Whitewashing the Taliban

December 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm (Afghanistan, anti-fascism, islamism, Max Dunbar, publications, reaction, religion, SWP, wankers, war)

From the people who brought you John Molyneux there is another long, tedious and self-regarding article in the International Socialism journal, this time about Afghanistan. You can guess what it will say, these people have been using the same arguments for so long they can do them in their sleep, but here’s a summary by the author Jonathan Neale:

In every country in Europe majorities in opinion polls are against participation in the Afghan war. Yet the media still present it as a good war. Iraq, they now admit, was a crime or wrong or maybe just a mistake. But Afghanistan is a war on terrorists, we are told; on fanatics, jihadis, sexists, savages; on people who are not ‘modern’ and therefore deserve to die.

Yes, it’s those evil Western imperialists forcing secular democracy upon the noble, untutored tribesmen. Indeed the first part of Neale’s article consists of nostalgic reminisciences of his time in Afghanistan doing ‘two years of fieldwork as an anthropologist from 1971 to 1973’.

[T]he people I knew best were poor pastoralists who had lost their flocks and now made yoghurt. Their lives were not unrepresentative. Most of them got two sets of adult clothes in their lives—one when they first grew up and one when they married. A bicycle was a sign of moderate wealth. Out of 30 households in the camp, three were wealthy enough to afford to offer me a fried egg in hospitality. And they reminded me of it: ‘You ate his egg,’ they said to me. Out of 30 households, 29 ate meat once a year. An average household had one teapot and one cup.

How absolutely darling. I shall certainly make Shah-era Afghanistan the choice for my next gap year.

There’s also this bizarre bit of nostalgia:

When I lived in rural Afghanistan in the 1970s I had a short, trimmed beard. Every other man with a beard was either a white haired elder or a mullah, and all of them trimmed their beards neat and short. I was regularly ridiculed in public for my beard, which was immodest and un-Islamic, and it would have been quite unacceptable to grow it long.

Which proves… er… what exactly?

As you’d expect from this journal Neale concludes that ‘there are no easy outcomes for Afghans in this situation, but the best one is a victory for the resistance.’ That ‘resistance’ being the Taliban, this means that Neale’s main task here is to make the Taliban look good, or at least find diverting explanations for its behaviour.

So we’re told that the Taliban ‘came into being in 1994 under the patronage of the ISI in Pakistan, and with the quiet support of the US’ – so it’s all the fault of the West anyway. The word Taliban just means ‘the students’ and its leadership consists of ‘men with limited formal education’ who ‘had never attended university and did not come from big landowning families’ – good old working class lads, like you.

‘Crucially,’ Neale tells us, ‘the Taliban promised that their leaders and soldiers would not molest boys and girls as the mujahedin commanders had often done.’ Which was nice of them. And while the public executions in football stadia were ‘barbaric’ they were also ‘welcome to many Afghans’. Well, the death penalty may be acceptable to much of the UK public, although I doubt that Neale wants to introduce it over here.

During the 2004 elections the Taliban ‘had the sense not to attack any of the voters at polling stations—people would have been furious.’ Except that they killed election workers, threatened all eighteen presidential candidates with assassination and launched a massive intimidation campaign against potential voters.

Yet for Neale one of the Taliban’s ‘great strengths’ is that ‘they do not engage in bomb attacks against Afghan civilians’ – but they don’t mind shooting them, as in Khandahar two months ago when Taliban killers gunned down twenty-five Afghan civilians, including a child. Still, ‘on the rare occasions when these happen the Taliban issue a public statement denying involvement.’ So that’s alright then.

Indeed, the Taliban have ‘learned, changed their strategy and displayed considerable political intelligence.’ While they banned music and videos when they were in power, now they ‘produce propaganda videos and cassettes of Taliban music.’ Big changes, eh? It’s like Scrooge after the spirits had finished with him.

Next Neale deals with the quislings: regrettably, ‘almost all the feminists have collaborated with the occupation, or the NGOs or Karzai’s government. So have most former Communists, the returned Afghan-Americans, the ‘modernisers’ and the ‘secular’ liberals.’ I wonder why. Could it be because they want a fledgeling democracy over fascist theocracy? What sellouts!

Edmund Standing has already had a go at this and he makes this point:

Yet again, the SWP cannot understand that Islamists are not just resisting the presence of foreign troops; they are resisting democracy, human rights, and, specifically and with most venom, the rights of women and children.

