Skip to comments.Why We Should Give A Damn
Posted on 04/11/2011 9:44:28 AM PDT by library user
Why should we give a damn about the Afghan people? Andy McCarthy asks. Our presence in Afghanistan, he says, is pointless.
Now, this is different than saying we would like to help them but the ability to do so is beyond our reach. Its also a separate matter from saying that there are countless claims on our conscience, but because of inherent limitations on our resources, the suffering the Afghan people are experiencing doesnt warrant our assistance. And its a different argument from saying we shouldnt continue to expend American blood in a 10-year-old war.
No, what McCarthy is arguing, in intentionally provocative words, is that we shouldnt give a damn about the Afghan people at all. The argument, presumably, is that Afghanistan is an impoverished country located on the other side of the world, inhabited by people who are not worthy even of our concern, let alone our care. If the Taliban retook control in Afghanistan and returned to their barbaric practices should be a matter of complete indifference to us. A similar argument could apply to the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the dissidents in China, the orphans in Romania, the earthquake victims in Haiti and Japan, and the children with malaria in Nigeria.
So why should we give a damn?
The answer is an important one, since it helps shape a world view. And the answer to it depends on the premises from which we beginin this case regarding teleology, the purpose and design of human nature, and the rights we are owed simply and only because we are human beings. For many of us this inevitably leads to the subject of theologywhether there is a Creator and if so, whether we are made in His image and precious in His sight. Assuming we are, certain rights are deemed to be unalienable, and willful indifference to human suffering is contrary to the mind and heart of God.
This is what Lincoln was getting at, I think, when he said, in his meditation on the words in the Declaration of Independence,
This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by his fellows.
For me as a Christian, McCarthys question is answered on the road to Jericho. It was in parable in Luke in which a Samaritanwho was viewed as a hated foreigner and a spiritual half-breedshowed mercy to a wounded stranger. What Jesus was teaching is that love and mercy are not restricted by national boundaries, that to love your neighbor means caring for strangers in need, and that as recipients of grace, we ought to demonstrate it to the outcast, to those deemed to be the other.
Now this ethic is not only intensely difficult to uphold in our daily lives, its extremely unclear how to translate it into public policy. A nation of limited resources cannot help everyone in need. We need to prioritize our commitments, including what we owe to our fellow citizens. And the compassion we might act on as individuals should not always express itself in action by the state. So it would certainly be wrong to draw the conclusion that mercy self-evidently demands that we remain in Afghanistan. But this ethic does, I think, begin to answer McCarthys question.
After reading McCarthys words I pulled from my shelf Something Beautiful for God, a short book on Mother Teresa in which Malcolm Muggeridge writes,
Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other. The God Mother Teresa worships cannot, we are told, see a sparrow fall to the ground without concern. For man, made in Gods image, to turn aside from the universal love, and fashion his own judgments based on his own fears and disparities, is a fearful thing bound to have fearful consequences.
That may not provide us with a governing blueprint. It doesnt specify how mercy should manifest itself. But it is at least a reason we should give a damn.
I am a reborn Paleocon and agree with McCarthy. Fortress America is sounding pretty good right about now.
What Afghanistan needs from us is about 50 planeloads of napalm on their Poppy fields.
Sure, we can care and pray for Afghanistan. But, using Gov’t to fix and solve problems is at the root of the issue.
Tha's wheh the hehwin come from.
Better by the day. We can't borrow enough money from China to be world policeman. In fact world policeman should be the first policeman to be laid off.
Actually Fortress America is as stupid as it always was.
How did this moron come to believe that this intervention was for the Afghani people? Never was, never will be.
Never wrestle a pig. You both get filthy and the pig likes it.
This is beginning to sum up Afghanistan, and most of the “Third World.” If they cross us, butcher them until they understand their mistake, then go home. If we want something they have, buy it at market price; if we need to secure the supply, colonize and to heck with the locals. Trying to help them is stupid; it just creates a dependency. Even trying to get them to help themselves is mostly futile. How many nations can anyone name where foreign assistance actually produced any forward progress?
If people want to spend private money to help them, fine. Otherwise, stop wasting coerced taxpayer dollars on these holes.
We didn’t learn a thing from Charlie Wilson’s War. Either go old Testiment on them or get out.
I guess I don't get the vitriol seeping out here. He makes that clear point that we should give a damn, but that sympathy is not a clear prescription for policy. To paraphrase Bismarck, Afghanistan is not worth the bones of one paratrooper. That does not mean that we must necessarily be callous to their suffering and their plight.
Why do we keep fighting long protracted wars in places where the natives don’t give a damn? It took 4 years, and alot of American blood before the Iraqi people started to take responsibility for their own country. Hell, at least they did it. We have been in Afghanistan for 10 years and the Afghans can barely tie their own shoes. We spent 15 years in Vietnam with very little support from the ARVN.
We went into all three countries with a purpose, and ended up getting bogged down because we over reached with our goals, or our politicians tied the hands of our warriors.
I believe Afghanistan is a hopeless cause.
The people do not want to join the rest of the world in the 21st century, and they damn sure aren’t interested in helping themselves.
On the other hand I have hope for Iraq. They have stepped up to the plate and put their own asses on the line. But there is a huge elephant in Iran lurking in the room. It will be interesting to see how we(the US and Iraq) deal with that.
I’d prefer that DC was the target. We need a major housecleaning and DC is where to start.
It’s about an oil pipeline, isn’t it?
I am willing to include Afghanistan in my evening prayers under the words “world’s poor”. That’s as far as I’ll go. My cash is reserved strictly for America’s needy.
Peter W. should put on his sackcloth and ashes and hop the next plane to Kabul to enlighten and uplift that beknighted people.
I see a problem with proclaiming humanitarian rights as the, and not a, reason to be in Afghanistan, because of the way in which our humanitarian involvement has been defined for this country. Eleanor Roosevelt defined U.S. criteria for war on international humanitarian issues within commitment to U.N. collective security. She wrote that equal and inalienable rights for the human family encompass rights to life, liberty and security of person. John Kennedy reinforced this commitment saying, We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Finally, Ronald Reagan said we cannot escape our destiny as the last best hope of afflicted mankind. All described a universal commitment to natural rights, and all Presidents should answer for deviations from that principle. Those principles do not fit because Afghanistan becomes, as George Orwell said in Animal Farm, more equal than the Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda.
However, accomplishing Afghan stability means thwarting efforts to turn a nuclear Pakistan into a feral state. Such a country would then fuel the ambitions of Islamic regimes determined to wage a War of Terror regionally and internationally.
Afghan stability also encourages the actions of African, Oriental and Asian Islamic countries which bring victory in the Global War on Terror. Their actions can frustrate plans, break alliances, and fracture Islamic jihadist organizations into ever less effective units. Without cities, countries or armies bin Laden, and successor sociopath prophets live out unnaturally shortened lives as pariahs.
THAT, sir, is pure bullshit.
If Eleanor Roosevelt liked it, its probably a really, really bad idea. Ditto for JFK. Even Saint Ronnie can be wrong sometimes.
Afghanistan has never been stable by any definition we understand. Its a tribal society and their people lack both the ability and inclination to govern themselves outside of that frame work. If you want stability in Afghanistan, you’re going to need a sociopath to run it, because he’s going to have to crush a lot of people to make the central government work. Iraq works (sort of) because we had Saddam to prepare the way.
Yes, we should be callous to their suffering and their plight. They created most of their problems. They seem to be refusing to take responsibility or ownership of them. IF they won’t help themselves, we sure as hell shouldn’t be wasting time helping them.