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  • Pakistan: Obama’s Nightmare


    by Sid (Faisal)
    17th December, 2008 at 3:00 pm    

    This article presents a potted history of the Afghanistan/Pakistan crucible in 12 easy paras and is devoid of almost any peroration. It’s written by someone called Immanuel Wallerstein. I don’t know who he is or what his background is, but it offers an excellent approach to the geopolitics of the region from a “US Realist” school; the school of Zbigniew Brzezinski.

    In the 1990s, with the end of the Cold War and the momentary geopolitical weakness of Russia, both the United States and China sought tentatively to obtain closer relations with India. India was geopolitically a more important prize than Pakistan, and Pakistan knew this. One of the ways Pakistan reacted was to expand its role in (and control over) Afghanistan, by supporting the eventually successful Taliban takeover of the country.

    What happened after 2001? The United States invaded Afghanistan, ousted the Taliban, and installed a government which had elements friendly to the United States, to Russia, even to Iran, but not at all to Pakistan. At the same time, the United States and India got still cozier, with the new arrangements on nuclear energy. So, the Pakistani government turned a blind eye to the renewal of Taliban strength in the northwest tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. The Taliban elements there, supported by al-Qaeda elements, renewed military operations in Afghanistan - and with considerable success, it should be noted.

    The United States became quite upset, pressed the Pakistani army to act militarily against these Taliban/al-Qaeda elements, and itself engaged in direct (albeit covert) military action in this region. The Pakistani government found itself between a rock and a hard place. It had never had much capacity to control matters in the tribal regions. And the attempts it made as a result of U.S. government pressure weakened it still further. But its inefficacy pushed the U.S. military to act even more directly, which led to severe anti-American sentiment even among the most historically pro-American elites.

    What can Obama do? Send in troops? Against whom? The Pakistani government itself? It is said that the U.S. government is particularly concerned with the nuclear stockpile that Pakistan has. Would the United States try to seize this stockpile? Any action along these lines - and Obama recklessly hinted at such actions during the electoral campaign - would make the Iraqi fiasco seem like a minor event. It would certainly doom Obama’s domestic objectives.

    There will be no shortage of people who will counsel him that doing nothing is unacceptable weakness. Is that Obama’s only alternative? It seems clear that pursuing his agenda, as he himself has defined it, requires getting out from under the unending and geopolitically fruitless U.S. activities in the Middle East. Iraq will be easy, since the Iraqis will insist on U.S. withdrawal. Afghanistan will be harder, but a political deal is not impossible. Iran can be negotiated. The Israel/Palestine conflict is for the moment unresolvable, and Obama may be able to do little else than let the situation fester still longer.

    But Pakistan requires a decision. If a Pakistani government is to survive, it will have to be one that can show it holds its own geopolitically. This will not be at all easy, given the internal situation, and an angry Indian public opinion. If there is anywhere where Obama can act intelligently, this is the place.

    This seems to confirm all my gut desires of US foreign policy at this moment: Forget I/P - the situation is entrenched and it’s hopelessly irredeemable. Get out of Iraq. Bolster the troop numbers in Afghanistan along the Pakistan border and thrash out a political deal between the Pak military and Afghan warlords to keep out of each others’ way.


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    1. halima — on 17th December, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

      Thanks for posting, Sid, look forward to reading. Wallerstein is left wing development theorist, wrote World Systems Theory and known to be quite Maxist oriented. You will have read lots of things influenced by his work - he talks of core and periphery in the world system - rather than the ‘third world’ etc and dependency. I agree he is excellent so will look at what he writes with keen interest on this contemporary issue .

    2. Ashik — on 17th December, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

      Even if the Pakistani government were to wholeheartedly wish to co-operate with the Americans they would not be able to successfully confront the insurgents on the border areas that Pakistan shares with Afghanistan and police these areas given that the Durand line was a colonial construct which divides Pashtun familys and clans and is not recognised by most people. Enforcing normal observation of exit and entry on this border is likely to cause as many problems for Pakistan as the current lawlessness.

    3. Leon — on 17th December, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

      he talks of core and periphery in the world system - rather than the ‘third world’

      I really like that terminology, will have to dig out some more of this guys stuff…

    4. Refresh — on 17th December, 2008 at 5:23 pm  

      A good find Sid.

      Without an appreciation of the geopolitics we are left shouting from the sidelines.

      Here is a piece which helps us with our understanding from the time of Carter-Brzezinski.

      ‘According to this 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the CIA’s intervention in Afghanistan preceded the 1979 Soviet invasion. This decision of the Carter Administration in 1979 to intervene and destabilise Afghanistan is the root cause of Afghanistan’s destruction as a nation.’

