[I wrote this while I was on my way to England]
At the moment I am thirty seven thousand feet in the air over Halifax, Nova Scotia going 630 miles an hour, one and a half hours into my six and a half hour flight to England. I have not had a chance to post in my journal in a few days, because I was very busy packing, unpacking and repacking my luggage. It amazing how much room a year?s supply of life takes up. I look at what I am taking and I don’t think I have too much, then I try to pack it and I find myself jumping up and down atop both of my suite cases.
Anyway, I wanted to post my thoughts on President Bush’s speech to the country Thursday night. My main thought on the speech was that the speech was too inflammatory and accusative. President Bush spent a significant portion of the speech vilifying the Taliban. Describing the religious laws imposed by a theocracy as oppressive and unjust does not seem to me to be the best way to encourage a diplomatic solution to the current situation. The Taliban have not bowed to the US demands to turn over Osama bin Laden, and by all appearances will not. I agree with the President saying that if they are not with us they are with the terrorist and therefore against us, but I do not think he should have go so far as to vilify them. This vilification of the Taliban seams to suggest that we are out to end their way of life; something that the President stated was not the case.
The one point of the speech that really angered me was the demand that the aid workers be set free. I see no connection between the terrorist acts and the aid workers. These eight people went to Afghanistan voluntarily and then broke the law. While we may not agree that apostatizing is an offense, the Taliban are a religious theocracy, and under their laws it is an offense, one that is punishable by death. The aid workers broke the law and should be held accountable. I do not believe they should be put to death but I am part of a different culture, and the Taliban control these peoples fate. There is legal precedence for the Taliban conviction and punishing these people. Anytime one travels to a foreign country one is subject to the laws of that country, and ignorance or a different way of life is no deference. Many of us remember the case of Michael Fay (sp?) Who was convicted of vandalism in Singapore. His punishment under the Singaporean laws was caning, and thought we in the US would define this as cruel and unusual we have no say in the matter because Fay broke the law and was convicted, there for subject to punishment. In the end he was caned and sent back to the US with a sore ass. I see no difference here, the Taliban have every right to punish people under their rule who break the law. The aid workers pleaded guilty to apostatizing and can only await their punishment.
It seems to me that now there is no chance that these eight people will ever be heard from again. By telling the Taliban to give them up, we are saying to the Taliban that they are not sovereign, (they did come to power in a coup, but since they control 95% of the country they have the power in Afghanistan. And remember the American government came to power in a coup. Who are we to say, that they are illegitimate?) We have guaranteed a sentence of death for the aid workers. I wonder if this was not calculated on the part of the government, if people who we, as Americans, see as innocent are put to death by a foreign government, many of who’s practices we do not agree with and who harbors the terrorist who committed the acts of September 11, 2001, the people of the US will, for the most part feel justified in declaring war on the people of Afghanistan, not just terrorism, because now we have made them one and the same.