The slow and difficult process of counting votes is underway in Afghanistan following an election that is said to be a test of the West’s determination to build a viable regime that will be able to fend off future Taliban attacks.
The expected charges of vote-rigging are flying, as reported here. And out in the deserts, thousands more American troops are moving into action. But according to this New York Times dispatch, “something is missing”– help from the Afghan government:
It all raises serious questions about what the American mission is in southern Afghanistan — to secure the area, or to administer it — and about how long Afghans will tolerate foreign troops if they do not begin to see real benefits from their own government soon. American commanders say there is a narrow window to win over local people from the guerrillas.
It’s interesting how different sides in a conflict make different use of the same words. We used to call mujahideen “freedom fighters” when the U.S. was financing them to fight the Russians. Now we call them “rebels” or “insurgents.” We say we’re there as “liberators.”
I was reminded of this watching TV Ontario’s Saturday Night at the Movies: a stark reminder of the bitterness of Afghanistan in a movie called The Beast.
A 1988 film, The Beast tells the story of a Russian tank crew stranded with their machine in the bleak wilderness of Kandahar during the Soviet-Afghan war.
It is decidely anti-Russian, depicting the terror-crazed tank commander as a sadistic monster willing to kill his own men as well as the enemy. It was filmed in southern California and the actors portraying the mujahideen were all Iraqis. They deliver a stunning performance in a thoroughly believable plot.
Who are the “beasts” in today’s Afghanistan? Obviously, the Taliban would nominate a different casts of players than would we. Canada has lost over 125 people there, but that is miniscule compared to the numbers of deaths the people of Afghanistan have had to endure.
If you haven’t seen The Beast, I suggest visit your video store today to see if you can rent a copy. Watching it won’t change the fact that the Taliban represent an oppressive, primitive force that will do no good for their homeland. But it may remind you that they’re human, too, and grieve for their losses.