A Reminder

Making my way through the Sunday papers I was floored by a small article buried on page A33 of The Washington Post.  The article is an Associated Press dispatch from Kabul that reports that 20 teachers that have been murdered by the resurgent Taliban this year. (198 schools have been burned down as well). Apparently the targeting of teachers is outlined in a 30-point strategy document that was drafted in September by the Taliban leadership – including Mullah Mohammad Omar – to coordinate their stepped-up campaign to reclaim their tyrannical perch atop the beleaguered Afghani nation.

Rule No. 24 of the document forbids anyone to work as a teacher under the current Karzai-led regime because, “this strengthens the system of the infidels.” The document stipulates that Taliban henchman should first warn the teachers, then beat the teachers, and if they continue to insist on educating the young minds of Afghanistan, slaughter the teachers.

As I mentioned above, I was staggered by this article. And I think my shock is telling. The headlines are so dominated with news out of Iraq – horrible, grim news – that I have lost sight of the barbarity in Afghanistan. But not just that, I had become numb to the inexplicably evil nature of the Taliban movement. One of the most compelling critiques of the War on Iraq is that it took our focus of Afghanistan, where we really had (and I hope “have”) a chance to build something decent. (I thought the Bush Administration could walk and chew gum. I thought wrong.) The debate over the next few months will be about what to do in Iraq – and rightfully so – but Afghanistan should not stray too far off our radar screens. In addition, it is worth mentioning Barack Obama’s idea that as we draw down troop levels in Iraq (which he is in favor of on some sort of timetable) we should redeploy those troops to Afghanistan to bolster the faltering NATO-led effort. Food for thought.

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