What do you know about Pashtunwali?

I am a Pashtun
I lived with the Pashtun
Took a course on the Pashtun
What is on the Internet
Little
Nothing
jamming on August 28, 2009, 04:24:36 pm
Pashtunwali like many systems of honor or culture can be used for good or bad.  Many women from a western culture would find it not as oppressive as Saudi Arabia.  However, having lived among the Pashtun in areas of Afghanistan, there can be no nicer people if you respect their pride and culture.  No quicker enemy if you threaten their culture and beliefs.  Hope to heck that the elders never have to consider a misstep made by an outsider, justice doesn't wait after it has been decided.  However blood feuds are common.  It is not a perfect culture, it has its problems but also its admirable qualities.

Rocketman on August 28, 2009, 10:49:19 pm
I used to get Soldier of Fortune back when the Soviet Union was getting the messy end of the stick in Afghanistan and read about what the American war correspondents thought of them.  Almost suicidally brave and honest to a fault, they would make either a very good friends or a very bad enemies depending on your intentions.  If the U.S. military is smart they will remember what happened to the British there about a hundred and twenty years ago and get on the good side of them.  :)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2009, 10:51:00 pm by Rocketman »

Sean Roach on August 28, 2009, 11:18:32 pm
I read up on it in Wikipedia.  What I read sounded like nice neighbors to have.
The US needs to not just GET on their good side, but STAY on their good side, in my opinion.
Something we've never been good at.

jrl on August 29, 2009, 12:13:06 pm
I've only read a couple internet articles which made them sound a lot like some Ozark or Appalachian folks, if in a more codified way. Hill country Americans have pretty much given up on the blood feuds, but a grudge can none-the-less be carried for generations..

Definitely folks where it pays to stay on their good side. . .

Unfortunately, that is just about impossible with the kind of collateral damage inherent in areal bombing and missile attacks. . . I have to say, if my family was bombed, we would fight the offender 'till either they were destroyed or we were all dead.

At the same time I was perplexed as to why the 9-11 attack was such an enormous deal: There couldn't be THAT many relatives of the victims.

I've occasionally wondered if there isn't a connection between landscape and the attitudes of people, with commonalities between hill people all over the world, likewise for coastal people, plains people, mountain people, etc.

Sean Roach on August 29, 2009, 02:33:15 pm
I suspect so.  I'm pretty sure surroundings shape behavior.  I've noticed a correlation between large population density and a tenancy to vote left, by the current meaning of the term.  More tolerance of neighbors...passtimes, but less tolerance for self defense, or the ability to defend oneself.

There's an annual event in the Nevada desert, the Burning Man festival.  Something they've noticed is attendees tend to be rather neighborly when they're all dumped in what amounts to a giant waterless reflector oven.  Likewise, put a bunch of people in rolling metal boxes with discreet tint along the top of the front windows, so they can't truly SEE each other, and you get all sorts of hostility over such simple things as precedence in line at a stop signal.

KBCraig on August 31, 2009, 06:28:14 am
I used to get Soldier of Fortune back when the Soviet Union was getting the messy end of the stick in Afghanistan and read about what the American war correspondents thought of them.  Almost suicidally brave and honest to a fault, they would make either a very good friends or a very bad enemies depending on your intentions.  If the U.S. military is smart they will remember what happened to the British there about a hundred and twenty years ago and get on the good side of them.  :)

Rudyard Kipling had plenty to say about geting on their bad side... definitely not recommended.

quadibloc on August 31, 2009, 08:50:53 am
At the same time I was perplexed as to why the 9-11 attack was such an enormous deal: There couldn't be THAT many relatives of the victims.

Are you sure you're not a Pashtun?

Other factors were involved in the American reaction to September 11, 2001 than the number of Americans who were relatives of, or personally acquainted with, someone who died in the attacks.

For example, many Americans work in other office towers, or have family members who work in other office towers. Thus, they quite reasonably think that they could just as easily have been among the victims.

As well, for a period of time after the attacks, there was some uncertainty over their source. Without a clear idea of who caused those attacks, and what their capabilities are, the possibility that those attacks were just the first of many could not be eliminated. Thus, air travel in the United States was shut down for a couple of days after September 11, 2001.

While, sadly, the United States suffers from a high crime rate, except for Pearl Harbor and an isolated Japanese landing in the Aleutians, its territory has not experienced an act of war since the Civil War. It's true that there have been other acts of domestic terrorism before the bombing in Oklahoma of the Albert Murrah Federal Building.

But, for example, not many people even remember the bombing, by a couple of segregationist loonies, of a synagogue in Atlanta on October 12, 1958 - to take one random example. (I only know of it because a book commemorating its importance in the development of the civil rights struggle happened to be in a used book store I go to.)

In the number of casualties, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were on the same order of magnitude as Pearl Harbor: 2,403 people died as the result of the Pearl Harbor attacks, and 2,993 died as the result of September 11. (Until I looked it up now, I had thought it was the other way around, with about 2,000 people dying as the result of September 11, and about 3,000 dying as the result of Pearl Harbor, from what I remembered hearing and reading earlier.)

Because the United States is an organized modern nation, and not simply a territory filled with loose-knit tribal villages, what happens to other Americans, even if they're strangers, has an effect similar - although not quite as intense, admittedly - to something happening to a relative. The modern nation-state is intended to function, and largely does function, as though it is a single tribe.