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html

      This will give you, first hand, information you will need for a proper assessment of the situation.

    5. S Johal — on 17th December, 2008 at 5:49 pm  

      ‘According to this 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the CIA’s intervention in Afghanistan preceded the 1979 Soviet invasion. This decision of the Carter

      Spot on

      When I, mentioned this on the other page, Somebody took the piss, and said there was no pre-9/11 US radar on the region, I believe it was Douglas Clare

    6. comrade — on 17th December, 2008 at 9:03 pm  

      here’s another historical view

      Afghanistan - the continuation of the two-decade long war of imperialist terrorism

      U.S. imperialism began its present predatory war against the people of Afghanistan on 7th October 2001. Begun in the name of waging a “war against terrorism”, it is actually the continuation of the terrorist war that U.S. imperialism has been waging against Afghanistan since the spring of 1979. In this war, 2.5 million Afghans, representing 10 per cent of the entire population, have been killed and a third of the population turned into refugees - either internally displaced or abroad.

      Confining ourselves to the latest imperialist outrage against the Afghan people, we cannot help noting the preponderance of force employed by the world’s mightiest military power, armed with the most sophisticated weaponry, against the world’s poorest nation, with non-existent air defences and no weapons to match. In waging this war, U.S. imperialism mobilised five of its twelve aircraft carriers, with hundreds of aircraft flying thousands of sorties. In this high-tech bombing, which has become a central characteristic feature of all the wars waged by U.S. imperialism ever since the Gulf war, the ‘galant’ U.S. pilots have wreaked havoc on the Afghan people from a safe distance of 15 kilometers above the ground. Using satellite-guided ‘precision’ weapons, the U.S. air force, at conservative estimates, has been killing at the rate of 60 Afghans a day, bringing the total casualties close to 10,000.

      In this “crusade of civilisation” against “barbarism” and “international terrorism”, hospitals, mosques, Red Cross warehouses, villages, schools, residential areas and refugee convoys have been sprayed with 450 kg cluster bombs - the resulting casualties being dismissed, with characteristic imperialist disregard for human life, as “collateral damage”. The massacres at Uruzgan (January 24) and at another village near the town of Gardez, as well as the cold-blooded mass murder of more than 500 prisoners of war in Mazar-i-Sharif stand as an eloquent testimony not only to the brutality and barbarism of imperialism, but also to its cynical hypocrisy, for it commits these crimes against humanity in the name of humanitarianism and portrays them as the highest achievements of humanity.

      In this “war of civilisation” for the triumph of “good” against “evil”, thus far over 70,000 cluster bombs have been left unexploded; hundreds of buildings have been torched, hundreds of people, with their hands tied behind their backs, have been shot dead, and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have been forced to become refugees; 500 prisoners of war, shackled and masked, have been taken to a concentration camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, there to be put in cages, exposed to the elements and denied prisoner-of-war status contrary to the Geneva Conventions, and later to be tried in military tribunals in the U.S. where the normal rules of even bourgeois justice are to be suspended.

      Even with all the military might and technological superiority on its side, to begin with, U.S. imperialism was reluctant to commit its forces on the ground - being forced instead to rely on the Northern Alliance, which owes little allegiance to U.S. imperialism, as the latter until only yesterday supported the erstwhile Taliban regime.

      For all its devastating power, the bombing alone could not install a puppet regime of some sort in Kabul. For that to happen, soldiers’ boots had to come in contact with terra firma. Being unwilling to risk the lives of its own soldiers, U.S. imperialism reluctantly decided to adopt the risky strategy of helping the Northern Alliance forces by a heavy bombardment of Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar, which in consequence were respectively captured by the Northern Alliance on November 9th and 13th and December 7th.

      Karzai’s Quisling interim administration

      Meanwhile, as the remorseless carnage continued in Afghanistan, 4,000 miles away at St. Petersberg Hotel, near Bonn in Germany, under the watchful eyes of U.S. and German imperialism, a political conspiracy against the people of Afghanistan was in the making. Representatives of four factions - the Northern Alliance, those loyal to the former king, a Pakistani-backed group from Peshawar, and a group backed by Iran - attended the St. Petersberg conference. Absent from this conference were the true representatives of the people of Afghanistan.

      After a great deal of haggling, and arm-twisting by U.S. imperialism, the conference, on 27 November, came up with what can only be called the Bonn stitch-up, which brought in the 30-strong interim council of Quislings to govern Afghanistan for six months prior to the convocation of a Loya Jirga (a council of tribal elders); the latter charged with the authority to appoint a transitional government for a term of two years followed by elections. Seventeen out of the thirty places on this council, including the ministries of defence, the interior and foreign affairs, have been allocated to the Northern Alliance. On 22 December, the interim governmet, headed by Hamid Karzai, an abject puppet of U.S. imperialism, was sworn in. As Hamid Karzai has no social base, nor does he command any forces of his own, to make his sojourne safe at the presidential palace in Kabul, the UN Security Council approved a ‘peace-keeping’ force, nominally under UN auspices. Lead by the UK, but under overall U.S. control, 5,000 troops from Britain, Germany, France and other countries are charged with enforcing security for the interim government.

