I have been critical of the US government's misguided views and policies regarding the Middle East and I have also been, maybe naively so, hopeful that President Obama will reach out diplomatically towards this region to bring about a new reconciliation that is so desperately needed in this post-9/11 world. Diplomacy, however, has its limits and if there is one group that is not misunderstood in the Middle East - it is the Taliban. Ideologically backwards and brutal in its methods, the Taliban is, without doubt, a dangerous threat to this world. I have been as critical as anyone else regarding former President Bush's inability to capture Osama Bin Laden during his term, but it would have been a mere symbolic victory of the 9/11 tragedy that still wouldn't absolve us of the frightening ambitions of the Taliban - our enemy in Afghanistan. The Taliban implements the strictest form of Sharia Law in the Muslim world which includes:
-complete ban of women's work outside the home
-ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses
-ban on women's pictures appearing in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops
-music is banned for everyone, as well as movies, television, and videos
-anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed
-anyone carrying objectionable literature will be executed
-ban on women laughing loudly
-compulsory painting of all windows, so women cannot be seen from outside their homes
-complete ban of women's education
The Taliban has been slowly inching its way into Pakistan hoping to enforce this extreme brand of Islam into the country, going so far as to publicly behead those who do not adhere to their ways recently in the Swat District of Pakistan. Despite the fact that the Pakistani army has completely outnumbered the Taliban fighters in the battle over the Swat region, the Pakistani government this week declared that it was now willing to allow the Taliban to impose Islamic law there in exchange for a ceasefire. Does the Pakistani government honestly believe that the Taliban will stop there? This is the first step in a worse case scenario that becomes more and more plausible everyday - the Taliban overthrowing an already unstable Pakistani government that is armed with nuclear weapons.
I honestly believe that our war in Afghanistan is as complex a battle as Vietnam, where both enemy and civilian are hard to differentiate and victory seems unlikely. However, any notion of us leaving is now off the table with the recent events unfolding in Pakistan. Hopefully, foreign leaders will wake up and realize that the Taliban is a threat to the world and not just an isolated problem that the US should be left to deal with alone.