Reconciliation or Accountability?

“Reconciliation or accountability?”

It’s one of those choices that in ideality -as opposed to reality- no one should have to make.

Either the one, or the other. Trouble is, both look so damn pretty it’s hard to decide. Like the story of Buridan’s Ass that starved to death unable to decide between the bales of hay.


Here are a few other ones like it:

1. “Liberty or security?” (pops up regularly in post-9/11 US – and even in Europe!);

2. “Khurma or Sawab?” (Dari proverb meaning “Dates or deeds?”: otherwordly rewards, or instant gratification);

3. “Peace or justice?” (a common one, most commonly heard in relation to Israeli-Palestinian conflict);

4. “To be or, or not to be: that is the question.” (Shakespeare died trying to figure out what it would be like not to be in order to conclusively answer this.)



Title of Soren Kierkegaard’s book in which he refutes the either/or paradigm. It is a refutation of the dialectics of Hegel, who famously had an infectious fetish for either/or. The Victorious Hermit’s choice of the title was ironic, and some say even satirical.


The short, and correct answer to all of these questions is:

-“Both, please. At the same time.”


“Reconciliation or accountability?”

It’s one of those choices that in ideality (as opposed to reality) no one should have to make.

Unfortunately, it’s also a choice that confronts Afghanistan today. In all its harsh reality. And so much depends on it.


I understand the warlords – I do- and their ditch effort to just forgive themselves and be all lovey-dovey and peacey-reconciley.

But then what becomes of so much blood spelt, sons murdered, daughters raped, fathers imprisoned and lost, and mothers left alone and sad?

If something is not done about all so much wrong, the sky would -should- fall down. More realistically, the nation’s soul will be so unclean and tainted at the very moment of its new beginning that it will never be cleansed.

With no accountability, there will be no fresh start, no new beginning -of the kind that Afghanistan needs. With no reconciliation, the cycle will just go on.


So, reconciliation or accountability?

-“Both, please. At the same time.”


One Response to Reconciliation or Accountability?

  1. […] discusses the choice between reconciliation and accountability in Afghanistan, asking why the country cannot have both. Nathan […]

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