Brugle on August 31, 2009, 11:57:01 am
quadibloc,
Aren't you overgeneralizing?  While many Americans (including famous government and media figures) did react to the 9/11 attacks like uneducated tribesmen, many did not.

quadibloc on August 31, 2009, 08:09:40 pm
While many Americans (including famous government and media figures) did react to the 9/11 attacks like uneducated tribesmen, many did not.

It was not my intention to characterize their reaction in that manner. I was noting that it was not necessary for people to have relatives who were killed in the attacks to be profoundly affected by them, and as a basis for that, I gave background related to the manner in which the modern nation state is organized.

Rocketman on September 01, 2009, 09:34:09 pm
"its territory has not experienced an act of war since the Civil War."
  I don't believe that's quite true.  If I remember my history the Japanese in about 1943-44 sent a number of balloons with small incendiary bombs out over the pacific to hopefully (for them) set forest fires in the United States pacific northwest.  A group of schoolchildren came upon one of them and the teacher was killed and a number of the children were wounded.

quadibloc on September 01, 2009, 10:33:40 pm
I don't believe that's quite true.  If I remember my history the Japanese in about 1943-44 sent a number of balloons with small incendiary bombs out over the pacific to hopefully (for them) set forest fires in the United States pacific northwest.

Yes, you are correct. I forgot about that one. However, this relatively little-known part of American history still wouldn't have the kind of psychological impact that an armed invasion would, and so it's still true that Americans would tend to think of their country as having been nearly unscathed by war for a very long time.

Rocketman on September 02, 2009, 10:44:12 am
Also true.  I remember reading a while back that in the Balkans where fighting has been going on almost every generation since like forever that there was an incident from about 600 years ago that was so horrific that it's called something about blackbirds (carrion)  The serbs and croatians still use that as a answer when someone from the outside asks why they hate each other so much.  If Americans had gone through the same type of experience I wonder if we would be feeling the same way towards our enemies as them.  :P

Ike on September 02, 2009, 12:59:52 pm
The emotions which remain after - how many? - generations since the Civil War ought to give a hint that we're not quite so "civilized" as we might believe.  We are, more likely, very lucky and the beneficiaries of the hard work of a large number of people.  We enjoy a much more "civil" civilization than many, both current and defunct.  We enjoy a level of material well-being undreamed of even by emperors in the past.  We enjoy enough leisure time to seriously seek spiritual well-being, which was formerly only possible if you withdrew from the world's travails and depended upon either the generosity of strangers - e.g., Buddhist monks - or being supported by the current tyrant - e.g., Christian cloistered monestaries - and then only for a fortunate few.  Our air, water and soil are cleaner than they have ever been.  (And please don't quibble with me about unproven and/or imaginary dangers from chemicals measured in the picograms which we have only recently been able to measure or detect; if they had any significant effects on health, there'd be a large number of otherwise unexplained deaths and defects.)  The incidence of cancers is lower than before, although more absolute number of cases because more of us are living long enough to die from it now.  The infectious diseases which plagued my childhood are almost extinct and more children now die from unforeseen lethal reactions to the vaccines than do from the diseases.

So let's not wax too eloquent in our praise of cultures and societies where women are still property and children still die from preventable illnesses and the water is too filthy to wash in let alone drink, etc etc.  Re-listen to Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Trilogy and consider the truths to which it refers.  And remember where we live and what we enjoy and how it came to be and how it is maintained.

quadibloc on September 02, 2009, 11:42:24 pm
When people live in a poor country, and for some reason, people from another religious and ethnic group come in and commit a massacre... and then the government doesn't come in and hunt down the perpetrators... of course people belonging to the group that were the victims is going to retaliate in the only way they can - killing a bunch of innocent people belonging to the other group.

Whether in India, Nigeria, Rwanda, or the Balkans, the attitude of people from the West when this happens often is to use that as "proof" that both sides are equally bad. The idea that there is an enormous difference between those who kill innocent people out of the blue on a day when everything is peaceful... and those who do what they can to survive, that if they are attacked, it will come at a cost... doesn't seem to be realized by those who don't share their precarious situation.

"He started it" isn't a childish irrelevancy.

ObscureDragom on September 03, 2009, 08:36:58 pm
While, sadly, the United States suffers from a high crime rate, except for Pearl Harbor and an isolated Japanese landing in the Aleutians, its territory has not experienced an act of war since the Civil War. It's true that there have been other acts of domestic terrorism before the bombing in Oklahoma of the Albert Murrah Federal Building.

Now, at one point shortly after the 9/11 attacks Bill Clinton had an interview on David Letterman.

He broke his security agreement.

He admited that events similar to 9/11 happened everynow and then, he even mentioned an airport (I think it was Atlanta) that had been shut down for a weekend after a gunfight.

It's just that they where normally caught before anything really happened.

For the first time since the attacks I was calmed since I could finally stop thinking of the American government as a bunch of incompetent rubes that ate taxes and only offered helplessly blind military might and a police force that enforced laws that failed to reflect the moral values of the majority.

That they have any measure of subtlety, precisision or competency is surely a national secret.

I don't think Clinton has been on live Television since.  Damn I miss that guy.

Anyway, the point is that the US does get touched by war and foreign terrorism more frequently then it might be stated, it just keeps it under wraps.