Monday, January 31, 2011

A Thousand Splendid Suns Part II

I just finished Hoseeini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns". It was seriously heart wrenching. You read about Afghanistan or similar countries in the news, but this book seriously puts you directly in the shoes of people living with the horrors of these countries.

I could generate a dozen posts on this book, like, a friend friend of mine did when she read the book a couple of years back. And maybe I will.

But it was a seriously good, moving, heart wrenching book. My first reaction is to think the US should never leave Afghanistan until we are sure the Taliban never have the opportunity to take control of that country again.

But also, I realize that in many ways, our country tends to really mess things up when we get involved in other's affairs. Here I'm thinking about the support we gave the Afghanistan Mujahideen during the 1980's when they were trying to expel the Soviet Union from their country. While reading the book, I had to look up Massoud a figure that comes up periodically in the book. Knowing very little about the nuances of Afghanistan history, but ever willing to express an opinion, this quote struck me from wikipedia:

"The United States provided Massoud with close to no support. Part of the reason was that it permitted its funding and arms distribution to be administered by Pakistan, which favored rival mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. In an interview Massoud expressed: "We thought the CIA knew everything. But they didn't. They supported some bad people [meaning Hekmatyar]." Primary advocates for supporting Massoud instead were State Department's Edmund McWilliams and Peter Tomsen, who were on the ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Others included two Heritage Foundation foreign policy analysts, Michael Johns and James A. Phillips, both of whom championed Massoud as the Afghan resistance leader most worthy of U.S. support under the Reagan Doctrine.["

Hekmatyar is also mentioned in the book and apparently he's the one who showers Kabul with rockets - the same rockets in the novel that kill Laila's parents.

Looking back, it's pretty obvious that the way we dealt with Russia was pretty myopic - as if they were the only bad guys in this world. I think Afghanistan could have turned out better if the US had used a little more sophistication in the way we handled the situation over there.

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