Last month, Cal State East Bay lecturer Dr. Farid Younos presented a new strategy for demilitarization and stability in Afghanistan to The United States House of Representatives to present a new outlook on the conundrum some are calling America’s new Vietnam.
The plan, “A Roadmap to Peace in Afghanistan: Cross-Cultural Leadership and Conflict Resolution,” sponsored by Congressman Denis Kucinich, calls for rapid demilitarization and the implementation of S.E.E.: security, economy, and education.
Younos, who is a native of Afghanistan, has long been an influential member of the Bay Area’s Afghan-American community. At the core of his argument lies the belief that U.S. strategy in the region has been structured by fundamental misunderstandings.
Islamic culture and customs are based on the 1,400 years of social evolution that has transpired since the Prophet Muhammad’s divine revelations were transcribed into the Quran. Unlike the Christian Bible, The Quran dictates the rules of the entire collective society as well as the individuals within that society. Therefore, any form of government established in Afghanistan must be based on the strict interpretation of Islamic law.
This does not mean that the country’s future will be controlled an oppressive regime like the Taliban. Younos believes that conservative Islam can be reconciled with individual liberties. He calls for an, “Islamic agenda based on modern expectations,” which includes modern education and women’s rights.
In his book “Gender Equality in Islma,” Younos writes, “the Taliban under the name of Islam banned women from working and from receiving an education… “hese problems stemmed from the oppressive Taliban regime that did not have a broad perspective of Islamic civilization and culture… In tawhid there is no duality, no discrimination, no superiority, and no inferiority…After that period [of Muhammad and early Islam], the Islamic system has become biased in regards to social equality between men and women…these interpretations are not the work of the Prophet but men of knowledge who did not have the divine revelations.”
The U.S.-led coalition’s reliance on military strength to implement its political agenda on the people of Afghanistan has lead to what Younos calls an “unwinnable” war. Therefore, America needs to rethink its unwavering support of current Afghan President Hamid Karzai who epitomizes the “Western style democracy” which will not, according to Younos, survive the inevitably withdrawal of the foreign occupation.
The “Roadmap to Peace in Afghanistan” calls for the U.S. to support things that will then outlast its troop presence in Afghanistan.
“Instead of investing on military,” Younos said in an interview conducted by KCBS News on July 28, “Afghans should invest in education and economy.”
Once Afghanistan has been stabilized it will be able to demilitarize. Therefore, security will come from education and a strengthened economy, not the military.
All the billions of dollars and thousands of human lives invested in Afghanistan will be in vain if the country descends into economic collapse. Younos sights post World War II Europe as a past example of successful foreign diplomacy which can be applied to Afghanistan. In the late 1940s, the U.S. funneled tens of billions of dollars via the Marshall Plan into European nations such as Western Germany and Greece that were in danger of being overrun by communism. It was dollars spent instead of shots fired which proved to be the best weapon against a common enemy.
Dr. Younos envisions a peaceful Afghanistan which does not need to compromise its Islamic conservatism to achieve security and prosperity. Security will come in the absence of militarism and prosperity will come once Afghans are allowed to reconcile their own identity with the 21st century.