Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Post No. 146c: Article of Interest: In Bold Move, Taliban Order Stoning Deaths

We have often noted that, "There are more than 2 or 3 ways to view any issue; there are at least 27 TM."

The following article appeared in the August 16, 2010 electronic edition of the New York Times. We would be curious as to your take on the order and whether those of us in the US should say or do anything? Do we have a dog in the fight?

Interestingly, the Taliban provide many social infrastructure functions in many societies which their local governments or even outside international agencies do not. Should the purported "good" they provide outweigh the purported "bad?"

The New York Times

by Rod Nordland

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban on Sunday ordered their first public executions by stoning since their fall from power nine years ago, killing a young couple who had eloped....

To view the remainder of the article, click here.


  1. What amazes me is not that they, the Taliban, do such things but that that they find so many supporters. There have been brutal regimes and movements throughout history, they do not exist without a significant amount of support.

    What makes such brutality attractive to those they end up brutalizing? Is there a clue to the "battered spouse" syndrome to be found there?

  2. While I do think that anybody and every Government that opposes stoning should protest, I also realize that any form of protest will not stop the Taliban from continuing what they are doing. That works for Iran, but not the Taliban. In my view this stoning is more or less deliberate, just like most of the killings of civilians by the Taliban. They want to provoke and create outrage, possibly compel the coalition forces to withdraw from their homeland. I do not know, but think that the only way to bring a reasonable amount of peace to Afghanistan and lessen the acts of terrorism is to negotiate with the Taliban and the withdrawal of the foreign forces.


    The supporters of the Taliban do not have exactly a lot of opportunities to do something else. Also, if defection means torture, maiming, murder and eternal damnation they more than likely think twice about defection and rather support the Taliban. I do not think that the brutality can be related to the "battered spouse syndrome" but it rather shows how easy it is for good people to do bad things. There are studies/experiments which might explain that group pressure & the tendency to conform do play a big role in this violence, such as:

    "Asch Paradigm"

    "Hofling hospital" experiment

    "Milgram experiment"

  3. I agree, wsteffie, the dynamics are complex and difficult to comprehend. A regime like the Taliban provides a certain security, just as all brutal regimes do. They keep the streets clear of crime (relatively speaking), provide subsistence and jobs, and social stability. But the price seems awful to those of us in more free societies. I brought up the "battered spouse" syndrome because the same applies. The abuser, though cruel, provides sustenance, security, and stability most of the time. But the abuser also reinforces his/her control through fear and intimidation which may come at any time. The abused spouse fears the abuser but remains loyal at the same time. Ask any cop who has intervened in a domestic dispute.

    But I am simplifying the dynamic, of course.

  4. Thanks much Douglas for your comments. In an earlier piece regarding the Taliban, we referenced a comment made by one of their "subjects." He said that they brought "order" to a chaotic region.

    We would imagine that in some instances and in the minds of many people, "order" is better than a constant state of uncertainty and chaos.

  5. Wsteffie, thanks for hanging in here with us. We look forward to your comments on other issues in the future.

    Several things re the conduct of the Taliban:

    (1) We suspect that at some level, their conduct is "effective" or "works."

    (2) When one examines some of the original writings and comments of the individual who is regarded as the founder of the Islamist extremist movement in the 1950s - 1960s, a key complaint was the intrusion of western values and "forces" into the Islamic world, on multiple levels.

    (3) Those of us in the western world (currently alive) will probably never understand, and that may be the big problem. Someone once said that when you are unable to formulate a solution, then you do not have a problem.

  6. Someone once said that when you are unable to formulate a solution, then you do not have a problem.

    I would re-phrase that to "then you do not yet realize you have a problem."

  7. Thank you so much Douglas, for simplifying, makes it easier for me to understand. The Taliban certainly provide some level of security and what they're doing seems to work for a large group of the population. Knowing that, is one of the reasons why I am against the war. It also helps me to appreciate the fact that I am fortunate to live in a democratic country. Since I only focused on the brutality of the act of stoning, I did not see the relation of the "battered spouse" syndrome. It makes sense now. Having made the mistake of choosing someone verbally abusive as a husband once, I can actually relate to fear and apathy.

    Inspector Clouseau, there is no need to thank me. Your blog is by far too thought-provoking to pass up. I'm thankful to you as well as Douglas for taking the time to read through my "broken English" and on top respond. I can only learn things here.:-)

    Back to the Taliban, I'm just assuming that you are referring to Qutb, who basically reinterpreted jihad as well as divided the world into two camps (Islam/God and the western world/Satan). While I can understand some of his reasoning (e.g.: the western intrusion), I can never understand the reinterpretation of jihad into something that justifies violence. Then again, I have to admit that I have similar problems with other religious texts.

    "Someone once said that when you are unable to formulate a solution, then you do not have a problem.

    I would re-phrase that to "then you do not yet realize you have a problem."

    I see another possibility: "when you are unwilling to formulate a solution, then you do not have a problem"


"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™