Only today I was talking to a teenage Afghan immigrant whose father was murdered by the Taliban. Try telling him that you want ‘victory for the resistance’, when you mean the same bastards who killed his dad.

To which Ophelia Benson adds:

Well it’s physically impossible for them not to understand that, because it’s physically impossible for them to be unaware of all the myriad news reports of the Taliban burning down schools that admit girls, throwing acid on schoolgirls (that was just last week), murdering teachers in front of their students, etc etc etc. They do understand it, the shits, they just don’t object.

Neale’s piece of propaganda for a fascist movement is something that would have been shocking six or seven years back, but wouldn’t raise an eyebrow now. Yet in light of recent debates as to whether the SWP can be considered a totalitarian party I think that Jonathan Neale has done a real service in reminding us exactly what kind of scum they are and how far they have gone from anything that could be considered remotely left wing.

weareallhezbullah

55 Comments

  1. modernityblog said,

    great post, there was an Assignment programme on it recently, sounded grim.

    The FO minister wasn’t too good with his Birt-speak.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/assignment.shtml

  2. KB Player said,

    “In power they banned music and videos. Now they produce propaganda videos and cassettes of Taliban music.”

    I thought they did the same when they were in power – the only music allowed was specifically religious chanting or songs in praise of the Taliban. Music that people had traditionally played at weddings, for instance, was banned. I don’t see how this is a new, shiny, liberal Taliban.

  3. charliethechulo said,

    Frightning, isn’t it, how sections of the “mainstream” “left” like the Morning Star and Jeremy Corbyn MP seem to relish the prospect of a Taliban victory? (That’s what I understand by their repeated chant about an “unwinnable war”, and calls for an immediate troop withdrawal). Shows just how far we have to go in educating the “left” in the very basics of class politics and internationalism.

  4. maxdunbar said,

    KB, practically none of what Neale says can be taken at face value.

  5. modernityblog said,

    indeed Max, particularly if you trace back Neale’s articles, which start in the 1980s, I posted the link to them somewhere, let me find it

    But certainly there is a PR offensive by, and on behalf of, the Taliban:

    “Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban press spokesman, has appeared on the World Service’s Have Your Say programme, answering questions from listeners. … the encounter was arranged through a series of intermediaries – with the apparent approval of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader. … Mujahid claims they are the victims of western propaganda and insists: “We have even stopped beheading people.”

    which is an admission that they USE TO behead people

    http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2008/12/15/pr-and-the-taliban/

    ahh, found it, Neal’s stuff:

    [Neale previously wrote]”…None of this is to deny that the Taliban are reactionary. They are enemies of most women, as they are enemies of most ordinary Afghan people…”

    http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/politicos-and-the-web/

  6. KB Player said,

    Feudal serfs had music. African American slaves had music. Banning something that’s a consolation for the poorest and most deprived was the shittiest icing on the shit cake of that particular theocracy.

  7. charliethechulo said,

    Is this guy Neale an SWP member? For fuck’s sake! and for years the lying scum that is the SWP denied that they, in fact, supported the Taliban!

  8. Lobby Ludd said,

    Charliethechulo said:

    “Frightning, isn’t it, how sections of the “mainstream” “left” like the Morning Star and Jeremy Corbyn MP seem to relish the prospect of a Taliban victory? (That’s what I understand by their repeated chant about an “unwinnable war”, and calls for an immediate troop withdrawal). Shows just how far we have to go in educating the “left” in the very basics of class politics and internationalism.”

    Well, you’re mistaken, Charlie the whatever.

    Saying that a war is unwinnable does not imply support for any side at all.

  9. Lobby Ludd said,

    Just a little ‘thought experiment’.

    You see a regime that you don’t like.

    You muster imaginary troops against them.

    Nothing happens.

    Good Yuletide to you.

  10. maxdunbar said,

    Modernity I see you’ve got this covered.

    Charlie, I don’t know that Neale’s SWP but it’s a fair assumption to make seeing as it’s in the SWP journal.

