Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Violence works

"Violence works" was Professor Thad Russell's repeated mantra in his history class, "American Civilization after the Civil War" (Spring 2005, Barnard College). His point was about American activist history and that diplomatic means of political advocacy could not match the change wrought by insurgent tactics.

My gut reaction is that the removal of humanitarian people and organizations from places like Afghanistan and Iraq is devastating to the greater political process because they - perhaps more than our military civil affairs and government-based aid/development orgs - embody the positive (progressive) promise of the Western relationship in its most interactive form.

Further, I believe their introduction, relationship-building, and then removal under threat has been more damaging to our mission and empowering to the insurgents than if they had been absent from the beginning. The tactic of targeting "non-combatants" has been repeatedly validated, and more significantly, the gap left by the aid groups' removal has severely undermined the full-spectrum interactions necessary to bring about the so-called "political" solution in the peace-building process.

Read this and despair: YONHAP NEWS: Afghanistan kidnappings keep Korean missionaries from going overseas

Excerpt:

Rev. Park Eun-jo of Sammul Church in Seongnam, south of Seoul, to which all the hostages belong, said Monday that the church will stop volunteer services unwanted by the Afghan government and is taking steps to pull the remaining volunteers out of the war-torn country. "Some already began preparations to return home," a church official said.

In Afghanistan, volunteer workers affiliated with about 10 nongovernmental organizations were to soon close their medical and educational aid activities and return home. "The South Korean Embassy in Afghanistan sent a public document recommending we immediately leave the country, but we have yet to decide when to leave," a medical aid worker operating in Kandahar told Yonhap News Agency by phone, requesting anonymity.

According to the Middle East Team, a Seoul-based Christian group working to help evangelical missionaries and volunteer workers abroad, seven teams had plans to leave for Afghanistan and other Islamic countries in late July, but three cancelled the planned trips and four postponed trips indefinitely in the wake of the kidnapping.

"They already finished reserving air tickets between April and May, but cancelled or indefinitely postponed their trips after learning about the Taliban's kidnapping of Koreans," said Kim Do-heon, a manager of the group. "We persuaded them to make the decision to cope with a possible recurrence of the kidnapping crisis even if they intended to stay in relatively safer regions."

Four Christian evangelical churches in Seoul and its suburbs also changed their plans to dispatch missionary and volunteer teams composed of 10 to 20 members each to such Middle East countries as Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, according religious sources.


Update: The SMEs at Small Wars Journal assure me that the actual impact by aid groups, such as the Korean missionary group, has been minor to the point of insignificance.

Eric

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