      Despite the massive presence of the imperialist forces in Afghanistan and the backing received by the puppet interim government from the principal imperialist countries, the writ of the Karzai government does not extend beyond the presidential palace. War lords in different parts of the country are fighting it out between themselves to gain control of different provinces, with the Karzai government looking on impassively. In fact, his own minister of defence, Mohammad Fahim, has been a party to the bloody clashes in the north and east of the country. The killing of his tourism and aviation minister, Abdul Rahman, was a devastating blow to Karzai, for Mr Rahman was killed in a vendetta, going back to Northern Alliance’s struggle against the Taliban, involving fellow ministers, generals, intelligence officers and members of the ministry of justice.

      While Mr Karzai goes on an imperialist-inspired charm offensive abroad, travelling to Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Britain, India and Russia in a matter of less than three months, he has “… barely ventured deeper into his country than Kabul airport” (FT, 6 Feb. 02). “It is one thing”, stated the FT of 28 January, “for Mr Karzai to impress foreign dignitaries falling over themselves to support Afghanistan; it will be quite another to hold together his fast-fragmenting homeland - even with Mr Bush’s endorsement.”

      Imperialist troops to stay

      The position of the Karzai government is so shaky and fragile that it cannot last even a few weeks without the prop of the imperialist soldiers. With U.S. imperialism insisting on Mr Karzai to head the transitional government that is due to assume office for 18 months in June, it is clear that imperialist troops are not only in for the long haul but that their numbers will have to be drastically increased if the government is to have even a semblance of authority outside of Kabul. It is widely accepted in diplomatic circles that the U.S. army is busy developing what it hopes will be a lasting presence in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries. The U.S. has already secured bases in Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. It is involved with its forces in the remote Philippine island of Basilan and is getting ready to send military ‘advisors’ to the former soviet republic of Georgia - all in the name of ‘anti-terrorist’ operations.

      France and Britain, which less than two months ago insisted that they would not stay in Afghanistan beyond 15 April, have indicated that they will stay. More than likely, the mandate and the number of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the lynch brigade of imperialism in Afghanistan, will be extended.

      In fact, U.S. imperialism has taken up the mantle of Nazi Germany in a vain attempt to create a thousand-year American Reich. No country, which dares to assert its independence, is safe. Sixty-eight countries, not just Afghanistan, are in the frame of a war, say the spokesmen of U.S. imperialism, “that may not end in our lifetime” - waged in the name of “failed states”, “rogue states”, “axis of evil” and “humanitarianism”.

      On 11 September 1990, first as the U.S. was building its counter-revolutionary coalition as a prelude to the Gulf war, George Bush senior, the then president of the U.S., vowed that the war to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein would bring in “a new world order - freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace.” Of course these were absurd and hypocritical claims by the chief executive of the most aggressive, blood-thirsty and terrorist state known in human history, for how can the world be rid of the threat of terror, how can there be peace and justice, while imperialism, in particular U.S. imperialism, exists. Be that as it may, George Bush’s administration failed utterly in its endeavour to oust the Iraqi regime.

      Twelve years later, his son and the present incumbent of the White House, has presented the predatory imperialist war against Afghanistan as the first phase of a global crusade which will only end when “every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated”. This is an absurd claim, for shorn of all euphemism, this assertion is nothing short of an attempt to delegitimatise all resistance to imperialist exploitation, plunder and oppression. If Bush Junior is to succeed in his attempts to rid the world of “terrorism” (read resistance), the causes of this resistance must be ended forthwith. This can only come about with the defeat and overthrow of imperialism - something which the chief executive of U.S. imperialism can hardly have had in mind. The people of the world would certainly pick up the gauntlet thrown at them by U.S. imperialism, intensify their resistance, and oppose the counter-revolutionary imperialist wars with revolutionary people’s wars against imperialism and its flunkeys.

      The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with terrorism. It is a war waged by U.S. imperialism to monopolise the oil resources of the vast region stretching from the Middle East to the eastern republics of the former USSR. Further, it is a war to establish unchallenged U.S. dominance over all parts of the world. The U.S. ruling class insists on hegemony over, not just the oppressed peoples, but also over rival imperialist powers - partly through overwhelming superiority in all kinds of weaponry and partly through control over the vast oil resources of the Middle East and Central Asia.

