October 12, 2010

Gangster Disciples v. The Taliban

The other night I was browsing through my DVR looking for something interesting to watch. On a side note, I wonder what a psychological profile of my recorded programs list would look like. Eventually, I came to "Need to Know" which is a weekly news show on PBS that takes an in depth look at stories dominating the headlines. It is usually a very good program and I always feel a bit smarter having watched it. That being said, I had a  queue of 9 episodes saved up (give me a break as interesting as it is it's still hard to get pumped for a PBS news show). The first segment (watch it here) was on the Afghan's we are training to eventually take over the country (fingers crossed).

It's nice to meet, in a sense, the people that are over there everyday risking there lives trying to secure a fledgling country. The part that fascinated me the most was when the film crew was with an Afghan military unit on the border with Pakistan. On the other side of the border there was a Taliban outpost that they couldn't attack because it's in Pakistan's territory. The soldiers all seemed very bored and eventually decided they'd give the Taliban a call to see what was going on and try to egg them into a fight. He pulled out his phone and just called his Taliban counterpart up, seriously. How crazy is that? This guy had been fighting the Taliban for 16 years prior to our involvement and he seems pretty used to it. It's all very laid back and almost cordial. At one point he says that he has more in common with the Taliban than he does with the Americans. It was all very strange and surreal and reminded me of the gang problems we have here in Chicago.

Think about the south side of Chicago instead of Afghanistan. Imagine the ANA (the Afghan force we are training) as the Gangster Disciples (GD's) and the Taliban as the Vice Lords (VL's). At some point the Chicago Police Department decides it has had enough of the VL's so it enlists the GD's to train them and finally take them out forever. The police arm the GD's, train them and give them logistical support. Eventually the GD's take out the VL's and the cops can claim victory. But, what have we really won? Instead of two untrained, still wild gangs we have one highly trained gang that knows the same techniques the police do. What is really safer? I'm starting to think it's better to let these amateur forces do battle for another hundred years than to teach them to fight like us.

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