• Athena
    1.6k
    Let me begin with, in the US we are very poorly informed about Islam, Afghanistan, and all the players involved with the US exit from Afghanistan.

    I am left with the impression that the Taliban and ISIS are primitive people lacking in the ability to manage a modern city, let alone a whole nation. On the other hand, Islam/Muslims were the most advanced people on earth in the 9th and 14th centuries. They had the best bureaucratic order and most advanced economic concepts.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Islamic_economics

    I am hoping people who are better informed than I am, reply to my question of the chances of any Islamic group turning Afghanistan into a successful nation. Why was Islam so successful in the past and why might it be hard for the Taliban or ISIS to bring Afghanistan to success today?
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    I'm not expert either, but I think Islam is not the culprit. Tribalism, mafioso, paternal BS is the problem. It's not even "nationalism" exactly, although I do think they take some pride in the old saying that there are where empires go to die. They just have never experienced total war. So long as their "enemies" refrain from total war, they can continue to live in their world.
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    I am left with the impression that the Taliban and ISIS are primitive people lacking in the ability to manage a modern city, let alone a whole nation.Athena
    From a historical perspective, the Taliban and ISIS are comparable to the "primitive" tribal barbarians, who sacked Rome, bringing an end to a world-wide military empire, but releasing & spreading the energy of a new world-dominating Imperial religion. At the time (circa 410 to 455 AD) the Vandals (etc) were disorganized & uncivilized, but fierce & hungry & bloodthirsty.

    Centuries later, many of us on this presumably modern & civilized forum are descendants of those uncouth barbarians, So, there is room for hope that Afghanistan can recover from decades of being squeezed between the rock of dug-in defensive intolerant Islamic tradition, and the driving force of forward-leaning & aggressive Western Capitalism. Yet, it remains to be seen, if this sacking of a remote outpost of capitalist imperialism, will be followed by an adaptation of money-driven Western notions of civilization, or by a resurgence of the Islamic brand of sword-won colonialism. Or, perhaps to a re-flowering of the Golden Age of Islamic philosophy. :smile:
  • James Riley
    1.7k
    Or, perhaps to a re-flowering of the Golden Age of Islamic philosophy. :smile:Gnomon

    Wouldn't that be nice!
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    They had the best bureaucratic order and most advanced economic concepts.Athena

    It did not happen out of the blue though. It was all borrowed from the Greeks, Persians, and others. And there was a gradual transition (and learning) phase.

    When Muslim Arabs conquered Christian countries like Syria, Egypt, etc., that had been part of the Byzantine Empire, they took over the entire administrative apparatus sometimes complete with Christian officials.

    The same applies to architects, scientists, philosophers, artists, military leaders, etc. They did not disappear, they simply adopted Arab names and language and carried on as normal until they were gradually replaced with Muslims.
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    Why was Islam so successful in the past and why might it be hard for the Taliban or ISIS to bring Afghanistan to success today?Athena

    Islam was successful in the past because it celebrated diversity and pluralism. It practiced religious tolerance. The fundamentalist groups you are talking about are at war with modernism and pluralism and are essentially a savage pietistic reform movement. People keep saying Islam needs a reformation. The problem is Islamic State may be what a reformation in Islam looks like. Stephen Schwartz wrote an interesting book on the nature of Islam's struggle with fundamentalism called the Two Faces of Islam back in 2002. Irshad Manji ( a gay, Canadian Islamic woman) wrote an equally interesting book on the nature of contemporary Islamic intolerance called The Trouble with Islam. It's hard to imagine a successful state emerging from a foundation of captious hatred, but anything is possible.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    Islam was successful in the past because it celebrated diversity and pluralism.Tom Storm

    Correct. They were forced to be tolerant. Arab culture was inadequate to support an empire and dominate the more advanced cultures of the conquered territories. The only medical system was that of the Greeks. The only philosophy going was Plato and Aristotle ....

    This is why Muslim rulers initiated the Translation Movement that had hundreds of Greek and other texts translated into Arabic from the 700’s onward.

    Graeco-Arabic translation movement - Wikipedia

    Unfortunately, this did not last. Islamic and Arab culture could not compete with the cultures of Greece, Persia, and India, and turned against "foreign sciences" that were perceived as undermining Islam. It didn't take long for the West to catch up and it all went downhill after that.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    In the fourth century AD, the Roman Empire was divided into East and West. Thereafter, the Greek-controlled Eastern part carried on for a thousand years, whilst the Western part was taken over by Germanic tribes who forged a new Europe:

    The Alemanni and Burgundians in Germany, the Franks in France, the Angles and Saxons in England, the Vandals and Visigoths in Spain and North Africa, the Lombards in Italy, the Bavarians in Austria, etc., etc.

    It was the Franks who stopped the Muslim Arabs from invading France via Spain. Norman and Frankish warriors fought with the Greeks against Arabs and Turks. And it was the Vandal and Visigoth kingdoms of North Spain that started the anti-Islamic resistance in that country.

    The Greeks were finally beaten by the Muslim Turks in 1453. But when Austrian Franks and Bavarians together with their Polish and Lithuanian allies stopped the Turks outside Vienna in 1683, putting an end to Islamic supremacy, Germans still headed the Holy Roman Empire of the West.

    Napoleon brought an end to Old Europe by putting liberalism and money in charge. He was then beaten by the British, and the rest is history.

    As for Islam, whatever power it may have today is based on oil. But oil is no substitute for history and culture. And Islam does not seem to be a force for progress ....
  • ssu
    4.5k
    I am hoping people who are better informed than I am, reply to my question of the chances of any Islamic group turning Afghanistan into a successful nation.Athena
    When it comes to Afghanistan, you should start by defining what success would be.

    Yet basically Saudi-Arabia has it's legal system based on Sharia law and uniquely in the Muslim world, Sharia has been adopted by Saudi Arabia in an uncodified form. So basically yes, an Islamic group could theoretically turn the country into a successful nation. Saudi-Arabia has been run for a long time by Islamists. Then there's Iran as the other example.

    (Saudi universities at least have money...even if there is sharia law.)
    Biosciences.jpg

    In realistic terms, this is extremely unlikely. Several reasons:

    - The multitude of internal problems Afghanistan suffers from (that are too lengthy for this answer).
    - That the West is totally against Taliban rule and will see the Emirate of Afghanistan as a "terrorist haven".
    - That Pakistan basically wants to have a weak controllable Afghanistan. It's basic worries are that a) India might get a foothold in Afghanistan and have close relations with it and b) the Pashtuns, living on both sides of the Durand-line will create problems for Pakistan as there have been skirmishes all the time at the border and the Tribal areas of Pakistan (see here).
    - The West has basically confiscated the foreign reserves of the country and the Emirate will see likely immediate economic problems. The banking sector has been already shut down.
    - The Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban) is already burdened with a huge former Afghan government, which the country has no ability to pay for. This is the reason for the collapse of the Afghan government, basically similar happened with the pro-Soviet Najibullah regime.
    - There is one of the biggest brain drains in anywhere in the World in Afghanistan as doctors and engineers are trying to leave the country. Not a promising start for a future "success".
    - Joe Biden has reverted back to the old way of simply using drone strikes to fight "the Global War on Terror" already. It's quite likely that the attacks against ISIS-K aren't the last ones.

    And finally, it's usually that the most radical, most fanatic elements of a group take power or have a far bigger role than the so-called "moderates". So back to home for women in Afghanistan, which will severely hamper the economic prospects of the country.
  • Prishon
    984
    Wasnt it the US supplying the Mudjahedin with shoulder worn rocket emitters including a dose of rockets? Laying the seeds of the 9/11 attacks?
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    All I know is this: The Gynecologist dilemma for Taliban.

    Either the Taliban must educate its women or the Taliban must allow men doctors to examine women patients.

    The mullahs will never solve this dilemma. :rofl:
  • Gnomon
    1.6k
    Islam was successful in the past because it celebrated diversity and pluralism. It practiced religious tolerance. The fundamentalist groups you are talking about are at war with modernism and pluralism and are essentially a savage pietistic reform movement. People keep saying Islam needs a reformation. The problem is Islamic State may be what a reformation in Islam looks like. Stephen Schwartz wrote an interesting book on the nature of Islam's struggle with fundamentalism called the Two Faces of Islam back in 2002. Irshad Manji ( a gay, Canadian Islamic woman) wrote an equally interesting book on the nature of contemporary Islamic intolerance called The Trouble with Islam. It's hard to imagine a successful state emerging from a foundation of captious hatred, but anything is possible.Tom Storm
    Ironically. the biggest obstacle to the Taliban, in attempting to establish an orderly Islamic state in Afghanistan, is internal tensions. According to news reports, ISIS may be their biggest revolutionary competition. And ISIS seems to as opposed to Taliban apostates as to American infidels.

    During the 16th century Reformation era. the Roman Church was internally divided, and savagely intolerant of tolerance. To wit : the Inquisition, burning fellow Christians at the stake. Since then, it has continued to fragment from a world-dominating religious empire, to just another burned-out core of its former glory, with ornate church buildings turned into nightclubs.

