of Afghans haven't improved since the West got involved'. They will still say 'I liked it when the Taliban was in control because it was safe, and they respected Islam.'
Again, this is what many of our armchair activists here fail to understand. It's one thing to read about the plight of the Afghan people before the Taliban, during Taliban rule, and post-Taliban rule - it's another thing completely to see and speak to them first hand. They love anything that makes their lives a bit easier - shiny western gadgets and luxuries - but they do not embrace our culture; they do not wish Western values imposed on them. A lot of people simply cannot see past their own point of view and think that just because they're happy, that the Afghans (or another similar culture) would embrace their Western values with open arms.

What you said here sums it up perfectly for me, and this is what a lot of people simply cannot wrap their heads around:

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
In a nutshell, if you are a devout muslim, the fact that you may not be able to listen to music, have to grow a beard, and live in what we would consider a repressive society - this is not seen as a negative.
Actually, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with an Afghan interpreter about the Taliban and their rule, and I couldn't make him understand why I found one of his comments so funny. He basically said to me "At least the Taliban kept order - you should have seen this place before they took over!", and the first thing I thought of was Monty Python's 'Life of Brian', where the People's Front of Judea are discussing the Roman Occupation (the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene) where the guy says (something along the lines of) "Oh, yeah - remember what the city USED to be like before the Romans came, Reg!"

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
The reality is that outside of Kabul & major centers (Jbad, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar etc...), the West hasn't been able to improve the lives of the average Afghan very much, if at all. Afghans don't connect (semi)democratic elections with any sort of a 'win'. They want to see running water, sewage, schools, hospitals, roads, a live outside of subsistence agriculture. Or perhaps for many of these remote Afghans, really they just want to carry on with their simple existences and be left alone.
That's the provinces in a nutshell.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
My personal opinion is that any US politician who tells you they are 'pulling out' of Afghanistan is lying. The infrastructure built there is clearly built with a long-term view. Kandahar and what has been put in place there is staying - and the US/NATO will patrol Central Asia from that location for years to come - no question.
"Pulling out" is a generic term used mainly by the media I think, which gives the wrong impression. We generally use the term "drawing down", which gives a better idea of what the long-term strategy is. My personal feeling is that we don't want to be seen simply dropping Afghanistan like a pan of hot crap and bugging out, but that's EXACTLY what we want to do. The West effectively want to be able to say "Look - there's your government; there's your army and police; it's all yours, bye!", and then "draw down slowly" as quickly as they can without looking like they're bugging out.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
And, even though I am proud of what we achieved, this was simply a band-aid. These women, especially without the West there to perform some form of babysitting are doomed when we pull out.
As doomed as they've always been.

Originally Posted by Antiquehunter View Post
I am perhaps cynical after my time in country. So my opinion is interesting in that is a real-life anecdote, but I also am admittedly somewhat jaded. My answer is no. The country is going to go back to being hell in a handcart. When we pull out, we should turn our back and shut our eyes, and wait until the screaming stops.

And whoever next goes in with a military intervention, should turn it into a parking lot.

The only way to break this cycle is actually to physically break it, and then try to do something with the pieces that are left.
I agree completely, and think you summed that up perfectly. I wouldn't say 'cynical' or 'jaded', but 'realistic', based on my limited experience.
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Old 15th November 2012, 03:20 AM   #353
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Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
We should not impose our ways on others as I would expect them not impose theirs on us.
And that's simply all I have been saying for the last 8 pages or so.
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Old 15th November 2012, 07:00 AM   #354
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
Thanks for the referral, I've added it to my "books to read" list. As you say, it is strange, and I'd like to read more about it.

If you or anyone else also happen to know of a book that explains why countries who weren't really on board with the idea signed treaties with Britain supporting the end of slave trade on the Atlantic, I'd like to read about that too. No doubt it was due to a combination of carrot and stick tactics, but I'd really like to know more about how Britain managed to get those treaties.
I would say that at least partly because countries consist of a range of special interests. There might be a general sentiment against the slave trade, but the people engaged in it would have a strong interest in keeping it going.

In the case of the USA, there was a majority feeling against slavery itself, but we know how that panned out. There were many people in the South who wished to make a living out of trading slaves. There were other people who disapproved, but who nevertheless did not want to see US ships halted by the British Navy.
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Old 15th November 2012, 07:35 AM   #355
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Originally Posted by Kaylee View Post
I think it would be interesting to know why these volunteers decided to support the Taliban. You can't solve a problem until you understand it.


ETA: Anybody know if Antique Hunter is still around? I think he worked for a NGO in Afghanistan, it would be interesting to read his take on things.
Overseas support for the Taliban probably goes back to the Russian invasion. The Russians were not a benevolent presence in Afghanistan, but they did have some benevolent ideas. Unfortunately the effect was to associate the likes of women's education with helicopter gunships - which led the mujahideen to oppose both.
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Old 15th November 2012, 08:40 AM   #356
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Originally Posted by SatansMaleVoiceChoir View Post
And that's simply all I have been saying for the last 8 pages or so.
And I knew that, but I don't think you knew that I already knew that.

I want the West to support and assist campaigns against honour killings. As for the rest of Afghan culture, its up to them.

I suggest a deal, free subscription to Red Hot TV if you stop the honour killings
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Old 15th November 2012, 08:44 AM   #357
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Originally Posted by TimCallahan View Post
"Our sister's impurity brought great dishonor to the family,"
What's bat-crazy about these idiotic, barbaric cultures is that at no point they consider the SON to be a source of dishonor.
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Old 15th November 2012, 08:52 AM   #358
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Men all over the world have been able to get away with more than women.
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Old 15th November 2012, 09:13 AM   #359
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Originally Posted by Craig4 View Post
If it did North Korea would not be the North Korea we all know and mock.
By our standards, maybe, but if you poll all of humanity, including the dead, I'm not sure you can claim this.
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Old 15th November 2012, 09:20 AM   #360
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Seriously? That's your argument?
We have laws against killing, don't we ? I wonder why that is... maybe it's because we actually do kill each other a lot when left able to do it, which is why there's been so much of it so far. Look at how many people scream "death" as punishment when they hear of certain forms of crime.

And seeing how animals kill each other routinely as well, even within their own groups, I don't think empathy is that much engrained.
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