Monday, December 22, 2008

From Bill Moyers Journal

I'd like to thank all of you for writing in. And I'll rapidly answer a couple of your notes, which I feel can be addressed in less than several thousand words.
1. Of course the Taliban are not entirely monolithic. But those who are "reconcilable," to use a current catchword, would "come in" if the Afghan government were tolerable. You wouldn't need to engage in a formal negotiating process to make that happen, unless to set conditions under which they would not be liable for prosecution!
2. One documentary was done on me, it was called alternatively "Life After War" (Sundance Channel) and "A House for Hajji Baba." (Frontline/World). It was produced in 2002. And I think you would be astounded at how the issues it reveals echo everything I discussed with Bill. It was all there to behold, back in 2002 -- for anyone who was watching.
3. Beware of ideologies, even those of the "left." To suggest that any military intervention of any kind, anywhere in the world, for any reason, is evil and ill-begotten is just as ideological as to mechanically favor pre-emptive invasion as a solution to major international problems. Please. Use your intelligences. Different cases in different countries and historical periods are different and require different responses. If Pearl Harbor had not been bombed, should we not have engaged in World War II, for example? What about Rwanda? Shouldn't there have been a more robust international military intervention there? I am not comparing Afghanistan to those cases, I am just saying that distinctions need to be made, including between Iraq and Afghanistan. While I was strongly opposed to the war in Iraq, and while I thought that having made the decision to prosecute it, there were ways to have prosecuted it that would have been much less disasterous than the way we did, I would not wish to discourse on the best way, now, to disengage. I simply don't know enough, as much as I may read and think about it. I would urge you all to consider that one-size-fits-all is poor policy, no matter what size it is.
4. I must say that in my experience in Afghanistan, I have encountered a higher proportion of military officers who are acting in genuinely good faith, who are throwing themselves to the best of their ability and with rather little compensation, into efforts to improve the situation of people half a world away, than many "humanitarians," who are not without their share of corruption and careerism. This isn't to say the military, both institutionally and individually, hasn't gotten it wrong, often, sometimes with devastating effect. But I have been impressed by the motivations and good faith efforts of a great many of the US and NATO officers I have encountered.
Posted by: Sarah Chayes December 21, 2008 7:57 AM

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In this my personal Christian blog, I hope to be discursive and now and then critical. What I write here is tentative and tensive. I post thoughts, feelings, and observations somewhat randomly and often in immediate response to current events and posts on other blogs.

"Serendipitous Creativity" from Gordon Kaufman

"I suggested that what we today should regard as God is the ongoing creativity in the universe - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative; …

"In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous …

"I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems …

"This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs."

Gordon Kaufman, Mennonite Life, December 2005 vol. 60 no. 4

Melville is a rational man who

"Melville is a rational man who wants God to exist. He wants Him to exist for the same reasons we all do: to be our rescuer and appreciator, to act as a confidant in our moments of crisis and to give us reassurance that, over the horizon of our deaths, we will survive." (John Updike)

And that is a problem for me.

Fragmented Notions

Fragmented Notions
Copyright © 2007 Jean and Alexander Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

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