Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Completing the Circle

Don't you think that extremist political stances are in some ways much closer together than they initially seem? The old idea of looking at political sentiment along a straight line segment, with one end labeled extreme conservatives and the other end labeled communists isn't completely correct. The mindsets of those who perch at each end of this line segment are more alike than different. Authoritarian thinking, for instance, is something I sense in all extremist writing. We really should bend the line segment into an almost closed circle. That way the extremists are perching close to each other, and this also explains why when some people shift politically they jump from one end of the spectrum to the other. In reality they just move a little along the circle.

In a similar way, the ideology of the radical Christianist right in this country isn't that terribly different from their worst enemies, the Islamist radicals. Which is one reason I found this statement by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist hilarious:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Monday that the Afghan war against Taliban guerrillas can never be won militarily and urged support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban" and their allies into the government.

The Tennessee Republican said he learned from briefings that Taliban fighters were too numerous and had too much popular support to be defeated on the battlefield.

"You need to bring them into a more transparent type of government," Frist said during a brief visit to a U.S. and Romanian military base in the southern Taliban stronghold of Qalat. "And if that's accomplished, we'll be successful."

Frist later said that his statement was taken out of context, and that he was talking about something different:

I'm currently overseas visiting our troops in Afghanistan, but I wanted to take a moment to address an Associated Press story titled, "Frist: Taliban Should Be in Afghan Gov't." The story badly distorts my remarks and takes them out of context.

First of all, let me make something clear: The Taliban is a murderous band of terrorists who've oppressed the people of Afghanistan with their hateful ideology long enough. America's overthrow of the Taliban and support for responsible, democratic governance in Afghanistan is a great accomplishment that should not and will not be reversed.

Having discussed the situation with commanders on the ground, I believe that we cannot stabilize Afghanistan purely through military means. Our counter-insurgency strategy must win hearts and minds and persuade moderate Islamists potentially sympathetic to the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the Afghan national government and democratic political processes.

Except that the moderate Taliban members are already in the Karzai government. But whatever. It looks like we are going to leave Afghanistan in exactly the same condition it was when the U.S. troops arrived, and there is no way to frame this into a victory. Unless you quite like the Taliban thinking on most issues, of course.