Posted by: Staff | 02.11.2010

A Different Perspective on the NATO and Taliban


Greeting us with kind words and open arms, the Afghanistan students were excited to share their opinions about the NATO forces and the Taliban. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affair, Judith McHale, joined us as we virtually– on Skype — discussed with the Afghan students about pressing issues in their country.

Barack Obama recently announced the deployment of 30,000 more NATO troops into Afghanistan with the intention of training the Afghan army, securing key population centers, and targeting the insurgency. One of the reasons the troops are needed is because of the current situation with the Taliban, a Sunni Islamist political group that ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. Although they were legally removed from power, they still have a huge presence in the country with an effective insurgency against Western forces and the Afghanistan government. Their operations have not just hurt Afghanistan, but also the rest of the world with terrorist attacks, such as September 11th and the hiding of Osama bin Laden. In Afghanistan, they commit terrorist attacks which stir violence and thus create a very unsafe and unstable country. The Taliban has formed an advanced financial network to pay for their operations by raising money from illicit drug trade, kidnappings, extortion, and foreign donations. The Taliban is an overarching threat to the peace and security of the people of Afghanistan.

 Although the students agreed with us that the Taliban was essentially hurting their homeland, they were apprehensive about NATO troops. They accepted the fact that NATO has the right intentions, but they stated that the troops are not establishing themselves correctly and that they are destroying their culture and killing civilians. Since NATO is trying to combat terrorism, the troops are forced to make sudden attacks on people they think are involved with the Taliban, thus costing innocent lives. The students thought that NATO should be more careful with their military actions, and Senator McHale responded by saying that Obama is indeed trying to cut back on the superfluous killings. When asked about the timetable of the troops, Senator McHale stated that she is very optimistic that Obama can deploy the NATO troops by 2013 with the main focus on training the Afghan military.

     The students responded with, “Thank you very much for your existence,” coupled with a bouquet of beautiful pink flowers. Although our views differed, the students were extremely grateful to have this opportunity to debate and discuss a problem right at their doorstep. They greeted all of our students with open arms and although at times the communication got awkward due to misunderstandings and conflicting views, overall the debate was eye opening and a futuristic way to teach about current events.  Maybe Beaver will enhance our debate next time with a trip to Afghanistan to pick up the flowers, but because of huge liability issues, probably not.


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