      Consequently, the U.S. military expenditure is set to rise dramatically, From $280 billion a year in 2001, the U.S. defence budget shot up to $329 bn for the fiscal year 2002. U.S. defence secretary, Rumsfeld, plans to request the Congress for an additional $48 bn next year - bringing the total to $377 bn per annum. Not being contend with this, U.S. imperialism is planning, in flagrant violation of the ABM treaty, to build a National Missile Defence (NMD - the son of Reagan’s star wars) so as to make the US. invulnerable to a nuclear attack. The NMD alone is estimated to cost $150 bn. The NMD is presently considered to be unfeasible technologically; besides other nuclear powers, for instance Russia and China, will take notice and take necessary counter-measures. The point however is that U.S. imperialism is engaged in this Hitlerite attempt at world domination and its military expenditure today exceeds the combined defence budgets of the next 14 biggest military spenders in the world - including Japan, Western Europe, Russia and China. The gargantuan U.S. military budget is a harbinger of the wars of aggression which U.S. imperialism has in store for the peoples of the world, for, in the words of a U.S. general, “you don’t think we are going to spend all this money on the military and keep it parked in a garage, do you?”

      It has dozens of military bases abroad where more than a quarter of a million U.S. troops are stationed (254,783 according to the FT of 18 January 2002). Of these 188,105 are posted in Europe; 91,670 in East Asia and The Pacific (40,217 in Japan and 37,605 in South Korea); 26,878 in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa; and 14,015 in South America. With the planned defence budget increases, the U.S. is embarked on acquiring for its armed forces more ships, more equipment, air-to-air refuelling tankers, pilotless craft such as the Global Hawk and predatory spy drones, satellites, surveillance planes and aircraft listening to enemy communications, as well as precision weapons.

      In addition, it will doubtless try to secure more military bases abroad, the importance of which has been reinforced by the use of Diego Garcia from where U.S. B-52 and B-1B bombers flew to shed their deadly load on the Afghan people.

      The idea behind these high-tech schemes is that the U.S. should be able to wage a virtual war without endangering the lives of her military personnel. But the idea does not work in practice. It is one thing for the cowardly U.S. air crew to bomb with impunity from a safe height of 15 kilometers people who have virtually no air defences. It is altogether a different proposition to control and subdue the people who are the targets of this neo-Nazi blitzkrieg. For all its sophisticated weaponry, the narrowing of the sensor-to-shooter time and the information supplied by the U.S. special forces on the ground, the U.S. could never have captured Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar without risking her own soldiers except with the aid of the anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance. Thus at the very least, imperialism needs to combine massive use of force with allies on the ground. Not only is such an option not available to imperialism in every conflict (for instance in its continuing war against Iraq), in the end it is bound to prove insufficient, as the unfolding events are already proving in the case of Afghanistan. It is only too clear that the forces resisting U.S. aggression in Afghanistan, having recovered from the massive and indiscriminate U.S. bombardment, are beginning to regroup, with U.S. imperialism now poised for the far more dangerous phase - a guerilla war by the resistance forces which have dispersed across the country heavily armed.

      The battle now raging in the Shahi-Kot mountains is proof enough of the inability of imperialism to subdue resistance without involving its own soldiers. Operation Anaconda, involving over a thousand U.S. and other imperialist troops, not to speak of several thousands from the Northern Alliance, is beginning to look a disaster for U.S. imperialism. Eight American servicemen were killed when a Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade as it tried to land a reconnaissance team on the ground in the first week of March.

      The battle for Shahi-Kot is a turning point in the present Afghan war. If the imperialist forces do not win this battle, it will doom their Afghan adventure to utter disaster and encourage resistance to the imperialist occupation forces all over the country. The resistance at Shahi-Kot is also the most serious challenge so far to the puppet Karzai interim administration. Further, operation Anaconda, with its reliance on such large numbers of American soldiers, is a reflection of the realisation that the combination of U.S. air strikes and Afghan ground troops is not enough to put an end to the Afghan resistance. The FT of 6 March captures the predicament in which U.S. imperialism finds itself in the following words:

      “As the U.S. becomes increasingly engaged in … operations around the world - including the remote Philippine Island of Basilan and the Pankisci Gorge amid the caucasus mountains of Georgia - a familiar ghost is emerging from conflicting reports in hostile territory. A slip of the tongue by Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, gave an unwitting glimpse of what has been uppermost in the minds of the military planners.”

