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Deepak Chakur, and Dorothy Rabinowitz

Deepak Chakur, on Hannity and Colmes tonight, decried Dorothy Rabinowitz’s knowledge of history when asked about her WSJ column regarding his statements. I’m afraid that Mr. Chakur is the one who needs to do a bit of research.

His thesis is that the proper response to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is to treat it as a negotiable difficulty in social relations – a view that can be supported, although I disagree with it. In advancing that view he suggested that Ms. Rabinowitz should understand the history of the Taliban, the former Mujahadin of Afghanistan that was supported in their war against the USSR by the US.

Perhaps Mr. Chakur should review the history, and I would have thought that with his own background in the Indian sub-continent he might have known it. The Tailiban are not the product of the Muhahadin of the Afghan/Soviet war. The Muhahadin, by definition, were the fighters defending their Islamic culture against the Sovietized central government. The Taliban wer not involved in that long battle, in fact I think the name Tailiban comes from an Afghan word for “student” (my linguistic skills aren’t that great, but I seem to remember that from somewhere). The Taliban were in the ideological schools while the Muhahadin were fighting the war. In the vacuum of victory the Taliban came out of hiding and snatched the nation, creating a theocracy that the Mujahadin didn’t envision in their quest to displace the Soviet style communist government.

I am not an historian, nor an expert on the nature of the Afghani culture. But what little I know of that country suggests that it is more a collection of tribes than a nation, and that they will resist any outside influence. And this is not a denigration of that, the entire history of mankind as a social animal has been a record of transition from family to clan, from clan to tribe, and from tribe to nation. The idealists among us would say that it is time to go from nation to world – and I’d agree with them, except that in many places we have barely gotten beyond clan.

This latter is not an indictment of any peoples, it is a recognition of differences that I think are geographically based. Can one expect that the peoples of a mountainous area like Afghanistan, where for centuries subsistance has been a problem, would form the same social thinking as a relatively uniform Europe? Hell, it took many centuries for Europe to develop from tribal communities into nations, and that on relatively uniform geography – and those nations were fighting bloody wars among each other until very recently.

My late father was a World Federalist as a Canadian in the thirties, a fond hope and a fine goal – but first the peoples of the world have to change their attitude. When some are religious fundamentalists, and others are clan or tribe based, there is no common ground.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Saturnalia, or my best for a winter Solstice, or whatever you celebrate at the time when the days start to lengthen and you can anticipate the advent of Spring and the budding of the flowers. My wife and I are a bit pagan as we aren’t docrinaire in any religion, but she has been keeping me busy in setting up the Christmas tree. A celebration of a season, and of memories – a time when we elderly reflect on the past, and plan for the future.

Deepak Chakur was wrong in his history of the Afghan conflict, and wrong in his view that good will can mitigate the problems of nations and/or tribes. I commend him for his views, and I wish he were right. This Conservative would prefer a world where the nations came together.

Best. Jon