What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Uruzgan going Wild(ers)?

You may be aware of this thing coming up. You definitely should be. If it is coming up indeed. (I have my doubts over here...) Right-wing Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders is about to publish his film in which he is going to criticise Islam, this month. I wonder if there are test screenings with control groups going on right now, with scientists taking notes like "aha, if we cut out the Mohammed caricatures 20% less Muslim viewers end up rioting by the end." The film's coming certainly doesn't promise much stability in some key corners of the world, including in Afghanistan.
I'll quote the Coalition Joint Task Force's statement over the issue first of all. The Uruzgan Weblog has the original text, not available at CJTF any more:

"Islam is not the first religion in history to have its tenets twisted and abused in support of one man’s or one group’s desire for power. There are a lot of questions to answer while convincing a teenager to strap on an explosives laden vest and blow him (or her) self up in a crowded market or busy street. If there are “no atheists in foxholes” there are certainly none in suicide vests. Strapping on a suicide vest doesn’t guarantee the truth of the religious indoctrination the bomber has received.

Condemning the religion that has been twisted and misused to convince the suicide bomber to put on the vest does not make the world safer from terrorism. It provides a tool the terrorists will use to place more innocent teenagers inside suicide vests and send them out into the world, seeking targets.

Bill Roggio at the Weekly Standard and some others then criticised that CJTF got involved in this way in the domestic politics of another country. The wording of the CJTF piece was indeed offensive potentially, with its title ("stirring the hate") attributing responsibility for whatever may come personally to Wilders. And it was a little triumphant from the CJTF to note that at the time of the latest caricature riots in Copenhagen "our Muslims were good, yours were bad" (true, but this is an impolite way to say this and the inappropriate forum). Yet one shouldn't see attributing responsibility to this or that side in this affair as something that could be done objectively. It will be political inevitably. And one can understand the CJTF's motivations all too well. In Afghanistan Afghan matters count first.
And beside that there has already been at least one protest in Mazar-i-Sharif (!) against Denmark and the Netherlands in the previous days, now even some 200 members of the Wolesi and the Meshrano Jirga have taken their stance by shouting "Death to enemies of Islam" in Kabul. (Not to mention that even the Taliban promised special attention regarding Uruzgan for the future.)
I looked around for some European opinion on the issue, and consulted A Fistful of Euros first. That was a good move. Guy La Roche inserted a trailer of the movie from You Tube, "the most provocative movie you've never seen." With all my concerns about where this will all lead, I learned one can lol even in the context of this debate. Perhaps it's because the trailer planted hope in me that this is just a hoax. A provocative one, but still just a hoax meant to teach a lesson. Like this one was.
For a conservative voice I've even read Thomas Landen's takes on the film at the Brussels Journal. Read them here and here. Something that does make sense to me, for an excerpt:
"Hollanditis is a Dutch state of mind. Everything that is extreme exists in Holland; what is not extreme does not get noticed.
Theo van Gogh was a typical Dutchman. In voicing his opinions, he could not be crass enough. He called Christians “pimps,” said that “Jewish diabetics made the crematoriums smell of caramel” and that Muslims worship “a pig called Allah.” Van Gogh fell into the abyss. The Christians shrugged and the Jews sued, but the Muslims slit his throat.
To get noticed in Holland, one has to be more extravagant than anyone else. Hence Theo van Gogh’s rants. Hence Pim Fortuyn’s “evidence” that he could not be a racist because he preferred gay sex with Moroccan boys rather than with the indigenous sons of the polders.
Fortuyn and van Gogh were trapped within the fever of the Dutch political, religious, cultural and ideological debate. In a country which proclaims that there are no social and moral limits and that nothing can be enforced, anyone who wants to be heard is forced to go beyond the limits of what is sensible and wise. That is the tragedy of public debate in the Netherlands. And that is also the tragedy of
Geert Wilders."
But then I was sad to encounter phrases like "Westerners have come to realize how dangerous the enemy is that they have foolishly invited within their borders." Isn't there a middle ground between flunging doors wide open to everyone for eternity and between calling everyone who has taken the opportunity the enemy? And come on, saying that "There is no place anymore that Europeans can call their own..." That is just crazy. It obviously depends on what way you want to call a place your own.
Depending on your interpretation you might have to reconfigure your polity, and alter your economic welfare expectations a little, not just the immigration regime.
Wilders' film's title by the way is Fitna. How apt.
"Several hundred people torched an effigy of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the eastern town of Sharan, Paktika province, against "insults" to Islam, police said.
"They were asking the Danish government to punish those who have drawn up and published the insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammad," protester Abdullah Jan told AFP by telephone.
Seventeen members of the parliament in Nangahar province led dozens of people through the eastern city of Jalalabad for a demonstration in which they burned Dutch and Danish flags, an organiser said.
The protesters also called on the UN and Afghan government to isolate the European nations, Nangahar provincial council secretary Khan Mohammad said.
Another 400 to 500 people -- most of them youngsters -- marched in the town of Pul-i-Alam, 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Kabul, said the deputy provincial police chief of Logar province, Abdul Majeed Latifi.
"They asked the government to put pressure through diplomatic channels on the Dutch and Danish governments to stop the printing of cartoons and punish the perpetrators," he said.
Wednesday's rallies came a day after parliament demanded Kabul summon the ambassadors of the two countries -- both key allies in the fight against the Taliban -- to issue a formal protest."

No comments: