Are the Taliban ‘freedom fighters’?

Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘freedom fighter:

If ‘freedom fighter’ means ‘fighter FOR freedoms’ or ‘fighter OF freedoms’…

If the ‘freedom fighter’ is fighting so that everyone may exercise their unalienable rights equally, or fighting so that a select/elite group would be free to do impose their views on the everyone else…

You ‘get the picture’!

As for the Taliban: in which sense are they ‘freedom fighters’?

They forbid freedom of religion.

They throw acid in the faces of girls if they are not ‘subservient enough’ or want to learn to read and write.

They kill women for the crime of holding a job – or even leaving the house without male supervision.

They kill people for the sole purpose of robbing them.

Sounds to me like the Taliban are ‘fighters OF freedoms’!

Yet, for some reasons which are not quite clear – perhaps mis-applied attempt at objectivity, perhaps an expression of guild and self-loathing for having been born into one of the best, ‘safest’ human societies ever – keep suggesting that the Taliban are, in some sense, ‘freedom fighters’.

These people claim that just because the Taliban fight in a ‘different way’ than we would expect ‘proper armies’  to fight does not mean that they ought not be regarded on equal footing with our soldiers….

Aside from the offensiveness of this statement which reduces our soldiers to the level of terrorists and murderous thugs, there is an objective way to demonstrate that the ‘difference in fighting style’ is not just some ‘cultural thing’….  Because it is not!

This type of fighting – using small units which are indistinguishable from the population, then ‘malting into the crowd’ – has occurred in the past in just about every human society, in every continent, in every culture.

This is the easiest method of using the civilian population as ‘human shields’, because the other side (whether army – during war, or police forces if there is no war officialy declared) cannot defend itself without harming its own civilians into peril.  That is why this type or ‘fighting’ is universally reviled and opposed.

We don’t have to look further back than WWII:  consider the differences between the ‘partisans’ who fought against the Nazi’s in the different parts of the occupied lands.  In most Slavic countries, the partisans may have been secretly supplied by the civilian population, but they did not live among them.  To ‘join the partisans’, one had to leave the village and find the caves or temporary camps they set up in forests, away from populated areas.

Of course, they had spies and allies among the civilians, but the ‘active soldiers’ typically avoided the civilian areas so as not to endanger innocent people when the Nazis would come hunting them.  This was a conscious decision they made – at least, so I have been told by several veterans who were indeed partisans in WWII in ‘the East’.

It was a little different in France.  Yes, the French Resistance units were also supposed to stay away from the towns and villages.  But, the French resistance fighters were much more ready to hide among the civilians than the Eastern partisans.  This is why, I was told, partisans object to the term ‘partisan’ being extended to the French Resistance fighters…..

By hiding among the civilians to the degree they did, the French Resistance fighters were ‘not worthy’ of the term ‘partisan’.  So I have been told – by those who lived it and were very passionate on this subject.

This bitterness towards those who would fight in this reckless manner, who place their own safety above the safety of the civilians by using them as human shields (whether it was focused on the French Resistance or not) was quite palpable following WWII.  That is quite clear from reading the Geneva Convention!

In order to prevent, or, at least, minimize, this form of warfare, the drafters of the Geneva Convention  included very real measures.

It is precisely to ‘discourage’ this ‘Taliban-style’ form of warfare that was the goal of the Geneva Convention!

They specifically protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war.

To this end, if an active fighter is found to be hiding among the civilians (even his/her own family), under the original terms of the Geneva Conventions, such a person was specifically excluded from any protections under the convention!

In other words, the drafters of the Geneva Convention thought this behaviour to be such a high crime against humanity that they specifically excluded those who practice Taliban-style warfare from any and all protection!  In no uncertain terms, their message was that for people like that, no punishment is strong enough, no treatment is harsh enough.

Since then, there have been amendments to the Geneva Convention that extend humane treatment to  everyone – makes good sense, too – including all prisoners and detainees (even the Taliban-type fighters).

Just keep in mind:  there is a provision in the Geneva Convention that permits any member of a legitimate military, in uniform or wearing appropriate identification as such, who identifies an active combatant hiding among the civilian population to decide whether to detain the combatant – or whether to summarily execute him/her!  Right there, right then – the legitimate soldier has the right to execute a combatant hiding among the civilians.

Quite a power to give even the lowest-ranking soldier!

But, in the eyes of the people who wrote the Geneva Convention, it is just and proper:  not just as a punishment for this vile crime, but also as a deterrent.

After all – the aim of the convention clearly states that the prime purpose of it is to protect the civilians first.  And, it considers those who use civilians as human shields and endanger them by hiding among them to be the vilest, most despicable criminals who ought to be summarily executed.

Still think the Taliban can be labeled as ‘freedom fighters’?

4 Responses to “Are the Taliban ‘freedom fighters’?”

  1. letterstoadyingdream Says:

    No, no they are not “freedom fighters” they are thugs. They also use drug money to finance themselves. Although one point to the French resistance is that they were at least fighting to defend their own countrymen against the Nazis, the Taliban are fighting their own countrymen and killing them to control them. Yes they kill others too but they are killing their own people because their own people don’t agree with them.

    Xanthippa says:
    I fully agree with your assessment of the Taliban.

    The reason I raised the French Resistance was to dispel the often repeated lie that the Taliban are only fighting this way because it is a ‘cultural difference’ – something our politically correct oligarchs deem, in their ‘soft racism’ way, sacred and unassailable.

    It is not a cultural difference: it has happened in every race, in every culture, in every religion. The French Resistance example was important because such outrage followed it, international laws were written specifically to forbid it….

    So, no – the methods the Taliban are using to fight are not due to their ‘cultural differences’ – they are due to their disrespect for life, humans, human rights and common decency!

    Just like in ‘Farenheit 451’, ‘Firemen’ were people who set fire to books so people would not be able to educate themselves and think independently, the Taliban are fighting against the freedom of their fellow humans…

    Yet, all the time, you hear people saying that “they are just their culture’s freedom-fighters”…..

  2. letterstoadyingdream Says:

    Yeah I get angry when people call them Freedom Fighters too. They are scum and thugs through and through but they get a pass because they are fighting the Evil America Imperialists or something.

  3. Steynite 412nd « Free Canuckistan! Says:

    […] XANTHIPPA WONDERS– Are the Taliban ‘freedom fighters’? …. […]

  4. reilly Says:

    The reason the Taliban are often described as “freedom fighters” is actually a reference to the way american media and political figures described them in the 80s when Afghanistan was occupied by Russia. Hell, Reagan dedicated some shuttle launch to them. Then, they called themselves Mujahideen then, but they still had extreme religious ideals regarding women aswell as financing some of their weapons with drug money… the rest of the money they recieved was funded by the USA itself. Now, the USA has invaded Afghanistan and so our media and politcal figures call them “terrorists”.

    Also, sure, they aren’t the nicest crew around but at heart, they’re main concern at the moment is defending their homeland against foreign invasion and corruption of their culture. And yeah, the USA doesn’t have the nicest record in regard to treatment of third world countries. The USA is imperialist at heart.

    Xanthippa says:

    Well, almost.

    Not every Taliban is a Mujahideen and not every Mujahideen is a Taliban.

    Mujahideen is, when you get down to it, what we call a jihadist. It means nothing more and nothing less than a warrior fo Allah, involved in a holy war against the unbelievers – the jihad.

    ‘Taliban’ is a very specific name for a very specific group of people who are defined both by their geography and by their ideology. True, most Americans encountered the two terms at the same time, applied to some of the same people, but the two terms are not necessarily congruent.

    Please, have no illusion about these people simply trying to defend their home-land. They have no interest in setting up a nice, happy country: one where there is peace and where people live happily.

    The ideology of these people is warped and twisted. They have merged some rather horrible Pashtun tribal customs with militant Islamist ideology and are unable to honestly recognize the difference between the two.

    Not all of Afghanistan is traditionally Pashtun: one could easily (and truthfully) point out that the Taliban were themselves a foreign occupiers in MUCH of Afghanistan!

    Of course, there are many people who also do not really understand the difference between the Taliban and Al Qaida…..even though the two have huge contempt (both theology based and race based, as Islam teaches that the Arab race is superior to all others, which is why God selected an Arab as his best and final prophet and why the only language of God is Arabic) for each other and are extremely uneasy allies. Their doctrinal differences go very deep indeed – all the way to the first Fitna.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think the US policy has been stupid (at best). You will not find me easily defending their actions. Rather than unite them against a common enemy, they ought to have more effectively driven a wedge between the Taliban and Al Qaida forces: this would have given the regular Afghanis a fighting chance to free themselves from both of these invading forces…

    Still, we must guard that we don’t fall into the dualistic trap of thinking that in any given conflict, there has to be one ‘good’ side and one ‘bad’ side: there are hardly ever only two sides, and very often, many more than two of these are ‘bad’.

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