      “Speaking to reporters on Monday [4 March], he said: ‘First let me say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and the friends of the service members who have lost their lives in our ongoing operations in Vietnam.’” (Friends and Foes)

      After the Vietnam experience, U.S. imperialism’s ability to take casualties has been severely curtailed; hence its reluctance to commit ground forces. U.S. fears were further confirmed when the Lebanese resistance killed 242 U.S. marines in a massive explosion, which forced a humiliating U.S. withdrawal from that country. The Somalian debacle of 1993, when Somali patriots killed several U.S. soldiers and dragged their dead bodies through the streets of Mogadishu in front of the world’s television cameras, only served to strengthen these fears. Afghanistan, with its unfolding and expanding conflict, cannot fail to teach U.S. imperialism a lesson that it will not easily forget.

      As if all this is not enough, the deepening crisis of imperialism is sharpening the inter-imperialist contradictions to levels not seen since before the Second World War. The crisis of overproduction, which made its appearance in the guise of a currency crisis in Asia in 1997 and spread to Russia in 1998, before jumping continents and infecting Brazil, continues to do its destructive work. The Japanese economy, which has been in deep trouble for a whole decade, declined 3% in the first quarter of last year, with the decline accelerating to an annualised rate of 10% of the Japanese GDP in the second quarter; the U.S. economy, the engine of the world economy for a whole decade, is in recession; growth in the European Union is just above zero. This is increasingly leading to trade disputes and protectionism, notwithstanding the grandiloquent phrases about the wonders of an open world economy uttered by the representatives of the rival imperialist camps and their ideologues. The latest duties imposed by the U.S. on imported steel are merely a tip of the iceberg and a harbinger of the disaster to come.

      While expressing verbal solidarity with the U.S., its rival imperialists are most unhappy with the current state of affairs whereby U.S. imperialism pushes them around and treats them with contempt. Germany is most unhappy about the command of foreign troops, including the so-called peace force, in Afghanistan and has demanded the separation of the peacekeeping mission from the U.S.-led Enduring Freedom military mission.

      Of course, the European Union under German leadership and Japan are not in a position to take U.S. imperialism on militarily, for one thing they do not possess nuclear weapons. But they do have the industrial, financial and technological ability to acquire these weapons. Their economic strength has grown enormously during the last 50 years. Whereas after the Second World War, while Japan and Europe lay literally prostrate, with their economies ruined and industry devastated, the U.S. emerges as the strongest imperialist power, accounting single-handedly for 45% of the global GDP. This combined with the victories of the Red Army, the triumph of the Chinese Revolution, and the emergence of the socialist camp, put the fear of god into the hearts of the European and Japanese bourgeoisie and made them accept without questioning U.S. leadership as the only way to avoid collapse and ward off the spectre of communism.

      The situation, however, has changed drastically. While the EU and Japanese economies have surged forward, the U.S. economy, relatively speaking, has declined. Presently it represents about 27% of the global GDP. In contrast, the economy of the EU is equal to the size of the American economy, and Japan, for all her troubles during the post decade, alone accounts for 17% of the global GDP. Thus it is clear that both the EU and Japan, especially with the demise of the USSR and the eastern bloc, and the resultant disappearance of the socialist threat, are in a position to say no to the U.S. and are increasingly saying so. Both German and Japanese imperialism have insisted on, and secured, the right to deploy their armed forces outside of their respective national frontiers.

      Clearly three rival imperialist blocs are being formed - with the U.S. strengthening its grip on North and South America, Germany in central and eastern Europe, and Japan in Asia Pacific - as prelude to encroaching upon each other’s patch and in the last resort fighting it out.

      There is no way of telling at the moment if Germany and Japan will go nuclear, if so when. For its part U.S. imperialism is determined to prevent them from doing so. Alternatively, it is not beyond the realm of probability that either Germany, or Japan, or both of them make an alliance with Russia, which does have the weaponry to confront the U.S. In this context, it is worth taking serious note that chancellor Schröder of Germany has advocated Russia’s inclusion in the EU as well as NATO, both of which ideas are opposed by the U.S. for the obvious reason that they present a challenge to its hegemony within NATO.

      Whatever the advocates of the opportunist Kautskyite theory of ultra imperialism, now rechristened as the theory of collective imperialism by bourgeois ideologues and reformists in the present-day working class movement, may say, the various imperialist blocs are limbering up for a fight not because of any malice on anyone’s part, but because the uneven development of capitalism and the crisis of imperialism are inexorably pushing them in that direction. It is inconceivable that either Japanese or German imperialism, neither of whom have any independent access to oil, which is the staple diet of imperialist industry and war machines alike, will allow U.S. imperialism to grab the oil resources of the vast region stretching from the Middle East to Central Asia, which the present Afghan war is all about.

