Sunday, August 15, 2021

Afghanistan and the Uyghurs

The most surprising thing about the speed of regime change in Afghanistan is that so many people were surprised at the speed.

Another, perhaps less surprising thing, is how many people mention that the Afghanistan debacle has cost a trillion dollars, but omit the other side of the ledger. It has earned a trillion dollars; much of it by the owners of the armaments industry, that old military-industrial complex. War is profitable for the few.

Not so surprisingly is that few people look east of Afghanistan to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to see if there are any lessons to be learnt.

Western politicians and commentators are pretty much united in their condemnation of the Chinese government's treatment of the Uyghur people. Much of the criticism is doubtless deserved and I have no wish to stand as an apologist for China. Let us, however, pause for deep thought.

There have been elements within the Uyghur people who have called for independence from China and the establishment of an Islamic state. It is always hard to be sure just how much is truth and how much is politically motivated exaggeration but there have clearly been some acts of violence by some people who support such aims.

Unsurprisingly, the Chinese government seeks to do all it can to avoid secession of Xinjiang and the creation of an Islamic state. It will not have escaped the notice of the Chinese leadership that the Western approach towards Islamist violence has been an abject failure. Across many countries in northern and sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, Islam has brought anything but the harmony that the Chinese see as a goal for its people. They have seen the armies of the USA, the UK and other nations move in. They have seen the killing of uncounted hundreds of thousands of people and unconscionable suffering of the survivors.

The current tragedy of Afghanistan is just the latest testimony to the failure of the West to deal effectively with ruthless theocracy based on medieval scripture. The Chinese will have been looking to their western provinces and deciding to have none of that. There must surely be a better way to establish harmony between citizens than by allowing destructive religions to flourish and then by dropping bombs on people when events get out of hand.

By all means let us hold the perpetrators of atrocities to account, but when criticising China, let us do it with some humility, recognising that the West has failed utterly to deal with violent Islamism, and that China, in contrast, has not sought to be the world's policeman, has not invaded foreign countries and has not bombed countries back to the Middle Ages.

Some further reading about the Turkistan Islamic Party.


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