Arthur Saginian | The Real Tragedy of Afghanistan?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

I just finished reading Christine Flowers’ column on the tragedy of Afghanistan (Aug. 17), and it is indeed a tragedy, a tragedy that Americans ever set foot in that country in the first place or didn’t leave immediately upon realizing that Osama bin Laden wasn’t there. Ms. Flowers, are you so naïve as to quote the likes of John Donne to describe and perhaps even justify how you feel about all of the this, perhaps even urging the rest of us readers to stop being so selfish and feel the same way and for the same reason? John Donne was a 16th century English romantic love poet, probably the best who ever wrote such poetry, but a romantic love poet? 

Afghanistan, Ms. Flowers, is but just one tragedy in a long list of tragedies perpetrated by what I have come to call the “American Obsession,” which is a somewhat deranged mentality wherein we are so absolutely convinced that we have discovered the best way to live life and run a civilization that we have become equally convinced that it is our God-given right, our mission and destiny, to export it to every country in the world that has not already adopted it in one way, shape, or form. Note that said “adopted.” That means they did it internally on their own, which is the natural way that these things go, as opposed to the American way, driven by “good intentions” and implemented by military force (not to mention more locations for McDonald’s and Starbucks).

My family comes from Iran, Ms. Flowers. We were Christian minorities in a Muslim country, and it eventually got so that we left and emigrated to the United States. Iran, as I am certain you are aware, borders with Afghanistan to its south. I am also certain that you are aware of just how long these two countries, as well as most of the countries in that part of the world, have existed. They existed long before they were turned into countries by the brilliant Europeans who felt it would be a good way to control them. During their long existence they have also developed a way of life, different from ours to be sure, but it is their heritage, with their cultures and traditions, and however primitive, barbaric and abhorrent they may seem to us, it is the way they have chosen to live — it’s their land and their right to do so.

Most of the people who live there either enjoy living that way or are sufficiently used to it and comfortable with it. Those few who are different, those who are somehow “woke” or “progressive” or “enlightened” by their regional standards, either find a way out or die (or get killed) in the process of trying. That’s how life works, Ms. Flowers, and however unjust and brutal it may appear to your refined sensibilities, that is reality. It may seem as a prison to you, but it is their prison, it has been for ages, and it will continue to be so for ages, and I don’t know how many times the United States needs to get its globally nosey nose smashed before it finally comes to terms with such a concept. It makes me wonder… as Americans, are we sadistic, arrogant, or just plain stupid?

Just be glad, Ms. Flowers, that they have not got so fed up with American interventionism that they have not turned the tables and invaded our country to make us more like them because they are absolutely convinced that they have discovered the best way to live life and run a civilization. They vastly outnumber us. 

So don’t be so sad, Ms. Flowers. Be glad.

Arthur Saginian

Santa Clarita

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