A leopard can’t change its spots any more than we can change our primal instinct for revenge — but it’s not for our lack of trying.
The video of four U.S. soldiers urinating on three dead Afghan militants has sparked outrage because it dumps on our sensibilities of what is acceptable behavior in the modern world. That’s a problem when one society prefers a politically correct eye-for-an-eye while another favors a plain old eye-for-an-eye — preferably freshly plucked out a publicly executed head to cheers from the masses.
It has been 10 years since the U.S. launched a war in Afghanistan to destabilize the Taliban and combat terrorism, and the cost has been immense to Americans: 1,878 troops are dead and more than $500 billion spent.
Meanwhile, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has vowed, “If there is war between Pakistan and America, we will stand by Pakistan,” and now the Obama administration wants to release five top Taliban jihadists from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for a peace deal with the re-energized terror group — a regressive move destined to blow up in our faces.
Last March, Congress even committed $1.283 trillion more to the War on Terror — $444 billion of it for Afghanistan — although our forces are being killed by the same Afghan soldiers they have trained to fight militants.
In a perfect world, there would be no war and people would live in harmony; an ideal that has found more of a foothold in the west than in the east because somewhere along the evolutionary path we learned that freedom was the ultimate equalizer, while our sworn enemies thought it better to pursue oppression — to the bitter end.
Afghanistan wouldn’t merit a second thought it if wasn’t one of the most geopolitically dangerous regions in the world, surrounded by nuclear China, Russia, India, and Pakistan, which have historically struggled with their own humanity, systematically squeezing the souls — and lives — out of their own people.
Thanks to American intervention in Afghanistan, the next generation is learning how not to be the automaton of dictators.
Two weeks ago, the Pakistani tweenie Abdul Samat was recruited off the streets by the Taliban, blindfolded and rigged with explosives, and driven to the Afghan city of Kandahar to detonate a bomb that he was told would kill American “infidels,” but spare his own life. Seconds before the attack, the boy had an epiphany and backed out.
“When I opened my eyes, I saw it was a very black thing they wanted me to do,” he later stated, with wisdom his elders could learn from.
Little has changed in Afghanistan, certainly since 1963 when James Michener wrote his roman à clef, “Caravans,” setting it in 1945 Kabul. He writes, “I noticed at the doorway to the mosque, three mullahs … with fierce eyes who appeared to be guarding the holy place and condemning me, a non-Muslim for passing so near. When I looked at them politely, they stared back with undisguised hatred and I thought, these are the men who rule Afghanistan.”
In the War on Terror there is no room for self-deprecation, and the point should resonate with critics bent on vilifying the U.S. over its barbaric enemies — just because they can.Shavana Abruzzo's column appears every Friday on BrooklynDaily.com. E-mail her at sabrruzzo@