Jesus asks us to love our enemies, to do good to those who harm us, and to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. What does this mean for U.S. policy in Afghanistan?
It means we should imagine what it would be like to be an Afghan civilian, with legitimate grievances about the corruption of the current Afghan government, along with a continuing sense of repression and humiliation by both external forces and the Taliban. What if a foreign government dropped bombs on our towns in its effort to kill terrorists among us? How would we want to be treated if Afghanistan were our own country?
The Taliban are rightly condemned for their intolerance to pluralism, as well as for their discrimination and violence against women and others who don’t follow their interpretation of Islam. To love our enemies means that it is also right to imagine ourselves in the shoes of even the Taliban—or, at least, in the environment where they took root: the cold and windy refugee camps where, over decades, poor, landless children of a nation ravaged by imperial powers grew up angry, defiant, humiliated, and ready to fight for revenge.
Jesus also tells us to pay more attention to the log in our eye rather than the speck of dust in our neighbor’s. There is no doubt Afghanistan is full of dust. But what are the logs in our own eyes? Elements of U.S. policy in Afghanistan simply don’t make sense.
First, there is widespread evidence that the presence of U.S. troops and bomb-dropping drone aircraft ends up fueling the insurgency and helping the Taliban and al Qaeda recruit new members. We need to question the strategic, as well as the moral, rationale for the U.S.’s militaristic approach.