  11. modernityblog said,

    just another ‘thought experiment’:

    If you’d feel very uncomfortable living under the Taliban’s rule then WHY inflict that on the Afghans?

    and whilst pondering that point, think:

    are Afghans less worthy than Westerners? or does Internationalism mean so little nowadays?

    again, if you’d hate to live under the Taliban’s version of clerical fascism then why should the Afghans, after all they deserve more.

    just a thought

  12. John Palmer said,

    But, Modernity Blog, what do you do as an Afghan if you do not want the Taliban to rule but also do not want the occupying US/NATO occupation which – you believe – acts as a recruiting sergeant for the Taliban as a result of the massive civilian casualties caused by its criminally irresponsible use of “shock and awe” military power?

  13. modernityblog said,

    John P, you tell me, you’re a genius who ran a Think-tank 🙂

  14. tcd said,

    The first quote dindn’t state anything like Max Dunbar re-wrote it to state,and did not praise the Taliban in any sense, rather argued against the obvious lie that this is a war on “terror”W rather than a wr against the whole Afghan popualtion in order to loot their natural resources and furtther subordinate them to certain geopoltiical interests.

    The second two quotes did not provide any value judgement on anything, I fail to see how they were nostalgi or pro-Taliban. “which proves err what,”, is kind of philistine response to someone giving an account of life in a country which they know more about than you, not every single sentence someone writes has to contain their whole world view, does it? Maybe the guy just wanted to give a rounded in picutre of life in Afghanistan when he was there.

    In any case not one of those quotes even mentioned the Taliban so how exactly can they be said to be “prettifying the Taliban”?

  15. Dr Paul said,

    It won’t be long before some sort of lash-up is negotiated amongst the big powers, Karzai’s government, the various non-Taliban warlords and the Taliban factions, so that — it will be hoped in Washington — the big powers can get out of a unwinnable war, and before the instability that the ‘war on terror’ is exacerbating in Afghanistan extends even further and irreversibly into Pakistan.

    And then, it will be the big powers who will be prettifying the Taliban, just as they put a pretty gloss on the Mujahidin terrorists in the 1980s. What will be interesting is the contortions through which the ‘Decent Left’ will have to go, in their role of justifying Western policies.

    And, of course, our comrade Neale, whose article goes a bit further than one might expect, even taking into account the SWP’s Respectful orientation, will also have to jump through some awkward hoops once the Taliban get Western approval.

  16. Jules said,

    “Yet again, the SWP cannot understand that Islamists are not just resisting the presence of foreign troops; they are resisting democracy, human rights, and, specifically and with most venom, the rights of women and children.”

    While this makes for a gorgeous little neo-conservative sound bite it bears little relation to the reality of life in Afghanistan. The majority of Afghanis outside the few urban heartlands where some sort of law and order exist live in a state of anarchy, under the control of foreign troops, warlords, corrupt police and the Taliban. They are starving, thirsty, impoverished and illiterate – what notion of democracy or human rights are these people supposed to resist? There was a telling report from the Helmand province in Saturday’s Guardian:

    “The people are not planting teryaq (opium) because they don’t have water; they use the little water they can get to plant something they can eat,” says one policeman…
    The commander chimes in: “The government is not helping us. Only the rich people get the money. If you want the help of government, you need money, good car and influential friends.” He says he had planted opium on half his land. “Inshallah (God willing) the rain will be better this year.”

    In the middle of the road from Kandahar to Helmand stood a lone gunman in a white turban and a long coat, his gun flickering with the early morning sun. The driver of our decrepit Toyota taxi slowed almost to a halt, stretched his hand out and put 10 afghani (about £1.50) into the hand of the gunman. “Police,” explains the cabbie, matter of factly. On the side of the road another policeman sits on a blanket drinking tea. The Taliban, bandits and police all make their own contribution to the lawlessness of the Kandahar highway.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/22/drugs-trade-government-corruption-afghanistan

    In these cruel and desperate conditions the occupiers, who have failed provide a chance of a better life for the rural population, are creating a pool of angry, underemployed Afghan farmers through their destruction of the poppy fields – often the only source of income. As one Afghan in the report notes “when the government destroys the fields, the people support the Taliban,”

    This would suggest that many of the fighters labelled ‘Taliban’ have decided to take up arms are not fascists who hate democracy but desperate Pashtun men who have been robbed of any hope of a better life. In order to drain the pool of potential recruits to the Taliban the unwinnable, counterproductive military counter-insurgency campaign must be ended as soon as possible.

    “Only today I was talking to a teenage Afghan immigrant whose father was murdered by the Taliban. Try telling him that you want ‘victory for the resistance’, when you mean the same bastards who killed his dad.”

