-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
As the United States draws down its military presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai has discovered yet another gimmick to extort money from the Americans. Karzai is demanding that the US pay $1000 for each shipping container that leaves the country. According to Afghan customs officials, the US military has racked up a total of $70 million in fines. The Kabul government has blocked inbound shipments of fuel and equipment in order to extort US compliance. If forced to ship by air, the additional costs could balloon to billions of dollars.
It is past time for the US to stop kowtowing to Karzai’s corruption. The custom “duties” can easily be subtracted from the bags of cash the CIA delivers to Karzai.
Karzai’s corruption is fast coming to an end. An immediate and permanent withdrawal of US military forces from Kabul would help focus Karzai’s attention on his own survival. Without US military protection, Karzai wouldn’t last a year.
Any idea that the US will leave behind a Afghan security force and army that will thwart the Taliban is a fantasy to soothe US political opinion. The Taliban are vicious immoral thugs whose religion allows them to morally justify their actions. That the Afghanistan people will be brutalized by the inevitable Taliban theocracy is a certainty. However abhorrent, it is up to the Afghans to remedy that situation. The US does not have the resources to save Muslims from Islam. The US can show the way by our exemplification of the rights of conscience found in our secular society.
In Syria, Turkey, and, until the recent coup, Egypt, movements promoting the intermingling of religion and state seem to be spreading. The US cannot afford, financially or ethically, to support these movements. The principles of secularism, separation of religion and state, and individuality free from religious prescription, need to be articulated persuasively. Just as Christians claim a right to be free from Islamic prescriptions, in a secular society, any individual can claim a right to be free from any religious prescriptions.
James Madison realized the essentiality of church/state separation when he wrote:
The members of a Govt as such can in no sense, be regarded as possessing an advisory trust from their Constituents in their religious capacities.
In his pinnacle work, Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote:
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.