    In the same sense, history repeats itself again. And Islam seems to be undergoing its own earthquake Reformation, beginning with Sunni versus Shiite, then on down to smaller sects. Maybe that's just as well --- better for them to fight among themselves than to re-conquer the whole world in the name of a long-dead prophet. Maybe diversity and pluralism will likewise re-arise from the blood & ashes, like the Phoenix. :cool:


    Afghanistan crisis: What makes Islamic State-Khorasan enemy of Taliban
    https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/afghanistan-taliban-islamic-state-crisis-1847109-2021-08-30
  • Tom Storm
    2k
    Ironically. the biggest obstacle to the Taliban, in attempting to establish an orderly Islamic state in Afghanistan, is internal tensions. According to news reports, ISIS may be their biggest revolutionary competition. And ISIS seems to as opposed to Taliban apostates as to American infidels.Gnomon

    Not really surprising and old news. The schism between the isms is a reoccurring problem with competing fundamentalists.

    --- better for them to fight among themselves than to re-conquer the whole world in the name of a long-dead prophet.Gnomon

    :up:
  • James Riley
    1.7k


    :100: :up:

    then on down to smaller sects.Gnomon

    A long time ago I read an intel paper written by Scott Ritter. It was about the complexities of the situation in Iraq, specifically, and the region, generally. It went so much deeper than the Shiite/Sunni divide that I was ashamed of our fourth estate and the way it was simplifying everything for (what it perceived as it's stupid?) audience consumption. I guess I should not have been surprised since I used to thrive on such analysis, and I remember the White Papers and what not, but I guess that when I left off of such things I assumed there was at least a third grader at the gate.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    From a historical perspective, the Taliban and ISIS are comparable to the "primitive" tribal barbarians, who sacked Rome, bringing an end to a world-wide military empire, but releasing & spreading the energy of a new world-dominating Imperial religion. At the time (circa 410 to 455 AD) the Vandals (etc) were disorganized & uncivilized, but fierce & hungry & bloodthirsty.

    Centuries later, many of us on this presumably modern & civilized forum are descendants of those uncouth barbarians, So, there is room for hope that Afghanistan can recover from decades of being squeezed between the rock of dug-in defensive intolerant Islamic tradition, and the driving force of forward-leaning & aggressive Western Capitalism. Yet, it remains to be seen, if this sacking of a remote outpost of capitalist imperialism, will be followed by an adaptation of money-driven Western notions of civilization, or by a resurgence of the Islamic brand of sword-won colonialism. Or, perhaps to a re-flowering of the Golden Age of Islamic philosophy. :smile:
    Gnomon

    I totally love a historical perspective. If Islam regains its glory, I do think that will happen in Afghanistan because they are not coming from a civilization. Nomadic people do not develope civilizations. It is city living that develops civilization but as you said, those civilizations can fall.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    It did not happen out of the blue though. It was all borrowed from the Greeks, Persians, and others. And there was a gradual transition (and learning) phase.

    When Muslim Arabs conquered Christian countries like Syria, Egypt, etc., that had been part of the Byzantine Empire, they took over the entire administrative apparatus sometimes complete with Christian officials.

    The same applies to architects, scientists, philosophers, artists, military leaders, etc. They did not disappear, they simply adopted Arab names and language and carried on as normal until they were gradually replaced with Muslims.
    Apollodorus

    Absolutely, what they developed did not come out of the blue, and that is why I do not expect Afghanistan Muslims to do well. I think you hit upon something. Back in the day, they were looking forward and were willing to adopt what they could learn from others. But I think the Taliban and ISIS are looking backwards, and therefore it will not succeed. This time the Taliban pushed away the people who could have helped them move forward.

    I think some of them are capable of being good leaders, but their followers value violence and will not become "weak city people". It is like being a gang leader. I am thinking of Weber here and the different kinds of leadership. A gang leader can not betray the gang by not being one of them. They invaded with brutal men who do not know it is not okay to rape and brutalize females and so they had to tell the women what they must do for their own safety. I don't think this will be an easy transition to acting like civilized people.

    I think it is exactly because of this brutal male instinct that the Koran speaks of protecting women and treating them well. Unfortunately, it takes more than a holy book to civilize people.