    Well that’s all very well, provided that you concede that presenting the case for the war and occupation would prove equally challenging to the relative or friend of someone killed by in an US aerial bombardment of an Afghan village.

  17. dargon said,

    Hey Jules,

    What exactly gives you the inside edge on the “reality of life in Afghanistan”? The fact that you’ve read the Guardian and can regurgitate its content in summary form? You’re spinning a definitive narrative from the comfort of your chair, and I’d wager you’ve never been within a thousand miles of Afghanistan.

    There is an question posed on this forum that not a single opposing voice has been able to answer, and I pose it to you, along with a couple of others: would you want to live under a theocratic fascist regime like the Taliban, and if not, what leads you to believe that your average Afghani does? Why, when the Taliban was overthrown, did men line up by the hundreds to shave off their beards? Why were masses of girls suddenly lining up to go to school? Why did the people instantly begin playing music again? What do you suppose will become of them if you have your way, NATO/ISAF forces leave?

  18. tcd said,

    “There is an question posed on this forum that not a single opposing voice has been able to answer, and I pose it to you, along with a couple of others: would you want to live under a theocratic fascist regime like the Taliban, and if not, what leads you to believe that your average Afghani does? Why, when the Taliban was overthrown, did men line up by the hundreds to shave off their beards? Why were masses of girls suddenly lining up to go to school? Why did the people instantly begin playing music again? What do you suppose will become of them if you have your way, NATO/ISAF forces leave?”

    The question to be asked hereis why does someone who has access to the internet and the time and resources to take an interest in politics, think it’s correct to tell the cruel lie to the oppressed people’s of the world that the same Westerm powers who have been activepartners int he rise to power of regimes ranging from the Nazis to Pinochet to the current mass murdering puppet regimes in Afghansitan and Iraq?

    On what basis do you hold the idea that the current foreign policy of these genocidal, parasitical powers, whose economic policies they force on the world starve millions every year, is in any way impeding the rise of fundamentalist Islam or sectarian violence in Central Asia? When in fact these same pwoers fund different warords against each other and actively encourage them.

    Why do you therefore stand up and lie to people in Afghanistan that the mass murdering scum leading your government (which also robs you and attacks your unemployed and their chirdren, and your workers and students and ethnic minorities, while at the same time looting your taxes and savings to savethe bankers with sums which could end world poverty), are going to pose any kind of imporvement tot heir lives by being there?

    Shouldn’t you be calling for a non-sectarian, non-religious, dmeocratic resistance, to defeat the looting and raping of the country by the west and overthrow the warlords who are part of the same structure?

    OR are the Afghans and Iraqis just pathetic, helpless creatures to you have to sit there and either be saved by the west or conquered by the Taliban?

  19. dargon said,

    Meant to add to the last comment….

    Remember, the Taliban predates the NATO presence, and their relative strength will increase if they leave. It matters not a bit whether a few recruits have joined out of desperation as you claim. Indeed, I question your claim . You’ve provided no evidence for it. The quote you provide says nothing of the sort. It merely says that farmers whose crops are destroyed prefer the group that will leave them be. It’s quite a leap to suggest this means they immediately take up arms against NATO. Even if it were true, so what? This doesn’t in any way alter the character of the Taliban, their intent, their essential fascism, or the fact that in numerous opinion polls, the vast majority of Afghanis don’t want them back in power.

    I find your reasoning strange: morally bankrupt at the least, confusing at best. The best way to beat the Taliban is to leave?

  20. dargon said,

    TCD,

    Still didn’t answer my question. I’m beginning to think that you can’t.

  21. tcd said,

    You “think”? Really?

    Anyway let’s look at your question:

    “There is an question posed on this forum that not a single opposing voice has been able to answer, and I pose it to you, along with a couple of others: would you want to live under a theocratic fascist regime like the Taliban”,

    no.

    “and if not, what leads you to believe that your average Afghani does?”

    umm, I don’t

    “Why, when the Taliban was overthrown, did men line up by the hundreds to shave off their beards? Why were masses of girls suddenly lining up to go to school? Why did the people instantly begin playing music again?”

    The same kind of thing happened in my country when we overthrew a dictatorial regime and replaced it with a “democracy”. Obviously as a marxist I defend those gains but it doesn’t mean supporting the existing regime, much less supporting in its repression of the masses as it tries to contain the social upheavals caused by tis own looting of the country.

