The forgotten fight

Sean Joseph

Professor, graduate skeptical of the state of Afghanistan

The conservative Taliban meets the “liberal” democracy of the Bush administration.

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States forced Afghanistan’s ruling government out of the capital city of Kabul and dispersed them throughout the nation, said Glenn Luther, a 2004 Kent State graduate who spent nine months overseas helping to establish Afghanistan’s first independent media.

Even though Hamid Karzai became the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan in October 2004, the Taliban still makes their presence known, Luther said.

“When you travel outside of Kabul, you have to have an armed escort,” he said. Luther was in the company of several American soldiers while visiting the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Osama Bin Laden is believed to be hiding.

The hunt for Bin Laden should still be at the top of the list, Luther said.

“The war is not over in Afghanistan — we just moved on to other places,” he said. “Osama should still be a main priority.”

Political science instructor Alvin Edgell said there is a good chance Bin Laden is not even in the region.

“We missed our best chance to catch him by invading Iraq,” Edgell said. “I suspect he is pretty well set up wherever he is. I doubt he’s still leaping from cave to cave.”

Edgell said the media does not paint an accurate picture of the state of affairs in Afghanistan. He said the Afghan culture is not likely to produce the kind of government Bush would like to see.

“There is going to be struggle and strife in Afghanistan for many years to come,” Edgell said. “The culture and history does not make it likely that we’re going to produce a liberal democracy.”

Edgell, who was stationed in Afghanistan while a member of the Peace Corps, said Afghanistan is the most conservative of all the nations that are dominated by Islam. One positive aspect he sees is the improvement of women’s rights, but there are traditions that are imbedded so deeply in Afghan society that some things will never change, Edgell said.

“We over-blow the importance of the elections in Afghanistan,” he said. “It can make things worse and might create tribal and civil war.”

Edgell said he thinks that the election might have been manipulated by the United States to get favorable results and might not be legitimate.

“I don’t think we’ll ever get what Bush promised us in Afghanistan,” Edgell said. “I think the best thing that could come out of this would be a government based on Islamic law and some degree of insurgency for a very long time.”

Chances are small that Americans will hear about anything from Afghanistan not involving their own troops, Luther said.

“Because we live in America, we have an interest in our own boys going overseas, but we have to look at the bigger picture,” Luther said.

Contact safety reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].