Taliban to ban polio vaccines for their own kids unless US stops drone attacks

Posted on by TheLastPsychiatrist and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

 

I’m still supposed to hate you?

Taliban commander:

“Almost every resident of North Waziristan has become a mental patient because of the drone strikes, which are worse than polio. On one hand, the U.S. spends millions of dollars to eliminate polio, while on the other hand it kills hundreds…”

Three ways to play:

1. This is a story for Americans: “the Taliban are baby-hating scum.”

2. The Taliban thinks vaccines are a Western conspiracy to spy/cause impotence.

3. The Taliban is sending a message to the rest of the world, that is impossible for Americans to hear.

The US will rightfully ignore this threat, but– how?  The answer is that the US knows those kids  have nothing to do with the war, the Taliban is bringing them in to enlarge the scope of the war.  But this is the Taliban’s point: the US “knows” this only because the US always gets to decide what’s part of the war and what isn’t.

The Taliban is attacking that US power to decide the scope/casualties/meaning of war.  So the Taliban retells the story: war isn’t an event, it is an entire reality which contains all other things.  These are all war casualties.  And you’re the enemy.

Similarly, Americans “know” that vaccinations are not a CIA plot because we trust American policymakers when they say that it isn’t.  But why should they trust this?

To believe that their enemy also has good intentions would be to subvert their own position– and in total war, they will sacrifice anything to support belief. 

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6 Responses to Taliban to ban polio vaccines for their own kids unless US stops drone attacks

  1. Gabe Ruth says:

    Regardless of the intended message, we don’t need to pay any attention to that guy. He thinks Pakistani sovereignty is still a thing.

    “To believe that their enemy also has good intentions would be to subvert their own position– and in total war, they will sacrifice anything to support belief.”

    I’m not completely sure what you’re saying here. The quote doesn’t indicate that they are suspicious of the vaccine program, regardless of whether that would be reasonable or not. They want Americans to widen their perspective, and to take away a feel good thing they (Americans) like to point to when contemplating their own goodness. This is similar to suicide bombing in some ways (though with much less certain and immediate negative consequences). It also reminds me of some anti-abortion people who refuse the MMR vaccine for their children because it was developed using cells from an aborted child (though there is much less actual danger in that situation than refusing a polio vaccine in Waziristan).

  2. barrkel says:

    The US made vaccines a war issue when they used that as cover for finding bin Laden – http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/07/bin-laden-vaccine . So yes, vaccines are sometimes a CIA plot, and everybody knows this.

    Your writing isn’t clear, BTW. It’s not obvious which “they” you mean when you write this:

    “To believe that their enemy also has good intentions would be to subvert their own position– and in total war, they will sacrifice anything to support belief.”

    I think this statement could be made equally of US and Taliban leadership.

  3. Guy Fox says:

    While it may be true that this is the discursive side of the GWOT, where the sides are fighting over the signified of ‘GWOT’, there’s also a more transparent, strictly tactical motive. Even if the Taliban could shoot drones down, which they can’t really, the US can make more drones/buy components from Taiwan faster than the Taliban could shoot them down. You won’t bring Rupert Murdoch down by pickpocketing the $500 he has in his wallet, and his wallet is behind half a dozen former rugby players with bulges in their suits. So the Taliban needs to make everyone play by their rules on their chosen ground. You find the bombs in underpants and printer cartridges? Fine, we’ll lure you here to fight us where we’re equal. So the kids get used not so much as human shields, but as bait. Tactically speaking, it’s exactly like when the villain captures the hero’s bikini-clad wonder (or kids) in order to lure the hero into the underground lair full of piranhas and henchmen.

    But it’s not going to work. The Taliban has misinterpreted the combination of combat and building schools and harping about rights. They reckon that we (I know, but let’s take some responsibility) are fighting so that we can build schools and harp about rights. That’s backwards. The schools and rights are not the reason for the fighting, they’re only the alibi. We show that we care so that we can take vengeance. It’s the teddy bear/video game to make the beatings easier for the beatee and the beater. The Taliban is calling our moral bluff, but we’ve got nothing but low, non-sequential clubs. We’re not Bond and they’re not Blofeld. We’re the middle-aged middle manager with a chip on his shoulder, and they’re the snotty teenaged trainee defacing the stockroom. It’ll be a blow to everyone’s ego when they find out that we don’t care, so long as we get to hand out punishments and enforce ‘company policy’. Pity those who contract polio. They will suffer for our vanity.

    • CubaLibre says:

      But that’s precisely why it will work. The point of the tactic is not to guilt Americans, who are incapable of guilt. Rather it is to reveal the hypocrisy you describe to America’s allies, who will then shame Americans – their deepest fear – into getting the hell out of Afghanistan, which is the Taliban’s ultimate goal.

  4. Marner says:

    4) There is a syntaxis/parataxic distortion, in which both parties are able to redefine not only the other, but themselves. What’s interesting is that this is not an attempt to push away, but to draw in. The threat of societal masochism is not “foggy thinking”. It is an attempt to elicit sympathy.

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