    Anyway your picture is incompete, Afghanistan current situation is hardly a secular liberal democracy or anything of the sort, it is in fact a brutal pupper dictatorship aiding in the looting of its country for a set of western imperialists, just as the Taliban was.

    “What do you suppose will become of them if you have your way, NATO/ISAF forces leave?”

    I don’t think history is predetermined. I think that the left as a whole needs to take a lead in showing solidarity with the Afghan masses in the struggle against the different imperialist blocs who are using the region, and instead can, and must, unite to throw out the rapist NATO scum, as well as the sectarian and religious warlords who help keep the country in its backwardness, and instead can take power of Afghanistan’s natural resources for their own use, blowing a brilliant hole in the prestige and economic interestsof the genocidal US empire, showing a great example to all of us who live in semi-colonies that we can defeat the global power structures which are starving us every day and which traitors like you defend when you place your hopes in your own bosses who screw you too, rather than in the power of the international working class, and simultaneously undermining the material conditions which allow religious fundamentalism to grow, and replacing this reactionary ideology with a materialist, scientific ideology which identifies the true enemy: the imperialist bourgeoisie’s and their local vassals, the Afghan ruling class.

    So to be honest I find your fake “charity” to the poor helpless Afghans disgusting, hypocritical and pathetic, they don’t need your help or the help of your parasiticsal ruling class or of your brutal racist soldiers. They are beating you, it’s not a moral failure to admit it, but a reality. Your state forces simply aren’t able to impsoe their will on Afghanistan, however much you bleat at the messenger.

    The Afghan masses have the ability to defeat the invader, what is lacking is the consciousness to use this ability for the correct ideological ends, but unlike you I believe in their capability of growing as a society. I believe int heir capacity to strike a revolutionary blow against the mass murderers who first imposed the Taliban on them, and now demagogically promise “democracy” to them to cover their imposal of a friendly dictatorship to replace a troublesome one, at the expense of as many lives as necessarry, much like the Nazis claiming to “libeate” Russia from the Stalinists (which btw I assume you are able to reject without supporting Stalinism…which suggests that the real problem here is not that we differ in our udnerstanding of what the Taliban is, but that you simply do not know the nature of your own state.)

    But I do know the nature of your state, and I know that it’s bourgeoisie, as one of the main owners of the global means of production, is able to force policies onto my country, and as a reuslt I go out in the street and see kids starving every day, becauseof the shit your state pours onto my neighbours. So I will gladly invite you, as a worker, to stand by my side, I will provide you with links, email addresses, and the materials to campaign for us, and I will do the same next time workers in your country are ins truggle. In Euros I earn 200 a month. But I will be there when the workers of your country or any other country come out to fight explotiation and oppression.

    Which side are you on though, your bosses side or the workers? I can invite you to support any number of struggles against exploitation and oppression, and I can tell you exactly what you can do to help. I invite you to accept and to put your existence to some use, and you are free to get in touch with me if you really want to be an internationalist. But, I am sceptical of your acceptance, to say the least.

  22. dargon said,

    Lot of froth, little substance. Thought all the useful idiots were gone, but there you are. Here’s a very simple equation for you: NATO pulls out, civil war is ushered in, millions die. That’s your strange brand of internationalism at work, and I want no part of it. Have I called you a fool yet? Can’t say it enough. By all means, continue to froth and spew. That’s what you’ve got to give the world, apparently: antiquated bullshit, that hasn’t helped a soul. Meantime, I’ll live in the real world, you know, the place you can’t handle? Place of real gains: place where, like it or not, Afghanistan is emerging from failed state status, to the relative benefit of its population. It’ll be a fine day when NATO leaves: after the Taliban is smashed. You’re past blind: the contortions necessary to maintain your ignorance has rendered you objectively pro-fascist, and you can’t even see it. At least you’ve got one thing right: I’m not on your side. You see, I have this weakness: it’s called human rights. Something that only seems to matter to you in the abstract.

    I do know one thing the Afghan people don’t want: Marxism. Already had that one rammed down their throat.

    Welcome to the present. How’s it look from your spot in the dustbin?

  23. Lurker said,

    tcd wrote:

    I believe int heir capacity to strike a revolutionary blow against the mass murderers who first imposed the Taliban on them

    They’re going to strike against Pakistan? Is that before or after they defeat a coalition of the most powerful armies in the world? How are they going to accomplish this amazing feat?

  24. maxdunbar said,

    Jules

    That’s a good point about the poppy fields.

    I think that’s a major weakness of coalition policy to destroy the crops as part of the useless War on Drugs when we could be turning that crop into morphine to help the sick.

  25. John Palmer said,

    Lt. Col. Dargon hasn’t the remotest grasp of the political realities in Afghanistan. Above all he has little understanding of “the Taliban.” In point of fact there is no “the” Taliban. There are many Talibans – often with conflicting political agendas and in some cases with no discernible politic al agenda at all. If there is one common feature to this disparate collection of anti-Karzai, anti-American groups it is that they nearly all share a Pashtun identity. They maybe divided by clain but they are united in seeing Kabul as remote, corrupt and incapable of meeting the expectations of their people. Dargon maybe shrieking for military victory in the war against the Taliban but both Karzai and the different “coalition” forces are each trying to negotiate their way out of an unwinnable war by negotiating with different factions of clans of the many Talibans. I suspect that – in the end which maybe a lot way off – both Islamabad and Kabul are going to have to concede a large measure of self government to the Pashtuns. The struggle for democracy and women’s rights will be long and painful. It is not advanced but dreadfully set back by the palpably ineffective attempt to obliterate the Taliban by “shock and awe” tactics. The Bush military may not be secret agents working on behalf of the Taliban but they could not be doing a better job for them if they were.

  26. modernityblog said,

    John, damn right, there’s no Taliban, very astute, shame that you have to ignore history and evidence to substantiate your point ?

    you weren’t in the SWP/IS?

    not being rude that bland disregard for evidence is something that they do with such style, and it often leaves a lingering mark on their ex-members

    no Taliban eh?

    presumably the rulers of Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 weren’t Taliban in your book?

    shame that doesn’t tally with the evidence:

    http://edition.cnn.com/WORLD/9610/05/taleban/
    http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,175372,00.html
    http://ics.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=141&paper=913
    http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,QUERYRESPONSE,AFG,4562d8cf2,47ce6d7b22,0.html

    but I assume that even you would have to concede that, next you’ll probably argue that the current lot aren’t really the Taliban but a new “softer” resistance?

    is that your argument?

    if so, then sadly, Mullah Omar and friends are not helping your arguments any:

    “The BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner has spoken to Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taleban’s official spokesman.”

    Please, go listen to him, you’ll like the part when he says:

    “We have even stopped beheading people.” an open admission that they did behead people in the past.

    or

    “KABUL, 4 February 2008 (IRIN) – The fugitive leader of Afghan Taliban insurgents, Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, has ordered his fighters to stop beheading people accused of spying for the government of President Karzai and international forces – and kill them, instead, by gunshots and/or hanging, a purported Taliban spokesman has told the media. The move comes after strong condemnation of the Taliban at home and abroad for their beheadings.

    Video clips showing horrific scenes of human decapitations and other forms of severe physical torture had been circulated by the insurgents, apparently in an effort to threaten people who support and/or work with the Afghan government and its international supporters. Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and other international rights watchdogs have repeatedly accused Taliban insurgents of deliberately attacking civilians and systematically violating international humanitarian law. “No more beheadings””

    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/IRIN/a18d0f859a2a144ac020aebe6605f73f.htm

    well John?? No Taliban eh? or is evidential reasoning to be thrown out of the window?

  27. johng said,

    whats so pathetic about this is the refusal to learn from someone who actually knows something about afghanistan. and then counterposing a bunch of people who only found out that afghanistan existed when they made it their lifes work to defend Tony Bliar’s war. you should read Neale’s ‘the afghan tragedy’ on-line published twenty years ago. Unlike those others Neale has a long history of engagement both with that country and its politics.

  28. maxdunbar said,

    Christopher Hitchens has been to Iraq several times.

    Therefore everything Hitchens says about Iraq is correct and no argument is necessary.

    That’s fair, isn’t it?

  29. dargon said,

    Taliban, Talibans…Fascist, Fascists. What would you consider negotiable, senor Palmer? Womans rights? Death by stoning for gays? A cap on the number of annual beheadings? Best practice standards for acid attacks on young girls? Either you believe in the bedrock of universal human rights, or you do not.

    Not all Pashtun are taliban. You seem content to leave those who are not at the mercy of brutal theocrats, in the name of negotiation. How easy it is for you, to relegate these individuals to such misery in the name of peace. What do you have to say to those Pashtun who do not wish to live in a separate taliban state? Indeed, on what grounds do you claim that any of the taliban groups have an interest in negotiating? Numerous reports attest to precisely the opposite; numerous declarations on the part of taliban groups state the opposite. Your grasp of the political realities in Afghanistan is not only lacking; its downright self-serving, and an affront to progressive Afghans.

    The struggle for democracy and woman’s rights would be long and painful indeed, if you had your way. It would, in fact, be impossible.

    I’m not shrieking for a military victory: I find military intervention to be a distasteful, but often necessary scenario in the context of failed states. I would like to see those who propagated the worst excesses of the “shock and awe” phase tried in Afghan courts as war criminals.

    And, for clarity’s sake: it’s not “Lt. Col. Dargon”. It’s “Galactic Space Fleet Admiral Dargon”. Sheesh.

  30. John Palmer said,

    Dargon – you still do not seem to have realised that the way the US led war in Afghanistan is being conducted is strengthening, not weakening, let alone defeating, “the Talibans.” Human Rights are not “negotiable.” But the idea that the like of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld et al can act as disinterested midwives for a state of universal human rights is risible. I do not believe that the Pashtuns will be any readier to accept rule by the religious fundamentalists now than they ever have been. Most of the experts on the ground believe that the fundamentalists are even now very much a minority within the range of different anti-Kabul Talibanisms. Needless to say that it was courtesy of the US that the religious fanatics were armed and supplied in Afghanistan in the first place. The one vague hope is that the promised elections next year will produce a genuinely reforming government in Kabul. But I fear that regime corruption, patronage and popular despair make that an unlikely outcome.

  31. modernityblog said,

    er, in terms of the Taliban, they were funded by the Saudis and armed by the ISI, as a reaction to the anarchy of the War Lords

    but if you want to reduce nearly everything down to blaming the Americans then sadly that doesn’t fully work in terms of the history or of human agency, but I’ll bet you know that already eh John?

    AS IF the Taliban were somehow compelled to behead people? do you think that they don’t have human agency?

  32. Jim Denham said,

    It has gradually struck me over the years…it is one thing to comment upon the wisdom or otherwise, from a strategic, military, point of view, of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Us politico’s aren’t, in general, very knowledgeable about that, and would do better to leave such assessments to the generals. But it’s quite another matter to make political judgements…and *anyone* who suggests that it would be a good thing for the Taliban to regain control of Afghanistan, is a piece of pro-fascist scum.

  33. tcd said,

    “Lot of froth, little substance. Thought all the useful idiots were gone, but there you are. Here’s a very simple equation for you: NATO pulls out, civil war is ushered in, millions die”

    Well no, this is what is happening right now.

    “Meantime, I’ll live in the real world, you know, the place you can’t handle? Place of real gains: place where, like it or not, Afghanistan is emerging from failed state status, to the relative benefit of its population.”

    Which serious analyst claims this?

    “It’ll be a fine day when NATO leaves: after the Taliban is smashed. You’re past blind: the contortions necessary to maintain your ignorance has rendered you objectively pro-fascist,”

    No, objectively pro-fascist is a phrase Orwell used to criticise pacifists, I’m not a pacifist, I support the fight against the Taliban (who are not fascist anyway but religious fundamentalist, can youeven give me a defeinition of fascism). It’s nice to see you learned some buzz words from the circles you obviously move in but they don’t work on people who know what they think. I’ve been fighting int he streets against any repression against workers, women, homosexuals and immigrants since I was 14 years old, and an armchair neo-con is calling me objectively pro-fascist when you’re the same person who supports the Allies in crushing the resistance of a nation which stands in the way of their economci interest?

    I find that quite funny.

    I would say you are objectively useless.

    “You see, I have this weakness: it’s called human rights. Something that only seems to matter to you in the abstract.”

    If you supported human rights you wouldn’t support governments like the Afghan government which routinely violate human rights in order to impose an economic project in the nameof redistributing wealth upwards to imperialist cororations.

    “I do know one thing the Afghan people don’t want: Marxism. Already had that one rammed down their throat. ”

    Because the Soviet bureaucracy in the 1970’s and 1980’s were motivated by marxism when they invaded Afghanistan? Sure! 😀 I suppose you think George Bush is motivated by the Bible too.