    "New Human Rights Watch research shows that the Taliban have been training and deploying children for various military operations including the production and planting of improvised explosive devices (IED). In Kunduz province, the Taliban have increasingly used madrasas, or Islamic religious schools, to provide military training to children between the ages of 13 and 17, many of whom have been deployed in combat." This is a problem for a civilization with females. Age matters and the age of these fighters is not apt to lead to civilized behavior.
  • Athena
    1.6k
    slam was successful in the past because it celebrated diversity and pluralism. It practiced religious tolerance. The fundamentalist groups you are talking about are at war with modernism and pluralism and are essentially a savage pietistic reform movement. People keep saying Islam needs a reformation. The problem is Islamic State may be what a reformation in Islam looks like. Stephen Schwartz wrote an interesting book on the nature of Islam's struggle with fundamentalism called the Two Faces of Islam back in 2002. Irshad Manji ( a gay, Canadian Islamic woman) wrote an equally interesting book on the nature of contemporary Islamic intolerance called The Trouble with Islam. It's hard to imagine a successful state emerging from a foundation of captious hatred, but anything is possible.Tom Storm

    That appears to be a well-informed answer. I am impressed. I am also uneasy because the US seems to be experiencing the same intolerance.

    War is good for religion and religion is good for war.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    why might it be hard for the Taliban or ISIS to bring Afghanistan to success today?Athena

    As far as the Taliban are concerned, that the invading NATO armies are out of the country is already a success. And for a majority of Afghans, it's a big relief. Foreign troops were consistently reported as the biggest danger for Afghans in annual polls of the Asia Foundation.

    Now of course, the hard part is to govern this country. For that to happen, they will need to keep the movement together, defang ISIS, and find some agreement with non-Taliban forces. My money is on anarchy instead, but you never know.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Correct. They were forced to be tolerant. Arab culture was inadequate to support an empire and dominate the more advanced cultures of the conquered territories. The only medical system was that of the Greeks. The only philosophy going was Plato and Aristotle ....Apollodorus

    That is way too dismissive of the early Muslim genius. The early Muslim conquerors were committed to science, equality between races, and freedom of thought (within limits), contrary to a lot of the polities they overthrew. That is why the Muslim conquest happened so rapidly: the people like liberators.
  • ssu
    4.5k
    Arab culture was inadequate to support an empire and dominate the more advanced cultures of the conquered territories. The only medical system was that of the Greeks. The only philosophy going was Plato and AristotleApollodorus

    That is way too dismissive of the early Muslim genius.Olivier5
    Or too dismissive of the prevailing culture in what just earlier had been part of the Roman Empire or the Sassanid Empire. Besides, this was many centuries later that Hellenism, thanks to Alexander the Great, had already influenced the area, so I assume Plato and Aristotle were quite well known already.

    And let's not forget that the West re-learned it's philosophy and math basically from the muslims. The Dark Ages were quite dark, you know.
  • Tzeentch
    1.2k
    The rise of radicalism was sparked by global powers like the US, Russia, China, etc. to influence the region.

    These global powers could send money and arms to the factions they want to see in power, however civilized people are unlikely to go to war simply because a large nation wants them to.

    Religious extremism was the spark that was needed for people to take up arms.

    As to why: natural resources, military industrial complex, Israeli geopolitics, to name a few.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    Back in the day, they were looking forward and were willing to adopt what they could learn from others. But I think the Taliban and ISIS are looking backwards, and therefore it will not succeed. This time the Taliban pushed away the people who could have helped them move forward.Athena

    They were willing to learn from others primarily because they lacked the knowledge the others possessed and that the Muslims needed to control the conquered territories. They learned how to run an empire from those who already had an empire, i.e., the Greeks, etc.

    Of course the Taliban and ISIS are looking backwards, but this is true of Islam in general. In fact, Islam started as a movement of return to the past. This is why the Christians called them Ishmaelites. Muslims thought that Judaism and Christianity were distortions of Abraham and Moses' original teachings and that Islam, as transmitted through Abraham's son Ishmael was the true religion.

    So, it may be said that, by definition, Islam was (and is) a backward-looking religion.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    And let's not forget that the West re-learned it's philosophy and math basically from the muslims. The Dark Ages were quite dark, you know.ssu

    I'm assuming that by "the West" you mean Western Europe. I agree that the Dark Ages were possibly quite dark in Finland and some other parts of Western Europe.

    In contrast, the parts of Eastern Europe under Greek control (Eastern Roman Empire) had no need to re-learn philosophy from the Arabs. On the contrary, it was the Arabs who learned from the Greeks and transmitted some of that knowledge to Western Europe!
  • ssu
    4.5k
    In contrast, the parts of Eastern Europe under Greek control (Eastern Roman Empire) had no need to re-learn philosophy from the Arabs. On the contrary, it was the Arabs who learned from the Greeks and transmitted some of that knowledge to Western Europe!Apollodorus
    That is true, but by "the West" people typically forget (or ignore) East Rome.

