Posted by: Mike P. | April 20, 2010

A New Theme and “My Life With the Taliban”

I chose the first theme for this blog at random.  I had no idea if I would ever write anything or if anyone would even read what I write.  I would not say I have a large readership, but I have fun doing this.  I think I have two pretty regular readers, which I think is pretty cool.  I know, two.  But, that’s two more people I can get to know than before.  I am not one of those people with 500 friends on Facebook.  I pretty much actually know everyone I am friends with there – with some exceptions for people I want to get to know.

I just finished reading Abdul Salam Zaeef’s book My Life with the Taliban.  To say that I am conflicted would be very minimalistic.  I think he makes the case that religion must never be part of the government without realizing it.  He wants to be free to practice his beliefs, but does not seem to understand that others believe differently, and that in order to live a life where one is free to practice one’s beliefs, you must also tolerate other beliefs.

The beginning of the Taliban movement had a noble purpose.  A group of men saw their country being destroyed by armed groups who had no restraint and felt that they could do whatever they wanted to in order to maintain control over their little fiefdom.  With essentially no oversight, no functioning police, these groups ravaged the population with the expected results.  Libertarians take note.

So, a group of like-minded individuals who knew each other and had built trust in each other from their days spent fighting against the Soviet Union formed the Taliban and attacked the rogue Mujahedeen groups who had lost their Western financing and had turned to robbing and raping as a way of life.  At least this is Zaeef’s account.  I have not researched this properly.  But, I will accept this account of affairs and respect their initial intentions as honorable and brave.

However, their implementation of Islamic law seems to have overruled common sense.  It does not make sense for me to just quote the book – you can read it for yourself.  And I am not enough of a scholar in this region to offer useful commentary.  But, quite frankly, I was left with the feeling that I could substitute a Sarah Palin led US Govt. and end up with a similar story.  Religion is a belief, a faith.  And faith is not a useful form of government.

To state the obvious, people have different faiths and typically do not want to be subject to someone else’s.  Faith is not absolute.  It’s really that simple.  You can argue platitudes like “I live by God’s Law” all you want.  The interpretation and meaning of that statement differs from faith to faith, and indeed person to person.  I could go on, but you either agree with me, or you are not likely to be swayed by anything I say here.  If you disagree, pray on it.  Think about it.

And now, on to Ill Fares the Wind by Tony Judt.  I suggest listening to his recently broadcast interview on NPR (I think it was Fresh Air).  He offers some very interesting perspectives on life with a view that I will let you discover yourself.


  1. I think u are stating that the Taliban was an indigenous is not so simple..Taliban was a product of the Pakistani army who want a religious fundamentalist Pashtun government in Afghanistan,who can do there bidding.I am a Pashtun from Pakistan but i don’t consider myself a pakistani…I don’t recognise the Durand line and i will always consider myself Afghan and I want a progressive and ethnically inclusive govt in Afghanistan with Pashtun dominance(coz they are majority).

    • I am a novice in this. I am trying to understand so I have some clue what US policy should be in the Middle East and surrounding areas. I wish to have an educated opinion, but I need to read a great deal more.

      Zaeef seemed to be saying that the initial formation of the Taliban was in response to the anarchy left in Afghanistan. He indicated that much came from “the people”, but of course there are ways to funnel money in such a manner.

      I am glad that you wish for an inclusive government in Afghanistan. Would you bring religion into your state’s laws, or would you try to create a separation between the various faiths, the government and its laws?


      “In the popular imagination, Kandahar is known as the homeland of the Taliban. And it is: in 1994, a small group of religious students instigated a violent revolt against the predatory and oppressive rule of the mujahidin, giving birth to the Taliban.” — Joshua Foust

      Perhaps the Taliban later received funding and weapons from Pakistan. However, the overall impression I have of the birth of the Taliban does not directly relate to the Pakistan.

  2. Hehe… third theme in as many minutes. We’ll see if I like this one. Some of these are unreadable. Kind of odd, when you think about.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: