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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Responses to the propaganda published by Time


    by earwicga on 17th August, 2010 at 2:07 am    

    From a CIA memo published byWikileaks:

    Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

    Time did it’s duty last month by publishing a cover picture of Aisha, a young Afghan woman who has had her face mutilated by her family with the title ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan’ and an accompanying article by Aryn Baker.  The article details the horrific lives of Afghan women, 8 years after Team America decided to attack and occupy Afghanistan.  The irony of Team America’s failure to protect Aisha seems to be lost on Baker and Time.  Thankfully. Aisha has now been flown to Los Angeles for reconstruction work.  I’m not sure why she had to go that far considering India pioneered facial reconstruction which was documented in 600BC, but I am sure she will be well looked after.  

    Time’s propaganda has been much discussed and I’d like to quote from some of the best - all are well worth reading in their entirity.

    Nazish Brohi for the Dawn Blog

    The Time magazine cover has started a controversy that has already drawn hundreds of comments. The attention, however, has been not on the tagline but on Aisha’s photograph, whether it was exploitative or shockingly violent or desensitising. How about asking these very questions about the occupation?

    While Aisha’s picture conjectures what happens if they leave, in effect, emotional blackmail for supporting the war offensive, another photograph of a woman torn apart by bomb shrapnel, bleeding to death while in her wedding dress could be captioned: “What Happens if They Stay.”

    Ann Jones for The Nation:

    I heard Aisha’s story from her a few weeks before the image of her face was displayed all over the world. She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn’t figure at all in this account. The Time story, however, attributes Aisha’s mutilation to a husband under orders of a Talib commander, thereby transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power. Profoundly traumatized, Aisha might well muddle her story, but what excuses reporters who seem to inflate the role of the Taliban with every repetition of the case? Some reports have Aisha “sentenced” by a whole Taliban “jirga.”

    Negah Rahmani for The Zeitgeist Politics:

    What’s worse is that articles like these fail to recognise that perhaps the presence of U.S and its allies has had a detrimental effect on women’s rights and have set the feminist movement at least a decade back. Povey, one of the most cited academics in the field of Afghanistan concluded in her 2004 paper that the Western ‘pre-packaged’ idea of improved women’s rights have failed to recongnise what Afghan women had achieved throughout the Taliban regime. She writes of an underground feminist movement that was spread throughout the country where women were putting their lives at risk to defy some of the Taliban’s harshest rules. Every single woman interviewed by her admitted to have partaken in income-generating activities. Most were teaching girls or were sending their daughters to make-shift schools. Women formed a large network and despite the circumstances had created, in essence, a social movement that had incredible potential and affected real, grassroots change for the women by the women.

    John Gorenfeld for the New York Observer:

    But there was more than a question mark missing from the Time story, which stressed potentially disastrous consequences if the U.S. pursues negotiations with the Taliban. The piece lacked a crucial personal disclosure on Baker’s part: Her husband, Tamim Samee, an Afghan-American IT entrepreneur, is a board member of an Afghan government minister’s $100 million project advocating foreign investment in Afghanistan, and has run two companies, Digistan and Ora-Tech, that have solicited and won development contracts with the assistance of the international military, including private sector infrastructure projects favored by U.S.-backed leader Hamid Karzai.

    In other words, the Time reporter who wrote a story bolstering the case for war appears to have benefited materially from the NATO invasion.

    Just imagine how different Afghanistan would be today if all the money that has been spent on killing Afghans had instead been used for funding RAWA.


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    1. sunny hundal

      Blog post:: Responses to the propaganda published by Time http://bit.ly/aYKiTJ


    2. earwicga

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blog post:: Responses to the propaganda published by Time http://bit.ly/aYKiTJ


    3. Amir Rashid

      Pickled Politics » Responses to the propaganda published by Time http://goo.gl/GZRI Free press in USA, really?… self-censorship then?


    4. leninology

      Time magazine's propaganda: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/9635 <<imperial feminism in action: "humanising the ISAF role"…




    1. RickB — on 17th August, 2010 at 3:01 am  

      Also
      http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog/2010/08/the-real-story-behind-time’s-afghan-woman-cover-american-complicity/

      and
      http://www.alternet.org/story/147772/beautiful_women_used_to_obscure_the_horrors_of_war?page=entire

      In 1995 AI report WOMEN IN AFGHANISTAN- A human rights catastrophe
      http://www.rawa.org/ai-women.htm

      Covering the civil war era largely.

    2. earwicga — on 17th August, 2010 at 3:13 am  

      Cheers Rick.

    3. Sunny — on 17th August, 2010 at 4:33 am  

      Ahhh, but when have neo-cons actually listened to what feminists have to say earwicga? That’s the first mistake you make.

      The woman is only trotted out by these ‘Decent Left’ or the neo-cons when they can be used to support their objectives. Otherwise they are to be ignored.

      (for the record, I support staying in Afghanistan, just about, but thought the Time cover was tasteless exploitation).

    4. Boyo — on 17th August, 2010 at 6:51 am  

      I’m curious Earwicga - would you have preferred Afghanistan to be left under the Taliban? Do you think that would have been preferable to what’s happening now?

      Judging by this quote you use approvingly presumably you do:

      ‘Povey, one of the most cited academics in the field of Afghanistan concluded in her 2004 paper that the Western ‘pre-packaged’ idea of improved women’s rights have failed to recongnise what Afghan women had achieved throughout the Taliban regime.’

    5. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:01 am  

      Boyo,

      I am curious too. What did you mean by this:

      Povey, one of the most cited academics in the field of Afghanistan concluded in her 2004 paper that the Western ‘pre-packaged’ idea of improved women’s rights have failed to recongnise what Afghan women had achieved throughout the Taliban regime.

      What did they achieve, exactly?

      I’d have thought that - in this instance at least - feminism has much to say.

      Not do, obviously…

    6. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:14 am  

      BTW, I absolutely love the idea of a ‘cited academic’, so I do.

      Get a grip.

      There are ‘worlds’ leading experts’ on the subject.

      You, for instance, or Brownie.

      I am pretty sure that you are arguementing from some sort of absurdum, but I can’t remember which….

      Probably spurious authority, or some such…

      You are really annoying! I had to check that out on this internet thingy.

    7. KB Player — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:29 am  

      I know sod-all about feminist movements in Aghanistan, but I did wonder about this from Nehgah Rhamani:-

      “What’s worse is that articles like these fail to recognise that perhaps the presence of U.S and its allies has had a detrimental effect on women’s rights and have set the feminist movement at least a decade back. Povey, one of the most cited academics in the field of Afghanistan concluded in her 2004 paper that the Western ‘pre-packaged’ idea of improved women’s rights have failed to recongnise what Afghan women had achieved throughout the Taliban regime. She writes of an underground feminist movement that was spread throughout the country where women were putting their lives at risk to defy some of the Taliban’s harshest rules. Every single woman interviewed by her admitted to have partaken in income-generating activities. Most were teaching girls or were sending their daughters to make-shift schools. Women formed a large network and despite the circumstances had created, in essence, a social movement that had incredible potential and affected real, grassroots change for the women by the women.*

      This sounds very odd. Why should this women’s movement cease because it doesn’t have to be underground any more, presumably, when the Taliban was removed from power? If anything, without women being under house arrest, and with far more freedom of movement, you would think it would flourish, and this “potential” organisation could flower in to actuality. If it was setting up “makeshift” schools it could then enjoy actual, real schools. The writer seems to be pointing out ways that women had of coping - as people do in any repressive society, like samizdat literature under Communism - and turning that into an actual political movement (or at least a “potential” one). Though women enjoyed no “rights” they were engaged in activities - and activities are quite a different thing from “rights” (and all honour to them for taking the risks they did).

      However, the writer of that piece used the word “orientalism” which always makes me suspicious.
      (For my take on “orientialism vs. feminism” see here.)

      http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/anti-orientalist-meets-western-feminist/

    8. johng — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:29 am  

      I think the progress under the Taliban regime referred to the development of feminist resistance inside Afghanistan (as the very next sentence goes on to explain). But such is the lack of interest in the situation and struggles of women in Afghanistan (as opposed to arguments defending the US and coalition presence in the country) that apparently its impossible for you even to read the sentence.

    9. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:45 am  

      Sunny @ 3,

      ‘tasteless exploitation’?

      There are numerous examples of women being victims of Taliban ideas of gender in Afghanistan. None of which are ‘nice’.

      It is their disgrace.

      What is a western liberal supposed to make of it?

      It didn’t start with the invasion, it has always been the case. Women are treated as cattle in that culture, and several others in the Middle East.

      Either that is ‘wrong’ and subject to our contempt, as I always thought it was, something I thought we agreed on, or you are joining the moral relativist tribe.

      Just saying, ’cause that’s how it looks here, and I know that is not what you think.

      Could you get it through your head that us liberals do not like that aspect of some Eastern cultures? It is completely knee-jerk to pretend that there is an ‘otherwise’ case to be made.

      As you apparently do with this:

      The woman is only trotted out by these ‘Decent Left’ or the neo-cons when they can be used to support their objectives. Otherwise they are to be ignored.

      I do not ‘trot out’ women - chance would be a fine thing - and I certainly don’t ignore them. It is ludicrous to argue against what earwicga is saying on some sort of geopolitical basis rather than the, more simple, basis of human rights. Which I’d have thought earwicga was arguing for, from her feminist position right enough. But that doesn’t make her wrong and you right.

      Some of my best friends wear skirts :-)

    10. johng — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:09 am  

      I’m interested in this term ‘western’ liberal. What about ‘non-western’ liberals (who probably out-number western liberals by about five to one and are probably much more interested and knowledgeable about these questions then the ‘western liberal’). Why is the position of ‘western’ liberals of any particular interest here? How do they even figure in the discussion? Now I’m not a liberal personally. I’m a socialist. But some of my best friends are liberals etc. And none of them are greatly concerned about the sensibility of ‘western’ liberals. Why should they give a toss what ‘western’ liberals think (as opposed to the question of how they might achieve more liberal societies as opposed to bombed out wreaks which apparently appease the self-identifying ‘western liberal’s’ sense of themselves. Who on earth do you people think you are?

    11. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:10 am  

      johng @ 8,

      Would you care to answer my points @ 9?

      It seems to me to be verging on stupid to assume that the unholy mess of womens’ rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere - none whatsoever - can only be answered by resistance by them to trial by a male hierarchy, which appears to be what you are saying.

      Are sisters supposed to to it entirely by themselves?

      It seems completely pointless to me to have invaded a country and not to have imposed some moral values on it. But neocons haven’t a moral value in their heads, nor do our friends who signed the Euston Manifesto….

      Just saying.

    12. Lucy — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:15 am  

      Oh the smart money, the realpolitik, is on the ‘sensible’ solution - let the war continue because we can take coy snapshots of a beautiful Afghan woman with every hair in place and her nose cut off.
      All we need do is ship Aisha to the USA, have her magnificently reconstructed and grateful and continue as we have been doing, safe in the knowledge that we are doing the right thing.

      ‘Who is the fairest of them all’, children, Snow White - who was given a free Barbie doll to play with and came over to the USA - or the Wicked Stepmother Tallie Ban? The choice is yours, kiddies.

      Should we continue murdering Afghan civilians? This thread op topic, as I read it, is for supporting and recognising the resistance, not for supporting (a)what is not a solution to begin with, and (b) is never sustained. That is the ‘real’ realpolitik.

      The point is not ‘who is listening’ (or who is listening to feminists), but what we do to lessen our damage-making in that country, which is extreme. No rosy picture needs to be painted of what will happen if US/NATO pulls out. It will include right wing Islamist war lords in addition to the Taliban. That is the power structure reinforced by US/UK cold war encroachment into Afghanistan and there is no sign that the invaders have the will or capacity to change this, whether we would ‘like’ it to be different or not. Other thoughts may be entertained, but they are sheer fantasy.

      However, there is every reason to grasp a little bit of historical memory and acknowledge that it is left and liberal support for the various invading forces, whether they be Russian, US or British, that has brought us - or, more accurately - brought the Afghan people to where they are now - to the maiming and devastation of their lands and society. How utterly ruinous do we want that devastation to be is our only remaining question.

      We should withdraw. Since Obama came into office, US foreign policy has become more and more militarised, not less (though more contracted and concealed).
      …Mujahadeen, Taliban, Islamist fundamentalists …that is what the West supports - even though from time to time it is forced to turn against some of those same forces that were previously unleashed. But our occupying forces will not fight and die for women’s rights and they have never done so.

      Did ‘Time’ come out with a cover of a mutilated woman when Hillary was in Kabul - embarrassing her into making a statement about it? No. They waited until she left. It is ridiculous to think that occupying Afghanistan means women’s rights are ‘on the table’.

      It is not how women’s rights have been won - anywhere.

      The occupiers will not even protect most women’s ears and noses, let alone their lives, which - (it needs to be kept rigidly in mind while despising the Taliban and their like) - we, too, have taken in large numbers. And we have encouraged the taking of lives both by our invasion and by the after effects of the destruction we have wrought, not just in this war, but in the previous ‘cold’ war climate where it was fought by the US supporting Islamist proxies to make sure they won out amongst the nationally resisted Russian invasion.

      Our killing of innocents has not been done by mistake, as has been suggested, but by the methods of warfare - which are not a ‘mistake’. They are what we do. We are there, making war not peace. But how is this war of benefit to Afghanistan? Who is kidding whom with this ‘Time’ covered fairy tale?

    13. johng — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:20 am  

      Any project for creating more liberal societies requires some kind of project of social transformation. And any project of social transformation implies some sympathy or understanding for the objects of that transformation, and not merely coercion. What is paradoxical about the western liberal is that he pretends great concern about the plight of those living in semi-feudal conditions but on the other hand regards any enquiry or knowledge about these conditions which might lead to successful programs of action as distasteful or treasonous. Or to put it another way any route towards an understanding of the situation of human beings and how things actually are with them which might lead to methods of dialogue and transformation (ie what historically were sometimes called social reform movements) as in some sense a block on that transformation. Transformation without dialogue in other words. He then invents meaningless epithets like ‘cultural relativism’ to abuse those actually concerned with social transformation as opposed to justifying the sordid foreign policy adventures which, for the western liberal, have replaced the agency of ordinary people. As I said my difference in principle with liberalism is the nature of that social transformation and what it has to be. My difference with self-defined western liberalism is that they are not really liberals. Theirs is just a curious kind of self-interested identity politics, which whilst not involving cultural relativism, insists that we return to the notion of cultural hierarchies (fish and chips is the best kind of supper) and denounces everyone who does not subscribe to the use of aerial ordinance as a suitable vehicle of social transformation as a cultural relativist.

    14. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:23 am  

      johng,

      Cool. I suppose a liberal is a liberal wherever they come from. That was hardly my point, was it johng?

      You say:

      As opposed to the question of how they might achieve more liberal societies as opposed to bombed out wreaks which apparently appease the self-identifying ‘western liberal’s’ sense of themselves. Who on earth do you people think you are?

      I think we are liberals, whether we come from East or West, North or South.

      And most of us do not agree with bombing folk. You OK with that?

      Perhaps you have been fooled into assuming that ‘liberal interventionism’ equals ‘liberalism’, johng.

      Or perhaps you are just looking for an arguement where none exists?

      Wouldn’t be the first time….

    15. MaidMarian — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:30 am  

      earwicga (and Lucy) - You kind of miss the other question. Implicit in all this is that there is a trade off between staying in Afghanistan, and having women mutilated (over-simplified I know).

      What if the balance is that women come second to getting out of Afghanistan?

    16. MaidMarian — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:32 am  

      douglas clark - ‘And most of us do not agree with bombing folk. You OK with that?’

      A lot of us didn’t agree with Balkan ethnic cleansing either and felt that intervention to stop it was, on balance right - You OK with that?

      [Cue Serb apologists]

    17. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:33 am  

      Lucy @ 12,

      You say:

      The occupiers will not even protect most women’s ears and noses, let alone their lives, which – (it needs to be kept rigidly in mind while despising the Taliban and their like) – we, too, have taken in large numbers. And we have encouraged the taking of lives both by our invasion and by the after effects of the destruction we have wrought, not just in this war, but in the previous ‘cold’ war climate where it was fought by the US supporting Islamist proxies to make sure they won out amongst the nationally resisted Russian invasion.

      Can I take issue with this?

      we, too, have taken in large numbers

      Just to tease this comment out a bit, do you mean in Afghanistan, or do you mean more generally?

    18. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:39 am  

      MaidMarian,

      It will annoy you I know, but I actually know nothing, zero, ziltch about the break up of Yugoslavia. So you could be completely right or completely wrong.

      In the words of some band, ‘I got stoned and I missed it…’

      Ever missed a world shaking event and wondered afterwards why people keep referring to it all the time? Well, Yugoslavia is it for me…

      Went to a few it’s constituent bits a few years ago. Seemed peaceful enough to me.

    19. MaidMarian — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:44 am  

      douglas clark - Fair enough.

      It’s just that I keep hearing this glib projection of guilt (like Lucy) and this absolutist view about, ‘we don’t like bombing.’ It’s just that the world is not that simple.

      Serb ethnic cleansers, islamic fundamentalists - asking nicely is not goint to make these people subscribe to your peacenik world view. I don’t LIKE bombing, no none likes it, except for the fanatics. And I am sure that Lucy may treat us to some moral equivalence about how democratically elected leaders and the Taliban are in fact one and the same.

      It’s jusst that liberal intervention, for all its many faults is not something I can denounce always and everywhere. If this was 1940, PP would probably be full of comments telling me that appeasement rules.

    20. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:54 am  

      Johng,

      I think I am on record as agreeing with the R2P philosophy. The responsibility to protect idea. But that has a very high hurdle before it can be invoked.

      Frankly, I think that that is a good liberal principle, the concept that nations can do whatever they like within their own borders seems utterly bankrupt to me. However, Iraq in particular has put that idea on the back burner for a heck of a long time.

      Because idiotic neo-cons co-opted it for their own purposes and buggered up an ideal.

      Which is how the forces of darkness operate, imho.

      Bastards, the lot of them.

      They take what is good, in principle, and they corrupt it in practice.

    21. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 10:59 am  

      Johng

      1940?

      You some sort of Yank pulling my chain?

      WW2 started in 1939.

      I hate Americans that define WW2 from the date they decided to get off their arses and join in….

      BTW, we declared war on Japan before you did.

    22. Shamit — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:01 am  

      Maidmarian - spot on.

      “Peace for our time” seems to be contagious.

      Appeasing Taliban and letting their brutal regime come back with a moral victory over NATO forces would further destabilise the world’s most dangerous region.

      Taliban + ISI + Al Qaeda - now do you really want to provide a safe harbour for terrorists?

      I agree though that development is key - and in the past 8 years please look at the number of schools, hospitals and roads that have been built. Look at the number of women who have graduated and are working as professionals. Look at the infrastructure development that has taken place with aid from various countries.

      Development can only happen if there is security - that is key.

      And, realpolitk, is about national interest and security. No US President wants to leave a war unfinished - they remember Johnson and Nixon. If you lose a war you lose the election. so, no change in course at least until 2012 November.

    23. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:13 am  

      Shamit,

      Which bit of MaidMarians ideas are ‘spot on’?

      MaidMarian is all over the shop on Afghanistan, I think.

      He, kind of, agrees with me that we ought to be trying to liberalise that society. It is just that he seems to be saying you can do that with bombs.

      Do you think that that is right?

      Perhaps if you bomb wedding parties and the like with drones then there will be no children born and you could take over a naked land. Would that count as success in the neo-con mind set?

      There is no realpolitik left in Afghanistan. It is a ghastly mess, compounded by the lack of intelligence on the part of G W Bush, who must have known he’d win and had nowt of a strategy for winning the peace. Something the ignorant loser went on to repeat in Iraq.

      It is that person, G W Bush, that is only second in my pantheon of hateful leaders to her. Talk about fooling most of the people most of the time? The guy was a masterclass in duplicity.

    24. platinum786 — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:36 am  

      The chance to win in Afghanistan was straight after the invasion. Big money should have been thrown into development and the government which was setup should have been representative of the real power in Afghanistan.

      The Pukhtun tribes remain unrepresented in the corridors of power in Kabul, they should have been put at centre stage. They are the source which the Taliban derive it’s power from, that is where the fighters come from, they are the people who’s mountains they shelter in, unharmed.

      Also the “moderate” (and I use the term loosely) Taliban should have been bought into the fold. People you approach today with offers of peace and power, you should have approached when they didn’t have the upper hand. These guys might not be savour characters, and they wouldn’t make the human rights situation in Afghanistan any better, but neither has the government you back now, which recently legalised marital rape. At least these types would put the interests of Afghanistan ahead of the interests of Al Queda. You also make a big mistake hunting men like Hekmatyar. They aren’t the Taliban, they aren’t Al Queda, they’re warlords, powerful pukhtun warlords who probably didn’t want to pick a fight with NATO, if left alone.

      Instead you rewarded your ethnic minority warlord, drug runnning buddies, the likes of Dostum and Karzai.
      What did you expect? Aid money all going into personal coffers, human rights abuses, revenge killings during the invasion, do you think that would be overlooked and forgotten?

      At that time, even the ISI may have been willing to come on board if it felt the new Afghan government wouldn’t threaten it’s interests.

      The worst possible choice of government was chosen, one which was incompetent, unrepresentative, you may as well have put a white man in charge, and one which none of the neighbours approved of, especially Pakistan. The neocons got carried away because they thought sweeping away a militia made them the biggest bad-est war-machine in all time.

      Now Afghanistan is going to go to the dogs again.

    25. boyo — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:39 am  

      I await E’s response. My question was not entirely mischevious - I’m geneuinely interested. Having read a little background on this my thoughts are developing thus:

      - It is quite fair to remove the cloak of women’s rights from what was initially a purely military adventure (justified imop)
      - Women’s rights such as they are should also not be used to justify continued presence (unless this is backed up by a true commitment, which it is not)
      - However it is equally spurious to claim a form of “feminism” under the Taliban. “Feminism” (the irony is you or Povey cannot see this) is a purely Western construct
      - What E is championing is actually “culturalism”
      - It is a circle that cannot really be squared, as the absurdity of the sentence “feminism because of the Taliban” illustrates.

    26. Lucy — on 17th August, 2010 at 11:43 am  

      Hmmmn. Here is video that asks the question: “Where are the 18 billion dollars invested by the international community to rebuild Afghanistan, develop schools, construct hospitals and eradicate the …”

      Afghanistan, on the Dollar Trail (English version)
      http://vimeo.com/9388088
      ============================
      See David Edgar’s ‘The Black Tulip’ re some of the problems with top down development (within Part Two, the Great Game, Tricycle Theatre, Kilburn, London - week and a half left.)

    27. MaidMarian — on 17th August, 2010 at 12:06 pm  

      douglas clark - ‘He, kind of, agrees with me that we ought to be trying to liberalise that society. It is just that he seems to be saying you can do that with bombs.’

      No - I think that Afghanistan is a nut-house and, ‘we,’ (whatever that means) should leave the locals to go merrily about the business of killing each other if it means that much.

      This whole idea of, ‘hearts and minds,’ was utter nonsense. These people are not going to suddenly change their entire outlook. Try, ‘The Sun in the Sky,’ by Matt Waldman (should be on google) for a good idea of how I think Afghanistan should be viewed.

    28. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 12:38 pm  

      MaidMarian @ 27,

      Well yes, I suppose. Sorry if I was ascribing motives to you that you don’t actually have. What I meant by ‘we’ was all us liberals on the planet that no-one listens to because they are all real politik in your face warmongers. Y’know, ‘us’, rather than ‘we’, maybe. I think there is a global constituency of folk like me, but I could be wrong about that. Certainly seems I am wrong on the internet, most of the time.

      Still and all, half the population of Afghanistan is of the female variety. It seems to me that there is a case to be made, although very few ‘serious’ politicians seem interested in it, to argue that the least we could do for Afghanistan, after having completely and royally fucked up, is to leave it a bit better than when we went in. Seems to me we just want to ‘cut and run’ now.

      I was, am, convinced that ‘The West’ was right to invade Afghanistan, just as I am convinced that it was wrong to invade Iraq. One was a clear affront to ‘us’ - see, I used that word again - and the other wasn’t.

      Taking on the latter war was a step too far, imho. We should have ‘sorted’ Afghanistan before we did anything else. A bit like we ‘sorted’ Japan. And that didn’t take five minutes..

      I’ll certainly check out the link you gave, for my ideas are not set in stone…

    29. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 1:04 pm  

      Oh, for fucks sake MaidMarian!

      Am I supposed to get by ‘endogenous’ and assume the person isn’t a wank?

    30. earwicga — on 17th August, 2010 at 1:29 pm  

      Spot on platinum & Lucy.

      Why should this women’s movement cease because it doesn’t have to be underground any more, presumably, when the Taliban was removed from power?

      Shows the height of ignorance. Keep swallowing up the propaganda that so obviously keeps you feeling safe in your bed of a night.

      And yes Sunny, MFIF!

    31. johng — on 17th August, 2010 at 1:57 pm  

      But you miss the point Douglas. I know many completely sincere liberals in a part of the world I know middling well: India (where I also happen to be staying at the moment). There is a long tradition of grappling with questions of social reform in societies which are semi-feudal, backward or whathaveyou, and how you can try and make progress when you can offer very little in the ways of material incentives. It might be an idea to find out about, learn from, and think about the lessons of that. The ‘western liberal’ thing is I think significant because its a recently popularised term in the culture wars going on in western countries about interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan (a cultural argument which I believe has by contrast very little to teach those actually struggling to build better societies in those parts of the world under discussion any more then smart bombing does). The jargonised acronyms (RTP lol) which have become a substitute for thinking within those narrow circles who have suddenly decided they are global is represented as a universal expansion of some kind, but I believe is little but deep parochialism. Of course you can carry on with this liberalism lite stuff, which produces little more then dumbed down courses in liberal philosophy in western universities, but if you actually believe it represents in any sense a discussion which your liberal compatriots in other parts of the world would be in the least bit interested in, I think your mistaken. One feels like using that great old phrase; ‘you just don’t get it do you?’.

    32. KB Player — on 17th August, 2010 at 2:14 pm  

      Earwicga - enlighten my ignorance. Spell it out.

    33. joe90 — on 17th August, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

      The quote from dawn blog says it all.

      “While Aisha’s picture conjectures what happens if they leave, in effect, emotional blackmail for supporting the war offensive, another photograph of a woman torn apart by bomb shrapnel, bleeding to death while in her wedding dress could be captioned: “What Happens if They Stay.”

      wikileaks exposed a much higher number of civilian casualties by the coalition forces. It was then attacked by the usual suspects, for what i see as a diversion for allegedly putting informant lives at risk. The CIA quoted as saying horrific stories like aisiha and afghan women are media opportunities!!!! just makes me even more cynical.

    34. platinum786 — on 17th August, 2010 at 2:39 pm  

      The people of Afghan deserve better than the Taliban and the people currently in charge. They deserved better than being the punching bag of the USA post 911 and they deserve better than being the pawns in the great game between the CIA and the ISI and RAW, each of whom work for their own best interests, not those of the Afghan people.

    35. Marie S — on 17th August, 2010 at 2:52 pm  

      “Thankfully. Aisha has now been flown to Los Angeles for reconstruction work. I’m not sure why she had to go that far considering India pioneered facial reconstruction which was documented in 600BC”

      What a crass, pointless, snide comment.

    36. Sunny — on 17th August, 2010 at 3:13 pm  

      As I said earlier - it’s important we try and sort out Afghanistan.

      But the idea that we’re in Afghanistan to help women is sadly an illusion.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/04/afghanistan-withdraw

    37. boyo — on 17th August, 2010 at 3:39 pm  

      which is what i said earlier, however, lest we forget…

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/16/taliban-couple-stoned-afghanistan

    38. boyo — on 17th August, 2010 at 3:52 pm  

      Indeed its funny that to my Orientalist mind at least the Taliban personify violence and oppression against women (well, at least i suppose their stoning policy is equal opportunities, as Earwicga would be the first to argue, alongside its Green credentials most probably - at least the Taliban use recycled materials for their executions!) when what is considered a far more advanced society regularly condemns women to a similar fate.

      http://hurryupharry.org/2010/08/17/they-think-they-can-do-anything-to-women-in-this-country/

      Yet I know people who cheerfully boycott Israel who are currently booking their hols to Iran and are avid watchers of Press TV.

      Funny old world.

    39. Soso — on 17th August, 2010 at 4:44 pm  

      It is utter horsewhit to catagorise this as propaganda.

      Several years back PBS ran a documentaryabout the mistreatment of women in Pakistan. In it the plight of women ( and sometimes disobediant men) was highlighted, and there were many, MANY images similar to the one of the cover of Time.

      The documentary was shown several times and it was narrated by a noted pro-Bush, neo-con, warmonger.

      Susan Sarandon.

      The author of this posting is just full of it. She hates The West far, FAR more than she could ever support womens rights.

      And you know, women’s rights aren’t subject to cultural relativism; they are universal in nature, and to deny that universality is to imply that some women are more equal than others.

      2+2 =’s 4 whether you’re in Pakistan or Pittsburg.

    40. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 4:50 pm  

      johng @ 31,

      Well, I suppose you are there or thereabouts. Why should that give you an especial insight?

      Anyways, you said this:

      The ‘western liberal’ thing is I think significant because its a recently popularised term in the culture wars going on in western countries about interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan (a cultural argument which I believe has by contrast very little to teach those actually struggling to build better societies in those parts of the world under discussion any more then smart bombing does). The jargonised acronyms (RTP lol) which have become a substitute for thinking within those narrow circles who have suddenly decided they are global is represented as a universal expansion of some kind, but I believe is little but deep parochialism.

      You do recognise that I detest these people? Am I not the one that has said that RTP has been fucked up by idiots?

      I think I did.

      A decent (oh, bloody hell, every word has been subsumed by some leftish cult, can we just assume it is what it says it is on the tin) position is not nationalistic, it is universal.

      So, johng, I am advocating a universal idea of RTP, not some sort of selfish Eurocentric crap.

      It seems to me that liberals in India would support the notion, just as much as liberals elsewhere. It is not about imperialism, nor the rape of the world by the West. It is about something different, and you may fear the homogoneity it might cause, but if you do, you should at least reflect on the possibilty that your creed keeps women in their ‘place’ and R2P does not.

      I think I know which is a noble cause and which isn’t.

      Just saying, johng….

    41. Phil Hunt — on 17th August, 2010 at 4:50 pm  

      @3: The woman is only trotted out by these ‘Decent Left’ or the neo-cons when they can be used to support their objectives.

      You’re right; there are plenty of people who don’t actually give a shit about the plight of women in Afghasnistan using this as an argument. (A good test might be: do they equally care about women in Gaza?)

      Having said that, it’s still true that the Taliban are a nasty bunch of shits who make the dark ages look enlightened. If they win in Afghanistan, and use it to take over Pakistan, thus gaining control of nukes, the world will be a much worse place.

    42. Sunny — on 17th August, 2010 at 4:53 pm  

      Having said that, it’s still true that the Taliban are a nasty bunch of shits who make the dark ages look enlightened. If they win in Afghanistan, and use it to take over Pakistan, thus gaining control of nukes, the world will be a much worse place.

      Yup - and that’s about the only argument that can be made in this case.

      The pretence of people like boyo, that somehow earwicga is trying to cosy up to the Taliban, is beyond contempt.

    43. douglas clark — on 17th August, 2010 at 5:13 pm  

      boyo @ 38,

      Do you think there is anyone that posts here that thinks that is OK?

      I’d have thought not.

      You are somewhat of a sick bunnie, I’d have thought…

    44. Don — on 17th August, 2010 at 5:35 pm  

      earwicga,

      Shows the height of ignorance.

      I’d also like to hear a more detailed answer to what seemed a reasonable question.

    45. platinum786 — on 17th August, 2010 at 5:36 pm  

      If they win in Afghanistan, and use it to take over Pakistan, thus gaining control of nukes, the world will be a much worse place.

      That’s not going to happen. Reasons;

      1. Pakistan has a 500,000 man army.

      2. The Pakistani state is not an occupying force in Pakistan, it is Pakistan, it is the people of Pakistan. The reason the Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan is because they draw support from the population, against a military force which is not made of the population and against a government which is not representative of the population.

      3.

    46. Kellie Strøm — on 17th August, 2010 at 5:42 pm  

      From the main post: “Just imagine how different Afghanistan would be today if all the money that has been spent on killing Afghans had instead been used for funding RAWA.”

      Excuse me? Money spent killing Afghans? You know who has killing Afghans as their primary aim, and it’s not ISAF. And yet you rant about propaganda. Contemptible.

      http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/2010/08/who-is-killing-afghan-civilians-reality.html

    47. Kellie Strøm — on 17th August, 2010 at 5:46 pm  

      platinum786, your view of popular support for the Taliban is mistaken. Read this:

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8448930.stm

    48. Phil Hunt — on 17th August, 2010 at 6:53 pm  

      @45 Platinum786: [the Taliban won't take over Pakistan because] Pakistan has a 500,000 man army

      Irrelevant, because in the right circumstances, ideas can beat armies. A hundred years ago, Tsar Nikolai II had the biggest army in the world, but it didn’t do him much good when he came up against an idea whose time had come.

      The Pakistani state is not an occupying force in Pakistan, it is Pakistan, it is the people of Pakistan. The reason the Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan is because they draw support from the population

      The Pakistani Taliban is and would be mostly made up of Pakistanis, with logistic support from the Afghan Taliban.

    49. Marie S — on 17th August, 2010 at 8:37 pm  

      “The pretence of people like boyo, that somehow earwicga is trying to cosy up to the Taliban, is beyond contempt.”

      Earwicga’s begrudging comment about how the woman should have gone to India, and for the reason given, is what is truly bizarre and contemptible.

      “But the idea that we’re in Afghanistan to help women is sadly an illusion.”

      The germane question is whether more women will be better off in a Taliban-run NATO-free country, or in one where NATO is still there and the Taliban do not rule.

      If women in general are not better off than otherwise with NATO there, then that is a strong argument against Time on this point. If they are in general better off with NATO there, then your carping about impure motives is just so much irrelevant ideological narcissism. If women are in gneral heled by the presence of NATO, then that alone is a point in favour of NATO remaining, regardless of NATO’s own motives.

      A positive is no less a positive for being a side-effect, a secondary consideration, or even a pure accident. Unless you place the importance on personal motive before physical reality, with a the luxury of theological snobs and do-nothings since time immemorial.

    50. KB Player — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:27 pm  

      Don @ 44:- yeah, I meant it as a reasonable question, and I also meant to ask it politely. It’s disconcerting (though not surprising from this particular blogger) to have it answered like a gross insult.

    51. boyo — on 17th August, 2010 at 9:56 pm  

      Sunny I asked specific questions of Earwicga way up this thread to which she did not respond (she’s obviously learning from you) - her typically insinuating, sneering tone and choice of quotes certainly implies a vehement anti-westernism and approval of life under the Taliban. I therefore do not believe it is “beyond contempt” - you’re just doing your usual trick of when she gets out of her depth defending her. She may well be young and niave etc, but she is a contributor to your blog, so she should be able to stand up for herself.

    52. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2010 at 2:43 am  

      boyo @ 51,

      Sunny I asked specific questions of Earwicga way up this thread to which she did not respond (she’s obviously learning from you) – her typically insinuating, sneering tone and choice of quotes certainly implies a vehement anti-westernism and approval of life under the Taliban. I therefore do not believe it is “beyond contempt” – you’re just doing your usual trick of when she gets out of her depth defending her. She may well be young and niave etc, but she is a contributor to your blog, so she should be able to stand up for herself.

      No, you didn’t. You posted this mince @ 38:

      Indeed its funny that to my Orientalist mind at least the Taliban personify violence and oppression against women (well, at least i suppose their stoning policy is equal opportunities, as Earwicga would be the first to argue, alongside its Green credentials most probably – at least the Taliban use recycled materials for their executions!) when what is considered a far more advanced society regularly condemns women to a similar fate.

      http://hurryupharry.org/2010/08/17/they-think-they-can-do-anything-to-women-in-this-country/

      Yet I know people who cheerfully boycott Israel who are currently booking their hols to Iran and are avid watchers of Press TV.

      Funny old world.

      Which I challenged you on @ 43. To which you chose silence as your reponse.

      Anyway, anyhow, anyone that quotes ‘Harrys Place’ is an idiot. These folk are beneath contempt…

    53. earwicga — on 18th August, 2010 at 2:58 am  

      Anyway, anyhow, anyone that quotes ‘Harrys Place’ is an idiot. These folk are beneath contempt…

      Never a truer word spoken.

    54. Sunny — on 18th August, 2010 at 3:22 am  

      Heh, I’m not sure about young and naive, that’s just a cheap jibe:

      her typically insinuating, sneering tone and choice of quotes certainly implies a vehement anti-westernism and approval of life under the Taliban.

      I know - I don’t like your tone, so I’ll just accuse you of wanting to bomb the hell out of innocent civilians. That’ll do wonders for the debate etc.

    55. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2010 at 4:23 am  

      It has always struck me that the Euston Manifesto troglodytes don’t actually care about much other than their ability to take reason apart in their search for an ‘argementun ad absurdum’.

      A knack they have got down to a tee.

      Or so it seems.

    56. earwicga — on 18th August, 2010 at 5:13 am  

      boyo - have a read of this document written in 1998 and let me know which parts you think I support: http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/documents/reports/talibans-war-on-women.pdf

    57. Lucy — on 18th August, 2010 at 7:43 am  

      re@55 @4.23 am

      Nor are they concerned about women’s rights. All that worries them is that the US and NATO are not criticised. Their answer is always along the lines of ‘I bet you think the Taliban are wonderful’. They are equivalent to the ‘good Germans’under the Third Reich that they themselves would despise…

    58. johng — on 18th August, 2010 at 7:45 am  

      Vehement ‘anti-westernism’ what is this? Douglas I don’t think knowing people from another part of the world gives any special privileges. In general though I’d suggest that some interest in what goes on in other parts of the world and being familiar with arguments and experiences in those parts of the world is the first responsibility of a genuinely universalist liberal. He or she can then happily move on to having deeply interesting arguments about their responsibility to intervene in it.

    59. douglas clark — on 18th August, 2010 at 8:16 am  

      johng @ 58,

      I take it that that is a response to my post @ 40?

      You called me out, rightly, on the issue of politics and geography. It was wrong of me to associate a creed like liberalism with a place.

      OK?

      But I do not see what further point you are making @ 58. The whole point about R2P is that it has extremely high hurdles before it can be invoked. One of which, if memory serves, is that ‘stuff’ has to be better afterwards than beforehand. Which, I would suggest would rule out both the Afghan invasion and certainly the Iraq invasion. It would also, in all likelyhood, stop warmongers from winning the arguement for bombing Iran.

      That is what has been dumped as a consequence of the so-called ‘decent’ left winning the arguement.

      We, the UK I mean, should apply the criteria of R2P to any conflict that the US invites us to attend. Seems to me. So should everyone else.

    60. saeed — on 18th August, 2010 at 10:35 am  

      i really think that people are getting sick of this decent left movement….they contribute NOTHING to debate

    61. boyo — on 18th August, 2010 at 11:47 am  

      Anyone have any solutions?

      I asked at 4. I tried to develop the debate at 5. I got bored later on and elicited the only kind of response possible here - the playground. It’s little wonder that the likes of Katy, Chairwoman, bananbrain and of course Sid are but memories. But then they are all “Zionist”, “Juice” scumbags, no?

      It’s ironic however that Saeed should say the “decent” left have nothing to contribute (not that I belong to them) when there is so little said here.

    62. Arif — on 18th August, 2010 at 12:09 pm  

      If foreign armies are in Afghanistan in order to protect women from patriarchal oppression, I suggest:

      1. The governments sending troops guarantee asylum to women fleeing socially sanctioned violence or oppression (as understood by those Governments - and it would be up to us to ensure our Governments clarify/widen the women’s rights they claim to be important).

      2. Ensuring that job opportunities created by the funds they provide for reconstruction, security etc have a 50% quota of being filled by men and women.

      3. Cooperating with anyone (including Taliban) in the Afghan Government who will cooperate with (1) and (2).

      In terms of Afghan sovereignty, the choice facing local administrations is whether they want overseas aid for economic development and overseas troops on such terms or not.

      I won’t pretend that this isn’t a colonial use/abuse of power, ignoring historical injustices and taking advantage of differential resources, technology, diplomatic and military positioning etc in order to dictate how others should live. I won’t deny that using such dynamics is just like using patriarchal means to gain our ends.

      But (like patriarchy?) it can be softened if it at least enables those being dominated to feel they can get something they want out of it as well.

      And if the eventual result is that half the women of Afghanistan end up in western Europe (any woman feeling pressured into wearing a niqab should make it into France!) it would probably be a cheaper and a less violent solution than the current one. It might also have a big impact on the power of women who remain in Afghanistan relative to the men there. Who knows?

      I admit I haven’t thought this through very deeply, but I want to understand what an intervention to promote women’s human rights would look like, because what we have surely is not it! The figleaf for not doing anything more effective seems to me to be Afghan sovereignty, but this is hardly respected in other matters.

      Note, I have also not suggested any overt form of cultural imperialism (such as the form and make-up of Afghan government or their laws), just a political commitment on asylum from other governments and some strings on economic aid which are extremely tame conditionalities compared to those required by the IMF, for example.

    63. Kellie Strøm — on 18th August, 2010 at 12:49 pm  

      Lauryn Oates has written an extensive response to the Ann Jones piece cited in this post.

      An excerpt:

      “…there is little evidence (besides the melodramatic speeches at anti-war rallies in the West of Malalai Joya) that Afghan women want to see the departure of NATO forces from Afghanistan.

      Progressive female MPs like Sabrina Saqeb, Fauzia Koofi and Shinkai Karokhail are adamant that a premature withdrawal would be disastrous. So are many other outspoken activists like Wazhma Frogh. In fact, these days not a day goes by that an Afghan woman is not quoted in a western news article expressing her anxiety over a premature withdrawal from the US and/or NATO in Afghanistan.”

      http://propagandistmag.com/2010/08/17/devils-and-demons-open-letter-ann-jones

    64. earwicga — on 18th August, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

      http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2010/08/women-rights-iran-ashtiani

      Laurie Penny ‘The west must not use women’s rights to justify war’

    65. boyo — on 18th August, 2010 at 4:16 pm  

      hold on earwicga, as a champion of afghan womens rights why do you cite a western woman over the authentic voices of afghan women?

    66. Kellie Strøm — on 18th August, 2010 at 4:25 pm  

      It’s alright Boyo, Laurie Penny quotes Malalai Joya who is of course the only Afghan woman in existence - we must pay no attention to any other voices.

    67. johng — on 18th August, 2010 at 11:06 pm  

      Sorry Douglas but I’m just a bit chary about handing the ‘right to protect’ to states which have a pretty dreadful record over the last fifty years (never mind previously) and think liberals should focus their mind on other areas of debate. This is not a particularly fruitful way of progressing the cause of human rights in the world. Quite how people got involved in the debate on R2P’ (a clue might lie in the jargon which seems designed for use by bureaucrats involved in international organizations on the one hand, and students mugging up on examinations on the other) and when this began to be seen as a crucial area of debate for those previously concerned with issues of solidarity with actually existing forces on the ground would probably be of some interest. I don’t think subjects like R2P are particularly gripping for most liberals in most countries in the world. A straw poll would probably demonstrate that most believe the one thing worse then their own regime is the prospect of military intervention.

    68. Kellie Strøm — on 19th August, 2010 at 8:10 am  

      johng: “A straw poll would probably demonstrate that most believe the one thing worse then their own regime is the prospect of military intervention.”

      You don’t need to imagine a poll in the case of Afghanistan, there are real polls you can read comparing views on the Taliban and on international forces. From the BBC 2009 Afghan Opinion Poll:

      Q10. Who would you rather have ruling Afghanistan today?
      Current government 82%
      Taliban 4%
      Other 10%
      No opinion 4%

      Q11. Which of the following do you think poses the biggest danger in our country?
      Taliban 58%
      Drug traffickers 13%
      Local commanders 7%
      United States 8%
      Current Afghan government 1%
      Something else 10%
      No opinion 3%

      Q17. From today’s perspective, do you think it was very good, mostly good, mostly bad or
      very bad that U.S. military forces came into our country to bring down the Taliban
      government in 2001?

      Very good 27%
      Mostly good 42%
      Mostly bad 12%
      Very bad 12%
      No opinion 7%

      http://afghanistan-canada-solidarity.org/resources

    69. Lucy — on 19th August, 2010 at 10:07 am  

      A little hard to swallow all the rosy optimism (of which the above BBC poll is only a small part) put out by CASC in light of Canada’s well documented - (in their online publication as well) - intention to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan in 2011 and its wish to “withdraw with honour and the heartfelt gratitude of Afghans and Canadians”http://afghanistan-canada-solidarity.org/casc-report-keeping-our-promises

      Is there the merest wrinkle in their reports indicating anything other than a glowing reference for Canada’s intervention, its support for that intervention and its current intentions?
      =====================
      As Patrick Cockburn points out it will be far more difficult for the US/NATO to withdraw from Afghanistan in the way that they (leaving 50,000 troops behind) did from Iraq claiming their ‘surge’ had worked, that it was an American military success in the end. “… it is the mythical success of the US troop “surge” in Iraq in 2007-08 which is being used as a template for US military policy in Afghanistan two years later. A strategy, which did not work in the way the Pentagon said it did in Iraq is now to be applied in Afghanistan where conditions are, in any case, entirely different. A danger is that the new American strategy will provoke the same mass slaughter in Afghanistan as happened in Iraq.” http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-us-surge-will-only-prolong-afghan-war-1835054.html). He also writes: “The US leadership is clearly divided on the merits of staying in Afghanistan, but cannot work out how to withdraw without too great a loss of face. It reached the same conclusion over Iraq, but there the situation was easier. The anti-US insurgents came from the Sunni community – which made up only 20 per cent of Iraqis – who were under intense pressure from the Shia government, the armed forces, militias and death squads. The insurgency in Afghanistan is drawn from the Pashtun community, 42 per cent of the population, and so far shows no sign of splitting.

      With Iraq, it was enough that US voters got the impression they had won. A retreat could be conducted with no US objectives achieved, but nobody could be accused of cutting and running. This was the achievement of General Petraeus, now the military commander in Afghanistan.

      But political and military conditions are wholly different there. Dressing up a withdrawal as some sort of success will be far more difficult in Afghanistan.” http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-unlike-iraq-dressing-retreat-up-as-success-will-be-difficult-2029420.html
      ==========
      Cockburn also reports (17 July 2010) the Human Rights Watch Report: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/leave-your-job-or-we-will-cut-your-head-off-your-body-2028706.html
      “‘Leave your job or we will cut your head off your body…’

      With violence on the rise, Afghan women are terrified at the prospect of a deal between President Karzai and the Taliban”
      =================
      Stephen Grey’s “Gangs of Kandahar” report for Channel 4 in May 2010 gives some disquieting indication of how local villagers view the local militias used in place of US/NATO to intervene in villages in the hunt for insurgents.
      “http://vodpod.com/watch/4247078-the-gangs-of-kandahar-the-citys-real-power

      ‘We can’t tell if they’re militia or taliban. the us is expanding the use of militias. creating the system of village militias just like the Russians did. Those militias were horrible and they mistreated people. They say everything they’re doing as the backing of the US government.’
      ==============================
      The Ralph Lopez piece referred to above by Rick @1 [on 'the real story behind the Times cover'] also contains a posting by an Afghan woman which is worth noting [ scroll down -http://rethinkafghanistan.com/blog/2010/08/the-real-story-behind-time%E2%80%99s-afghan-woman-cover-american-complicity/]:

      ” “In 1979, the CIA started secretly aiding opponents of the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, increasing the likelihood that the Soviet Union would be drawn into what Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski hoped would be ‘their own Vietnam’.”

      The CIA and Pakistani ISI were secretly supporting Hekmatyar. But there were many other groups who were rising up against the Soviet occupation who were not getting any aid. Just cause Brzezinski made his arrogant claim to the Afghan resistance does not erase the thousands who resisted and sacrificed their lives. STOP telling history from the POV of the elite!! Besides, this argument is bunk anyway, it’s not like the Afghan resistors were on Soviet land causing trouble within the USSR. The Soviets had no right to invade and kill Afghans just like the Americans have no right to.

      “The young socialist government, which had overthrown a centuries-old monarchy, was cosmopolitan, outward-looking, and stressed the education of women as well as men. This was a time when women in Kabul could wear mini-skirts.”

      WRONG!! Soviet backed communists were brutal and used authoritarian force, violence, persecution, etc to enforce themselves upon the people. And Afghans in Kabul were wearing mini skirts well before the Saur Revolution of 1978, not that mini skirts really say ANYTHING about the real emancipation of women, other than Western cultural imperialism.

      I am sick of how the American Left repeatedly white-washes the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. That paragraph is not only far from the truth but a disservice to the people of Afghanistan. In order to acknowledge the crimes committed against the people of Afghanistan, you cannot white-wash one foreign power (Soviet) over another (US). The Soviets may not have been a real thread to Americans in Ameican because there were conveniently so far away, but sitting from your privileged position does not mean you can dismiss the atrocities the Soviets committed towards our people. In doing so you are no different from those who defend America’s crimes towards the people of Afghanistan.”
      =================
      Nothing to rejoice in. But the calculations being made are not, it seems to me, going to do much for Afghan womanhood. There is no marshall plan, just a martial plan and the US is not going to provide jobs for life for the Afghan people. There is no way that is going to happen. Tent cities in the US, reluctance to extend unemployment benefits beyond three months in the US….etc., etc., etc. The ideal is not going to happen.

    70. boyo — on 19th August, 2010 at 12:01 pm  

      “A little hard to swallow all the rosy optimism…”

      Yes, I can imagine how real Afghans contradicting your pathological self-loathing must stick in the throat.

      “not that mini skirts really say ANYTHING about the real emancipation of women, other than Western cultural imperialism.”

      Pathetic.

    71. joe90 — on 19th August, 2010 at 1:41 pm  

      With trillion dollar estimate of mineral resources and a huge oil field being discovered in Afghanistan, and the caspian opening up its mineral treasures to the world. Looks like the US is going to do everything it can to reap the rewards, i mean protect the poor afghan women my bad!

    72. Kellie Strøm — on 19th August, 2010 at 3:06 pm  

      joe90, there’s rather a lot of Turkmenistan between Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea, so I’m not sure what you have in mind.

      As for Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, the most immediate foreign beneficiary is certain to be China, which has the money to spend exploiting it, and the market to use it, and of course it has a land border with Afghanistan. China is already investing in copper mining and other projects in Afghanistan. Iran would also be well placed to benefit if political and economic conditions there were to change.

      The US is obviously not in a good position to benefit as Afghanistan has no sea ports, and none of its neighbors can be regarded as reliable long term allies of the US.

      If you’re worried about economic imperialism in Afghanistan, then the best chance of defending against it is through strengthening democracy and the rule of law there, not campaigning against US involvement.

    73. Lucy — on 19th August, 2010 at 4:11 pm  

      @70 ??? ‘“not that mini skirts really say ANYTHING about the real emancipation of women, other than Western cultural imperialism.”

      Pathetic.’

      ?What are you doing Boyo? - that [above]that you highlighted is a quote from an Afghan woman who posted to the blog referred to. Had you read the item carefully you would have known. …And why the gratuitous insult? Who is making you suffer so much?

    74. Boyo — on 19th August, 2010 at 7:21 pm  

      I was lost amid the incoherence of your post Lucy.

      You make me suffer Lucy because the opinions of people like you, sadly, do have an influence and tend to embody the inverted power politics of the “progressive” left, ie, promoting bourgeois hegemony in the name of cultural integrity.

      But don’t take it too personally - I have similar rows with the “decents” at HP who label me a “Stopper” for criticising their armchair soldiery and “muscular” liberalism. It escapes me why clever people here and there have to cling to either one or t’other. I suspect it is more a psychological than political issue ;-)

    75. KB Player — on 20th August, 2010 at 1:02 pm  

      Others have taken issue with the—to me, quite startling—insistence that the liberation of Afghan women can come only from within the country. (Maybe so, in some utopian sense; but aren’t there cases where people could use a little help? African-American slaves didn’t free themselves—and couldn’t have, no matter how many times we retell the story of Nat Turner; nor, for that matter, could inmates of the Nazi camps, or the Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge, or the Ugandans under Idi Amin. Women in the Congo can’t stop the mass rapes there, any more than women in Saudi Arabia can cause the theocracy to fall. This kind of “do-it-yourself” triumphalism presents itself as a form of respect for the oppressed, but it actually insults them by creating a fantasy-world that evades the extent of the victims’ suffering and, yes, of their powerlessness.) In a wonderful piece originally posted on the Ms. website and then reposted by Guernica, Rafia Zakaria, a Pakistani-born lawyer, wrote, “I find the sudden elevation of Afghan women’s agency at this juncture to be both self-serving and instrumental in denying just how badly the world has failed them. Saying that women ravaged by war for over three decades, whose capacity for resistance has been depleted by incessant meddling of foreign forces, can now independently empower themselves in the wreckage of the abandoned programs we leave behind is an argument meant only to pacify the travails of our own conscience.”

      And it is conscience, I think—or, rather, conflicting claims on our conscience—that is at the heart of this debate. One can argue that it is right to leave Afghanistan, and wrong to ask more Americans to die there. One can argue that the civilian casualties rates of the NATO troops are indefensible, or that the war in Afghanistan is simply too costly for our downwardly-mobile country to pay for. . . . But it is bad faith of the worst sort to argue that withdrawal would somehow help the women of Afghanistan; or would rescue them from lives of almost unimaginable pariahdom, misery, poverty, physical pain, poor health, ignorance, and degradation; or would not take away even the minimal gains that have been made. Equally bad, I think, is the pretense that a “deal” with the Taliban won’t somehow come at women’s (and children’s) expense. Let’s at least call barbarism by its right name—which is just what the Time photograph did.

      http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online.php?id=379

    76. earwicga — on 20th August, 2010 at 4:03 pm  

      That’s a good article KB Player. Thanks. By the way, the ‘minimal gains’ are only in limited parts of Afghanistan. It is likely that a third of polling stations won’t open in this year’s elections. These are in areas controlled by the Taliban. The polling stations in the areas covered by the warlords will of course be open because the warlords (who operate in the same way as the Taliban) are in the Jirga. These warlords have their own private armies who aren’t covered by Karzai’s decree to rid the country of ‘private security companies’.

      I hope you don’t mind me recommending you a few books, which explain a lot more than the links in the OP:

      Afghanistan, Where God Only Comes To Weep by Siba Shakib
      Raising My Voice by Malalai Joya
      Zoya’s Story: A Woman’s Struggle for Freedom in Afghanistan by Zoya, Cristofari & Follain
      The Guantánamo Files by Andy Worthington

    77. earwicga — on 20th August, 2010 at 4:57 pm  

      From an article linked to in the Dissent piece:

      To a large degree, the answer depends on whether one believes that the American military can be a force for humanitarianism. After the last eight years, that’s a hard faith to sustain. Staying in Afghanistan seems indefensible. The trouble is, so does leaving.

    78. Kellie Strøm — on 21st August, 2010 at 1:15 am  

      Thanks for the reading list Earwicga. Siba Shakib looks interesting. I see she’s worked as adviser to NATO’s ISAF troops.

    79. earwicga — on 21st August, 2010 at 2:48 am  

      You’re welcome Kellie. It really is an amazing book which covers many years and many areas of Afghanistan. I’m glad her expertise has been listened to.

    80. Lucy — on 21st August, 2010 at 7:16 am  

      Boyo - Presenting complexity in the course of presenting more than one view was my point. It’s ironic that you saw that as incoherent when you are the one who argues against blinkered outlooks. ‘Cultural coherency’ is not my bag. More like not facing up to reality. Wishful thinking does not make for a superior argument even if it ticks all the comfort-making boxes.

      I do have to take issue with what looks like the premise behind this statement from the ‘Dissent’ quotation above: “African-American slaves didn’t free themselves—and couldn’t have, no matter how many times we retell the story of Nat Turner; nor, for that matter, could inmates of the Nazi camps…”

      There was a civil war in the United States - to prevent the dissolution of that fractured country - not an occupying foreign army [however the South may have regarded it], so it is a bit bemusing to compare the liberation of the slaves in the US to the situation in Afghanistan (where, by the way, of course we should note, there has been civil war). As for the inmates of the Nazi camps, an implication of a phoney premise here : World War Two was not fought for the purpose of liberating the camps. There was a lot that could have been done, many historians would argue, to have prevented the full extent of that tragedy and so many deaths occurring - including immigration policies (and the highly restrictive US policy against accepting Jewish immigration, is a case in point). There is a lot of debate and discussion around those sorts of issues and it is extremely reductive to suggest that there was a big battle fought, called ww2 to free the inmates of those camps. There was not.

    81. Boyo — on 21st August, 2010 at 8:46 am  

      Lucy, fair enough, and I agree with you on the latter part of your response to KBP (re the Jews) however I thought the Civil War was all about slavery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War

      The trouble with all these forums is they encourage silo thinking - I marched (frequently) vs the Iraq war (not because i oppose US-backed wars per se, but because i thought it would result as it did), although did not oppose Afghanistan (for its limited war aims - i never thought any kind of ideological aim was achievable - it has nothing to do with women). I’ve been in a few wars (in a relief role) and the whole business is messy and best avoided in my experience.

      Yet here I’m frequently lambasted as “decent left” or right.

      I’m a socialist - I oppose inequality - and this is more important to me than culture or religion (and that the “progressive left” refuses to see how culture and religion are designed to enshrine inequality is one of the greatest jokes of our time). Hence I tend to speak against women covering up because their culture or God tells them (when actually its the patriachy) for which here I’m often called a bigot, or the like.

      I also get irritated by Israeli exceptionalism - ie, a focus on the sins of Israel. Apparently this makes me a Zionist, although I just find it absurd and slightly sinister that there is this group think against the Jews when
      the Turkish for example, are doing exactly the same thing to the Kurds. Yet I know plenty of PLs who have happy holidays in istanbul while boycotting Israel. I genuinely cannot conceive this kind of hypocrisy, although like all good leftists I am appalled (and have witnessed) Israeli excess and would like to see a return to 67 borders.

      So in turns here I’m a racist, bigot, Zionist war-monger, when actually I’m a democratic socialist. I’m afraid I’m beginning to suspect that for whatever reason, many of those on the PL prefer single-issueism to any kind of moral core (presumably they re afraid or reluctant to look in to that particular abyss - it may lead to uncomfortable or worse, unpopular, conclusions). It’s more a question of the comforts of group-think over any kind of idealism (which is so uncool).



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