      In the light of this, the outcome of the Afghan war will be just the opposite of that intended by U.S. imperialism. Afghan resistance, coupled with serious rifts in the imperialist camp, are more than likely to crown the Afghan resistance with victory. What is more, people elsewhere too, taking advantage of inter-imperialist quarrels and rifts, will go on to score spectacular victories against imperialism. With the deepening crisis, imperialism is bound to intensify its attack on the working class at home in an effort to pass all the burden on to the shoulders of the working class, which in turn cannot fail to create the conditions for mass opposition to imperialism in the leading imperialist countries. But this will not happen automatically. The parties of the proletariat have much work on their hands. Let them undertake this the most urgent and noble task of teaching the working class and inculcating in it the spirit of irreconcilable hostility to imperialism, and bonds of unbreakable solidarity with the opressed peoples in the latter’s struggle against imperialism.

    7. Sunny — on 17th December, 2008 at 9:25 pm  

      I agree with your conclusions at the end Sid. But I fear that even Afghanistan is too much in a dire situation, and these idiots want to cut and run, again.

    8. Sid — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:14 am  

      comrade, I notice that the word “imperialist” or “imperialism” appears 68 times in your comment at #6.

      What is your point exactly? ;-)

    9. Sid — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:19 am  

      hmmm Sunny, dunno if I agree with you.

      I notice you use the phrase “cut and run” - which neocons and arch republicans use when they want to use a loaded term for disengagement from Iraq. But sensible people know that withdrawal is necessary and imperative for all parties. I think Obama is one of the few who can articulate this in Washington without it sounding to American ears like “capitulation”.

      On the other hand, there I hear very little political talk of “cut and run” in Afghanistan, thankfully. Because I believe that’s where a multilateral military presence, headed by the USA, needs to be located for the long haul.

      And Britain needs to head up the political negotiations. Something Britain does well.

    10. Venkat — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:26 am  

      Obama must be advised on the history and the genetic making of the people of Pakistan and Taliban.They are are old Mohd. Gajaini and Ghori. If you probe deeply they are the products of the concubines and wayward mistresses of the Moghul Army with some amount of the Blood of Chenghis Khan.
      They are are war mongering and animalistic.We cannot civilise them with democratic institutions which we are thrusting on them in Afghanistan and other areas.This is not correct.
      All the US aid to Pakistan is passed on to Taliban to fight Afghanistan.All the armaments are getting transferred.China is having a good trade in arms with these people.
      please stop all aid to Pakistan and attack the border areas along With China and India.Even carpet bombing of these areas and demolishing all villages in the area will be worthwhile rather than talking development and culture now.

    11. Sid — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:32 am  

      Venkat, some of my best friends are “concubines and wayward mistresses” and their “products”.

      You sound like a knob-end.

    12. Sofia — on 18th December, 2008 at 10:44 am  

      Venkat, I reckon you’d be great as one of Obama’s advisers

    13. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 11:00 am  

      Sid,

      If we could actually do what we said we’d do in Afghanistan, like develop the bloody place, then things might turn out better.

      It has always struck me as very odd that the need for opiates, y’know poppy derivatives, has not been seen as part of the solution. Given the world wide shortage.

    14. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 11:05 am  

      Oops,

      Venkat, from the school of stupid says:

      Even carpet bombing of these areas and demolishing all villages in the area will be worthwhile rather than talking development and culture now.

      Err, no it won’t you moron.

    15. Sid — on 18th December, 2008 at 11:35 am  

      It has always struck me as very odd that the need for opiates, y’know poppy derivatives, has not been seen as part of the solution. Given the world wide shortage.

      douglas, interesting one.

      This article says that the Taliban made something like 3 billion USD from the opium harvest.

      Doesn’t say what the US-backed Karzai gov are making from it nor whether it has been sancioned as a contributary component to the economy. Just like opium was a major part of the British economy in the 18th century.

    16. sonia — on 18th December, 2008 at 12:19 pm  

      as halima says in no. 1 - it will be interesting to hear what he has to say now, i haven’t come across him for a while, outside of the texbooks.

    17. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

      Sid,

      Don’t think Karzais’ lot have sanctioned it. They appear to see it as a wrong. I’m talking about analgesiacs - see, I can do big medical words though lacking that essential medical background - rather than as laudamum for the masses. There seems to me to be nothing fundamentally wrong with encouraging Afghanistan to supply opium if it is turned into opiates.

      We are growing the stuff in Kent. Because we can’t get it elsewhere.

    18. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 1:55 pm  

      What is your point exactly? ;-)

      Is that all you got say about the artical.

