Sunday, March 18, 2012

Afghans will seek revenge and they will have it

Excerpt from
The Panjwai 16
The murders in Afghanistan were all too predictable

Michael Yon, a former Green Beret, blogs at
The 16 murder victims, including women and small children, are Pashtun. Pashtuns live by a code called Pashtunwali, which they take as seriously as the Koran. Pashtunwali includes “nanawatai” (asylum), “badal” (justice/revenge), “tureh” (bravery, specifically protecting women, children and property) and “namus” (honor of women).

Pashtunwali commitment to “badal” makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like a schoolyard fight. Nor is this just a Pashtun thing. There is an annual bloodfest between the Hazaras and Kuchis. That feud should be cranking up again with spring.

Afghan feuds are famously persistent. Badal carries through the generations like DNA. A grandson not born today might take revenge for events decades before his birth. He may kill someone who also was not born at that time.

Panjwai district, the scene of the crime, had been one of the most dangerous districts in Afghanistan. Panjwai saw major battles involving Canadian, U.S., U.K., Dutch and Afghan forces. Many hundreds of enemy were estimated killed, and we took substantial casualties.

Progress was happening there. In early 2011, I drove there from Kandahar city without the military. The mood of the locals was tense. The journey was unsafe, but the fact that we entered what had previously been a Taliban-owned district, and returned safely, was demonstrative.

Yet in one furious night of murder, a single U.S. soldier (apparently) has wiped Panjwai progress off the map.

Karzai is Pashtun. He said, “This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians, and cannot be forgiven.”

Afghans will seek revenge and they will have it. This will lead to yet greater possibilities of another mass murder from our side. We are considering holding the trial in Afghanistan. Pashtuns don’t care about our justice system. They don’t even care about the Afghan government; they want blood for blood. We are being drawn into a feud.

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