Moral Standing to Blame: South Asian Edition

I can’t wait for someone to address this example in the literature on “moral standing to blame“:

Text 1:

In his address on Monday, Mr. Ghani broke with the former administration’s tactic of describing the Taliban as discontented brothers in the hopes of urging them to talks. Mr. Ghani called the insurgents terrorists who “take pleasure in the torn-up bodies of our innocents,” and their leaders “slavelike” and involved in narcotics mafias. He also declared the end of “amnesty without cause” for arrested Taliban, many of whom had in the past returned to the battlefield after release from prisons. …

Although the door for peace talks is not completely shut, officials now say Mr. Ghani, under enormous pressure because of stagnation on every other front, was forced to take a tougher stance as Pakistan repeatedly failed to fulfill promises. Mr. Ghani’s advisers are nevertheless encouraged that during the quadrilateral process, Pakistan has come out of a long-held denial about Taliban sanctuaries on its soil, both in private discussions as well as in public.

Satraj Aziz, the adviser on foreign policy to Pakistan’s prime minister, said last month that his country had influence over the Taliban, but not control.

“We have some influence on them because their leadership is in Pakistan, and they get some medical facilities, their families are here,” he said. “So we can use those levers to pressurize them to say, Come to the table.” (Mujib Mashal, “Afghan Leader Demands Pakistan Take on Taliban,” New York Times, April 26, 2016).

Text 2:

The State Department would not comment on Monday, saying it could not discuss individual visa cases for privacy reasons. But for years, there has been broad agreement among American officials about Mr. Dostum, who stands apart for his brutal past even when measured against the alleged crimes and misdeeds of many of the people the United States has relied on during the war in Afghanistan.

The State Department has called him “the quintessential warlord.” A former American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry, warned in 2009 that Mr. Dostum’s mere presence in the country would “endanger much of the progress made in Afghanistan.”

That same year, Ashraf Ghani, who is now Afghanistan’s president, called Mr. Dostum a “known killer.” But that was years before Mr. Ghani decided that he needed Mr. Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, to help secure votes among Uzbeks, one of Afghanistan’s crucial minorities in the 2014 presidential election. (Matthew Rosenberg, “Vice President of Afghanistan, but Barred from U.S.,” The New York Times, April 26, 2016).

With real-life examples like these, who needs thought experiments?

On a positive note, at least the Pakistani government has emerged from denial. “A person can live in bad faith, which does not mean that he does not have abrupt awakenings to cynicism or to good faith, but which implies a constant and particular style of life” (Sartre, Being and Nothingness, II.1). Countries, too.

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