      The imperialist press and petty-bourgeois toadies of US imperialism refuse to recognise that the resistance in Afghanistan, as indeed in Iraq, represents the hearts and minds of the masses of the people, which is what make them unbeatable. They like to claim that it is the harshness of the treatment meted out by the resistance to all those who oppose them, along with the murder of all rivals, that makes them such an effective opponent. However, if brutality were the key to victory, it is obvious that the Afghan resistance would not stand a chance against Anglo-American imperialism. All sane commentators on the situation in Afghanistan recognise that because the invading forces offer nothing to the Afghan masses other than repression, recruitment to the resistance is brisker by the day. Bartle Breese Bull, the foreign editor of Prospect magazine, writing in the International Herald Tribune of 15 August[11] makes the point that is obvious to anybody other than an imperialist lusting after superprofits that “Liberal democracies [i.e., imperialist powers] cannot win counterinsurgencies against the wills of local populations, and denying a livelihood to poor farmers of southern and eastern Afghanistan [or anywhere else!] is no way to persuade them to side with the West.” Although Breese Bull is arguing against the destruction of poppy crops, the whole point is that this is the ONLY crop that has been producing any kind of a livelihood for the Afghan farmers. Such is the exploitative relationship between imperialism on the one hand and Afghanistan on the other, that broad sections of ordinary people are unable to make any kind of a living. What has led the masses of the people to support the resistance is that submission to imperialism offers them no hope for the future.

      Of course, the masses of the people are also aware of the sheer hypocrisy of imperialism which, while claiming to be fighting for their human rights, is detaining “hundreds of suspects for years without trial at the Bagram air base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba”,[12] where, one might add, they are subjected to torture and degrading treatment.

      Imperialist forces casually unleash bombing raids which kill hundreds of civilians in the hope that there might be a freedom fighter or two among them. In recent weeks there have been raids in Herat, Laghman, Kapisa, Paktika, Kunar and Nurestan, all resulting in civilian casualties and air strikes in western Afghanistan on Friday 22 August, reported by US media as having killed 5 civilians and 25 militants, in fact killed over 90 people, mostly women and children. These “have stirred up Afghans’ strong independent streak and ancient dislike of foreigners”[13] – as well they might! Even the puppet Karzai has had to put on a show of protesting against such activity, probably quite sincerely since it is so effectively undermining his position in the country.

    19. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

      comrade,

      Difficult to actually understand where you are coming from. What is your solution to the Afghanistan impasse? I’d have doubted, correct me if I am wrong, that the ‘freedom fighters’ to whom you refer in such glowing terms are anything much, other than a resurgent Taliban / Al Quaida, what have you.

      Maybe it’s just the left wing language that you use, but it seems a bit at odds with that fundamentalist reality. Are you really that cold blooded that you would let your sisters rot?

      Or did you just cut and paste the whole thing?

      What do the numbers in the brackets refer to?

      Here’s one for you. [42]. It’s the answer to everything, apparently.

    20. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

      S Johal @ 5,

      Don’t think it was me.

      Could you point me to it, ’cause if I’m losing my mind, I’d like to know…

    21. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:16 pm  

      Are you really that cold blooded that you would let your sisters rot?

      Not as cold blooded as the US/UK/NATO Bombings of civilians.

      ‘freedom fighters’ to whom you refer in such glowing terms are anything much, other than a resurgent Taliban / Al Quaida, what have you.

      In my terms any people who are fighting the ocupation of their land are freedom fighters regardless of their Religous or politcal beliefs. We in the west call them terrorist. My question to you, are thousands of people who are fighting the ocupation all terrorist. Let me make it clear the I no love for Taliban, the first people they get rid of are the leftD

      ifficult to actually understand where you are coming from. What is your solution to the Afghanistan impasse?

      We must let the Afgan people decide their own future without outside interferenc, this only strenthens the reationary/religous forces. I think we made a big mistake when when the US ousted Najibulla.

      Or did you just cut and paste the whole things.

      This artical is out of our politcal jurnal. please dont ask which.

    22. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

      Are you really that cold blooded that you would let your sisters rot?

      Not as cold blooded as the US/UK/NATO Bombings of civilians.

      ‘freedom fighters’ to whom you refer in such glowing terms are anything much, other than a resurgent Taliban / Al Quaida, what have you.

      In my terms any people who are fighting the ocupation of their land are freedom fighters regardless of their Religous or politcal beliefs. We in the west call them terrorist. My question to you, are thousands of people who are fighting the ocupation all terrorist. Let me make it clear that I no love for Taliban, the first people they get rid of are the left

      Difficult to actually understand where you are coming from. What is your solution to the Afghanistan impasse?

      We must let the Afgan people decide their own future without outside interference, this only strengthens the reactionary/religous forces. I think we made a big mistake when when US ousted Najibulla.

      Or did you just cut and paste the whole things.

      This artical is out of our politcal jurenal. please dont ask which.

    23. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:26 pm  

      This artical is out of our politcal jurnal. please dont ask which.

