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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hello Mullah, Hello Faddah

Birth control in Afghanistan:

The message was simple. Babies are good, but not too many; wait two years before having another to give your wife’s body a chance to recover. Nothing in Islam expressly forbids birth control. But it does emphasize procreation, and mullahs, like leaders of other faiths, consider children to be blessings from God, and are usually the most determined opponents of having fewer of them.

It is an attitude that Afghanistan can no longer afford, in the view of the employees of the nonprofit group that runs the seminars, Marie Stopes International. The high birthrate places a heavy weight on a society where average per capita earnings are about $700 a year. It is also a risk to mothers. Afghanistan is second only to Sierra Leone in maternal mortality rates, which run as high as 8 percent in some areas.

This, however, is the money quote:

In Mazar-i-Sharif, it is one mullah at a time.

Mr. Massoom, the mullah trainer, put it most directly. “This is an Islamic country,” he said. “If the clerics support this, no one will oppose it.”

There, in a nutshell, have you the problem with the Islamic world. To some this would be proof enough to leave Afghanistan to its fate. When you've left the Middle Ages, give us a call. That would be the wrong approach. As we've seen within the last decade, letting the primitive fanaticism fester is no longer an option. Back in the days of the British Empire, we could let a small expeditionary force keep the medievalists at bay. A whiff of grapeshot and the civilized world could be left in peace. 

The Mad Mullah who terrorized Somalia a century ago, had a limited remit. He was a nuisance to the British, Italian and Ethiopian governments, but it was unlikely he or his followers could show up in London within a few hours, causing havoc. A globalized world means globalized pathologies. The simple thing would be to shut the door. Muslim fanaticism a problem? Just keep out the Muslim. Leaving aside that this would entail trapping civilized and decent people in the living nightmare of theocracy - whichever version - it would also fail. 

Short of closing down the modern world's economy, there is no keeping out the determined and the ingenious. It also fails in the light of simple military strategy. You can win a defensive war only against a larger power, one that becomes exhausted in hurling resources at a seemingly immovable target. A small and nimble enemy wins by keeping up the fight against a larger opponent. To win, the Islamists simply have to keep fighting. For the West to win, it needs to destroys its enemies. While Iran is of far greater immediate danger, the battle for Afghanistan is Exhibit A in the longer term battle against Islamic fanaticism. It needs to become a place where if clerics support something, people will feel comfortable in opposing it. Until that happens, Afghanistan will remain the graveyard of empires, and a destabilizing force in Central Asia, and by extension the world.

Posted by Richard Anderson on November 26, 2009 | Permalink


It needs to become a place where if clerics support something, people will feel comfortable in opposing it. Until that happens, Afghanistan will remain the graveyard of empires, and a destabilizing force in Central Asia, and by extension the world.

Great. And what do you do if people don't want to oppose it and in fact support it?

Posted by: Keyser Söze | 2009-11-26 11:13:28 AM

do you think Afghanistan might be better able to look after mothers, babies, and modernization, if the Harper Obama gang GOT THE HELL OUT?

Afghanistan could support only, oh, another 100 million people if only the civilization-destroying, neo-malthusian neocons stopped robbing our people to destroy theirs.

Posted by: JC | 2009-11-26 4:07:02 PM

Oh dear people supporting having children instead of state funded free abortion. Hard to imagine living in Canada.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-11-26 6:13:45 PM

Publius, you're dreaming the neocon dream. the fantasy is over.


Posted by: shel | 2009-11-27 8:26:23 PM

Some people just assume Afghanistan is peopled by lovers of freedom, justice, ice cream and everything nice. They are deluded. They are already asses. One does not withdraw from Islamic places. One takes them over!

Posted by: Agha Ali Arkhan | 2009-11-27 10:02:22 PM

Reports indicate that the Swiss referendum on the banning of the building of minarets has passed. Good for the Swiss. The West is finally waking up. The next referendum should be to end muslim immigration.


Posted by: The Stig | 2009-11-29 6:46:06 AM

Thats it create religious oppression to insure future turmoil in switzerland, good for the apartheidists.
Posted by: Swiss apartheid | 2009-11-29 8:59:51 AM

Islam wasn't banned in Switzerland the building of minarets was. When the Turkish PM said that minarets are the bayonets of islam the Swiss took notice. If the Swiss had really wanted to play hardball they could have insisted that minarets can be built when Saudi Arabia allows churches in the country.

Why are most you different versions of stig, stupid and unbelivably short sighted, with narrow minded vision based in christiam fundamentalism?
Posted by: Swiss apartheid | 2009-11-29 8:59:51 AM

It would help if you could write in at least semi-coherent English. Now bugger back off to your madrass in Pakistan.

Posted by: The Stig | 2009-11-29 1:47:01 PM

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