On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow explained how the death of Bin Laden opened the door to the end of the war in Afghanistan.
Here is the video:
Rachel Maddow began, “Word of the day, Pashtunwali. Pashtunwali is the tribal code of honor and custom of the Pashtun people, who are dominant in big swabs of Afghanistan and in Pakistan. According to Pashtunwali if you offer to take somebody in particularly if that person is seeking refuge from some threat, your hospitality to that person is an unbreakable thing. Your hospitality, your protection of someone you have taken in, is your honor, your family’s honor, your tribe’s honor. Pashtunwali, no matter what the threat is, or where it is coming from or why, you will protect someone who is your guest from that threat, no matter the threat, on your honor. It has been that way for centuries.”
Maddow continued, “When 9/11 happened, Osama Bin Laden was someone’s guest. Mullah Omar the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan had taken Osama Bin Laden in years earlier, and offered him protection and hospitality when Bin Laden was on the run from the US and from everyone else in the world who was after him for his various acts of terrorism. After Bin Laden brought down the Twin Towers and attacked the Pentagon, Mullah Omar continued to abide by his by Pashtun tribe’s code of hospitality. He would not hand over Bin Laden as America demanded, so America’s war in Afghanistan began….”
Later the MSNBC host later explained why negotiations to end the war could not occur while Bin Laden was alive, “This could not have before because of his hospitality, because of his honor code. Because Mullah Omar had extended hospitality and protection personally to Osama Bin Laden, and they therefor would never turn him in…”
Rachel Maddow explained that with the death of Bin Laden the barrier to Omar talking to the US is gone, “Now that Osama Bin Laden is dead, the barrier to Mullah Omar and the Taliban talking to the United States is gone. Those negotiations are reportedly happening now, and those negotiations are how the war finally ends.”
After discussing the growing political consensus in the US to end the war in Afghanistan, Maddow said, “Memorial Day is Monday. Veterans Day is a joyous holiday where we celebrate veterans’ service. Memorial Day is not a joyous holiday. It is a somber day to remember those killed fighting our nation’s wars. From what we know what’s happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and what is happening in our nation’s capital, the signs are that we are now starting to finally bring to an end our nation’s longest war ever. It may be that the less said about that the better. Since maybe talking about this inevitably politicizes it, and politicizing the ending of this war is probably the only thing that can keep it going on longer. But it is starting to finally come to an end now, and the toll now stands officially at 1, 596 American lives.”
By giving up on catching Osama Bin Laden, George W. Bush and the Republican Party prolonged the war in Afghanistan for years. Of course without Afghanistan, the neo-cons would have never had the justification to invade Iraq, so ignoring Bin Laden served their purposes well. When we bother to focus on anything involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we pay passing attention to the casualties, but we often forget the hundreds of thousands of young Americans who have been wounded in combat.
It is important that we remember and honor the dead, but we should not forget those Americans who have been wounded by war. In 2009, the Rand Corporation estimated that 360,000 of the 1.8 million troops who served may have suffered some type of brain injury. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center there have been 168,000 + traumatic brain injuries in the military from 2001-2010. This statistic does not include PTSD and other mental health issues that now plague many of our returning veterans.
You can be opposed to these wars on principle, but no one should forget the fact that 1.8 million Americans and their families had their lives changed by the decision to go to war. The war in Afghanistan looks to be lurching towards its end, and it took the killing of Osama Bin Laden to get the ball rolling. Increasingly most Americans agree that since Bin Laden is dead, it’s time to bring the troops home, and push the vestiges of our Bush era cowboy foreign policy into the past.
On Monday, we will pause to remember the dead.
On Tuesday, let’s remind ourselves to care for those who were lucky enough to make it home.