    My point is that the populations that the Muslims conquered likely knew the philosophy too. And just like noted, muslims quickly noted the importance of knowledge and philosophy. Unfortunately that "renaissance", if you can call it so, didn't last for much time.

    Yet coming back to the subject, I'm really not very optimistic of how the Emirate of Afghanistan will succeed. Far too much of radical islam is against everything considered Western. And Western philosophy goes with it too.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    I'm really not very optimistic of how the Emirate of Afghanistan will succeed.ssu

    As someone noted already, this depends on how you define success. If their goal is to maintain age-old traditions unaffected by foreign influences, they might do well.
  • ssu
    4.5k
    If we forget Afghanistan, just like we forgot Vietnam, that would be success. No news is good news. Because that "no news" means that the US won't do drone strikes into Afghanistan.

    I think now success would be defined simply as peace: no bombs going off, war going on in some part of the country. The first obstacle is how the Emirate deals with Panshjir valley. And if other places become Panshjir valley, that would be a bad start. Likely life will be harder in Kabul. The economy will surely be worse.

    It's easy to be an insurgent as you can pick your fights. Far more difficult to be the authority. At least now the Taliban is starting from a far better position than it was during the mid 1990's. It's up to them how they manage the situation.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    I agree entirely.

    ISIS is a common enemy of the US and Taliban. I expect some collaboration on this front at least. The CIA and co. are pragmatic folks, they speak with whom they need to speak.

    What struck me years ago working there, was how puerile their political speech was; how manichean and crude (not unlike some MAGA-capped evangelicals mind you). They were seeing heros and vilains, where I was seeing just one big and raw power struggle. Alliances were temporary and fluid, frequently between past enemies. Of course foreigners have the luxury of not taking side, so there's that too: Afghans are part of the problem and part of any possible solution, in ways that foreigners will never care enough to be. It's their soddin' country after all.

    Maybe they're better this time around... In my culture we have a warning against "insulting the future". Anything is possible, and this country has always defied prediction. Perfect peace is not achievable, there's always one jang somewhere or another in Afghanistan. But if the main cities / populated areas could be at peace, that would mean a lot.

    Now the T. have no access to international banking. That should be a big deal for any government, even them. Alternatives exist of course, but costly. They will have to behave, at least nominally, in order to gain access. Or they will fail as a modern state.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    That is why the Muslim conquest happened so rapidly: the people like liberators.Olivier5

    I think the Muslim conquest happened because constant wars had left the Byzantine and Persian empires weakened.

    And the notion that the populations conquered by Muslim Arabs felt “liberated” seems doubtful to say the least. The Spanish definitely did not feel liberated and the same applies to North African and Mid Eastern populations.

    Resistance to Muslim occupation was in fact very common and ranged from passive non-cooperation and flight to sabotage and armed uprisings. In Egypt, which had a Christian-majority population for several centuries after the Muslim conquest, there were at least nine Christian uprisings between 694 and 832 alone:

    Bashmurian revolts - Wikipedia
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    It's complicated alright. But there's no reason to systematically dismiss the Arabs. It was once a great civilization, until the sack of Baghdad at the very soonest, they were the smartest guys around.
  • Apollodorus
    2.5k
    It's complicated alright. But there's no reason to systematically dismiss the Arabs. It was once a great civilization, until the sack of Baghdad at the very soonest, they were the smartest guys around.Olivier5

    Well, I don't think it's a matter of "dismissing the Arabs". More like asserting historical fact.

    The very concept of Arabs being "a great civilization" is doubtful - unless you take the typical American approach of calling everyone in the region "Arabs". When I ask Arabs which Arab country they think comes top in terms of history, culture, civilization, and language, they immediately say Egypt or Syria with Saudi Arabia always getting a thumbs down.

    There is a very good historical reason for this. Egypt and Syria had great civilizations of their own and later came under Persian, Greek, Roman, and Christian-Hellenistic rule before being invaded and conquered by Arabs. In contrast, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, had nothing. This is precisely why Muslim Arabs were forced to adopt other cultures in order to control the new territories they conquered.

    The resulting "great civilization" that brought together Greek, Persian, Indian, and other cultural elements under Islamic rule was at most "Islamic" but not Arab.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    More like asserting historical fact.

    The very concept of Arabs being "a great civilization" is doubtful
    Apollodorus

    That is what I am talking about: a dismissive, almost racist attitude towards them. It's very common in some corners of the 'west', unfortunately.
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