      Any particular reason why not? If it would put you in any jeapardy please ignore this comment.

    24. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:38 pm  

      So the gas pipeline, which will run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan is the whole reason for the outright war on a country that was
      Douglas, Don’t think it was me.

      Could you point me to it, ’cause if I’m losing my mind, I’d like to know…

      ,no-ones radar, pre 9/11?

      Have I got that right

      Nothing whatsoever to do with OBL or Al Quaida.

      Sweet, mate, truly sweet.

      I think I’d have to viciously twist my ankle to allow that to be the meme of the day.

      Sorry, this was revenge, pure and simple.

      There was no economic motive, there was however a desire to strike out. Hurt someone.

    25. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:38 pm  

      So the gas pipeline, which will run through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan is the whole reason for the outright war on a country that was
      Douglas, Don’t think it was me.

      Could you point me to it, ’cause if I’m losing my mind, I’d like to know…

      ,no-ones radar, pre 9/11?

      Have I got that right

      Nothing whatsoever to do with OBL or Al Quaida.

      Sweet, mate, truly sweet.

      I think I’d have to viciously twist my ankle to allow that to be the meme of the day.

      Sorry, this was revenge, pure and simple.

      There was no economic motive, there was however a desire to strike out. Hurt someone.

    26. bananabrain — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:42 pm  

      so we just cut and paste our arguments now, do we? honestly, this guy sounds like the worst kind of student-radical twerp. he can’t even spell “journal”, for feck’s sake. or “article”. nor does he know how to use an apostrophe.

      “imperialists, imperialists everywhere”…

      b’shalom

      bananabrain

    27. S Johal — on 18th December, 2008 at 4:44 pm  

      Douglas, Comrade, has post it above

    28. Refresh — on 18th December, 2008 at 5:02 pm  

      Bananabrain, a little courtesy wouldn’t go amiss especially for newcomers.

      As for grammatical rectitude, I hardly care.

    29. douglas clark — on 18th December, 2008 at 5:51 pm  

      S Johal,

      Ah, I remember that comment now.

      I don’t think that proves your point though. What I was saying was that the reason for invading Afghanistan was about revenge. And that OBL and Al Quaida were the catalysts. (allied it has to be said with a PNAC view of the world in Washington.)

      If you are saying that they were just the necessary excuses for a pre-ordained invasion of Afghanistan I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    30. comrade — on 18th December, 2008 at 6:05 pm  

      so we just cut and paste our arguments now, do we? honestly, this guy sounds like the worst kind of student-radical twerp. he can’t even spell “journal”, for feck’s sake. or “article”. nor does he know how to use an apostrophe

      Maybe I haven’t had the education that you have had, so what if I can’t spell. I am not going to be intimidiated by arrogant bastards like you.

    31. JB86UK — on 20th December, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

      “The imperialist press and petty-bourgeois toadies of US imperialism refuse to recognise that the resistance in Afghanistan, as indeed in Iraq, represents the hearts and minds of the masses of the people, which is what make them unbeatable.”

      One of the major themes of ‘the anti-imperialists’ is their patriarchal attitude towards non-western countries and their peoples. Each country, or even region, has a monolithic opinion, which, coincidentally, matches exactly that of the writer.

      The second assumption is that military power is allocated to the more populous opinion groups. If there is limited military control in Afghanistan by NATO, or their ‘puppet regime’, then people who are opposed to the Taliban, or the armed group in their area, are unable to speak out against them. Equally, if groups such as the Taliban have been armed by the West, or by other affluent domestic or international interest groups, that doesn’t represent a fair allocation of power.

      “In my terms any people who are fighting the ocupation of their land are freedom fighters regardless of their Religous or politcal beliefs. We in the west call them terrorist.”

      It is undoubtedly the case that the American approach towards terrorism is childish, but you support an orthodoxy just as rigid, and just as out of touch with reality, if not more so. It is simplistic to automatically equate guerrilla warfare with civilian-targeted terrorism, but that applies whether you say both groups are universally bad or universally good.

      “It is a war waged by U.S. imperialism to monopolise the oil resources of the vast region stretching from the Middle East to the eastern republics of the former USSR. Further, it is a war to establish unchallenged U.S. dominance over all parts of the world.”
      “There was no economic motive, there was however a desire to strike out. Hurt someone.”

      Perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but these statements seem to be directly contradictory.

    32. comrade — on 23rd December, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

      JB86.UK

      I aplogies for not responding to your comments, the reason being work, its really busy this time of the year. But I strongly recommand that you watch IN SIDE STORY on Afganistan which was on Al Jazeera news channel last night, might answer some of your questions, if not all. Then re-read 6&18, is it all left wing mantras or more to the reality at ground level.

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