Pope Francis has a terrific idea for how to bring peace to Afghanistan, and it’s basically the same solution he offers for every problem under the sun: dialogue. Yes, of course. The Taliban are killing and mutilating women and hunting down Christians because no one has bothered to sit down and talk with the poor dears. Never mind that American representatives were in discussions with the Taliban for over a year in Doha long before the Afghanistan debacle. Apparently that wasn’t the right kind of dialogue, which, if we have now, will fix everything. The pope said so.
“I join in the unanimous concern for the situation in Afghanistan,” the pontiff told the world on Monday. “I ask all of you to pray with me to the God of peace, so that the clamor of weapons might cease and solutions can be found at the table of dialogue.” Francis explained that it was only as a result of dialogue that “the battered population of that country — men, women, elderly and children” could “return to their own homes, and live in peace and security, in total mutual respect.”
All we have to do is talk it over! Why didn’t anyone think of that before?
Back in the real world, the pope’s words are self-refuting. His own “dialogue” with Muslim leaders hasn’t prevented a single Christian from being persecuted or a single church from being destroyed. His “Human Fraternity” document that he signed along with the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmad el-Tayeb, hasn’t led the Taliban or any other Islamic group to lay down their arms and end their jihad. Dialogue has never worked. Why does he think it will work in Afghanistan?
“A Document On Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was published in in 2019, and has become the basis for the Catholic Church’s relations with Islamic groups and Islam in general. It is as filled with falsehoods and wishful thinking as one would expect coming from a practiced deceiver such as el-Tayeb and someone so eager to be deceived as Pope Francis. Among its many false statements is the claim that terrorism is due to “an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride.”
The idea that poverty causes terrorism is at heart just a call for Western nations to write more checks to governments of Muslim countries. It’s also demonstrably false. The New York Times reported that “not long after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…Alan B. Krueger, the Princeton economist, tested the widespread assumption that poverty was a key factor in the making of a terrorist. Mr. Krueger’s analysis of economic figures, polls, and data on suicide bombers and hate groups found no link between economic distress and terrorism.”
CNS News noted in September 2013 that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”
Yet the analysis that poverty causes terrorism has been applied and reapplied and reapplied again. And here was the pope signing on to this falsehood.
The pope is thoroughly deceived. Back in 2019, he told crowds: “Despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values: life, family, religious sense, honor for the elderly, the education of the young, and others as well.”
Yet the Taliban today is doing numerous things that contravene such values, and they are doing every last one of them because they believe that their actions are prescribed and sanctioned by Islamic texts and teachings. The pope’s assumption that the Christian and Islamic worlds share common values is the same ethnocentric error that Western policy analysts all too frequently make: they accept without questioning the idea that by such words as “life,” “family,” and “religious sense,” all Christians and Muslims are referring to exactly the same things. The idea that the Taliban might have a very different concept of the family, allowing for Islamic polygamy, and of the value of life, allowing for the Qur’an’s repeated commands to kill non-Muslims (2:191, 4:89, cf. 9:5), doesn’t seem to occur to Pope Francis or others like him. The Taliban just need an attentive and sympathetic ear, and they’ll turn into the comfortable Western Leftist post-Christian suburbanites that are the pope’s primary constituency. Won’t they?