In the aftermath of the deaths of two NATO soldiers in the spiraling Afghan Qur’an burning demonstrations, the US is withdrawing soldiers from Kabul ministries.
Media personalities everywhere have reflected on the Qur’an burning disaster in Afghanistan, and we have now officially reached the absurd point where conservative pundits blame everything on Afghanis themselves.
As is to be expected, Rick Santorum swung away from President Obama’s apology for the United States soldiers having burned the Qur’an, by stating that President Obama's apology had "made it sound like there was something that you should apologize for, and there was no act that needed an apology."
Exactly the kind of reasoned, compassionate, diplomatic qualties that one should look for in the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth.
On the Afghani side, we have parliament members who are spinning the story the other way, and declaring Jihad against America: “Americans are invaders, and jihad against Americans is an obligation,” said Abdul Sattar Khawasi.
Equally Looovely. Afghanistan is on on-going disaster, undergoing a frightening re-Talibanization, narco-violence is on the rise, and the elected officials are declaring Jihad left and right.
Why would the Afghanis be angry? Because since 2007, there have been 11,864 documented civilian casualties in their country. The actual number is likely to be much, much higher, given all the challenges at documenting casualties in a war-torn, difficult to navigate country like Afghanistan.
Why wold the Afghanis be angry? Because children routinely freeze to death in their country. The New York Times has listed a series of images from children in danger of freezing: and also a list of children who have already frozen to death in one camp. These children have faces, they have names, they have moms and dads, and they were all under five years old:
¶ Mirwais, son of Hayatullah Haideri. He was 1 ½ years old and had just started to learn how to walk, holding unsteadily to the poles of the family tent before flopping onto the frozen ridges of the muddy floor.
¶ Abdul Hadi, son of Abdul Ghani. He was not even a year old and was already trying to stand, although his father said that during those last few days he seemed more shaky than normal.
¶ Naghma and Nazia, the twin daughters of Musa Jan. They were only 3 months old and just starting to roll over.
¶ Ismail, the son of Juma Gul. “He was never warm in his entire life,” Mr. Gul said. “Not once.”
What’s gut-wrenching is that these preventable deaths from cold, in a country where winter is entirely predictable, is that this all comes after what the NY Times correctly describes as “after 10 years of a large international presence, comprising about 2,000 aid groups, at least $3.5 billion of humanitarian aid and $58 billion of development assistance.”
This is not an attempt to justify or explain away the wrath at the Qur’an burning incidents.
It is, however, a plea for the need to contextualize.
And the contextualization is that thousands of Afghani civilians are dying, and children under the age of five are freezing, in spite of billions of dollars in aid.
You would be angry too, if this were (Heaven forbid) your own children.
The children of Afghanistan, all of our children, deserve better.