28 March 2006

Welcome To Afghanistan

The people of Afghanistan have greeted American troops with cheering crowds and flowers.

The cheering crowds have been chanting: "Death to Christians!"

The flowers have been poppies.

The U.N.'s drug agency estimated earlier this year that the cultivation and trafficking of opium accounted for 60 percent of the economy, or over 2.8 billion dollars in value.

In another report published last year, the State Department warned that Afghanistan was "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state", accounting for nearly 90 percent of the world's opium production.

"[G]row[ing] poppies for opium production, [is] a trade that's soared since the Taliban were ousted."

Osama bin Laden, whom we invaded Afghanistan to capture is now believed to have left that countries for our "ally" neighborhing Pakistan. "While bin Laden's current whereabouts are unknown, the most popular assumption is that he is hiding in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, or, more specifically, near the small Pakistani market town of Chitral."

Afghanistan has elected a government, and adopted a constitution on January 4, 2004.

This constitution, by the way, makes Islam the official religion (at Article 2(1)). Article 2(2) provides that "Followers of other religions are free to exercise their faith and perform their religious rites within the limits of the provisions of law." Article 149 provides that the constitution cannot be amended to cease to require adherence to Islamic law. It adopts Islamic law as a constitutional principal which no other law can violate (Article 3), thus, constitutionally mandating a death penalty for any Muslim who converts to Christianity. And, Article 118 allows judges to be trained in Islamic jurisprudence rather than secular law.

I wonder if President Bush can say, when he reflects on his adventure in Afghanistan that he "saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Genesis, Chapter 1, Verse 31. Or, in the words he prefers: "Mission Accomplished!"

Afghanistan probably is better off. The new Taliban is kinder and gentler than the old one. I'm sure that the old regime wouldn't have been willing to free a man facing a death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity because "he was mentally unfit to stand trial." (This is likely a polite diplomatic and legal fiction.) Afghanistan has a democratically elected government with elections more fair than many countries that haven't had free elections for decades. It has a government more capable of remaining in power without foreign military aid than the one in Iraq, which has eight or ten times as many foreign troops on its soil, despite having a similar population and land area to Iraq, although it is still fighting its own low key civil war with the remnants of the Taliban. But, it is hard to call the war in Afghanistan an overall success.

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