    Also, I don’t think you do know what the Afghan population want really, do you? I think you’re just idly guessing. If you knew anything about Afghanistan you would know that it’s far too much of a fragmented society to speak of “what the Afghan population wants”.

    “Welcome to the present. How’s it look from your spot in the dustbin?”

    Itlooks to me as if Wall Street commentators are today reverting to Marx to try to understand why their entire economic philosophy is unravelling, and it looks to me as if the same governments which you idiotically propose as agents of civilising change for us poor helpess little foreigners, ar in fact the ones who are going to attempt to starve us, to bomb us, and to brutally repress us, in order to make us pay the price of the current global economic crisis, Afghans and Iraqis included.

    Tell me something though, if Marxism is irrelevant than why is it that not a single bourgeois commentator can aequately explain today’s crisis and not a single school of thought within bourgeois economis can explain why the system periodically goes into crisis?

    When you have answered that and have explained how capitalism can resolve this contradiction wich has existed as long as the system has, and which defies the attempted solutions of every single economic model the bourgeoisie has tried, then I will accept the “dustbin” comment. Until then, I can tell you that what is in the “dutbin” today are the assumptions of civil society, liberal democracy, and conventional economics. If this wasn’t the case then people in your own counry wouldn’t vote in bigger numbers in Big Brother than they do in your meaningless bread and circus elections, would they! 😀 Itlooks to me then that the very pillars of western liberal society are in the “dustbin” today, and soon will be overcome.

    Whether this results in a progression or a regression depends on applying the lesosns of marxism.

  34. John Palmer said,

    tcd is, of course, quite right. Jim Denham’s all-weather use of “fascist” , especially when hyphonated with “scum” simply betrays the depth of ignorance about the nature of religious fundamentalist movements in still largely tribal societies such as Afghanistan. It is a sloppy, lazy use of language which increasingly characterises much of the self-proclaimed “far left.” However JD’s suggestion that US generals know best when it comes to judging these matters does seem a “first time” for the AWL. A short step, I suppose, from the kind of “realism” which allows one to “understand” Israel’s possible future need to bomb Iran.
    “Modernity” is right to link the Pakistani ISI with support of the Talibs. This was not so much done to counter the Northern war Lords as to create a Pashtuni force which could dominate the client Afghan state and prevent India or Russia from, gaining a strategic toe hold.The ISI in turn sucessfully solicited Saudi aid (under which umbrella Osama bin Laden;s entry into the scene was facilitated). All of this took place with US knowledge and the bulk of the weaponry which allowed the Talibs to deal with the Russian occupying fire power was directly provided by the CIA.
    None of this was done to facilitate the social transformation of Afghan society. Nor could it have been. That has to be done by the Afghans themselves but, the Karzai government has proved a farcical, corrupt failure.

  35. John Palmer said,

    I should add, before others remind me, that I defended the right of the US to take military action against those responsible for 9-11. They have failed to capure bid Laden or other major AQ leaders. But what they have subsequently done has proved – another – disastrous failure. The biggest losers will precisely be the heroic but terribly weak Afghani forces seeking a democratic future. With an incompetant occupation being hung around their necks, their influence is waning daily.

  36. modernityblog said,

    JP wrote:

    ““Modernity” is right to link the Pakistani ISI with support of the Talibs.”

    do you know about book shops?

    they do actually sell books to the non-Middle classes, and funny enough we read them too

    so when you rabbit on about Afghanistan, consciously avoiding arguments and evidence which are inconvenience to your points, it is all too bloody obvious and not terribly convincing either

  37. John Palmer said,

    modernityblog – like what, for example?

  38. modernityblog said,

    as above 🙂

  39. John Palmer said,

    How sad Modernity – when it comes to it you have nothing to back your dismissive rhetoric.

  40. Jim Denham said,

    John Palmer: I’m not sure whether you’ve misunderstood me or not. But I’ll try to clarify matters. It has, for some time, struck me that a lot of the “anti-war” comments you hear at meetings and read in papers like ‘Socialist Worker’ and (especially) the ‘Morning Star’, seem to be based upon a quasi-military assessment of the Iraq war (and, more particularly) the Afghan war: “unwinnable” being the favourite. My point was that us lefties are usually not best placed to make these sort of military judgements. If you want to object to a war, object on political grounds, not on the basis of some spurious military assessment that you are unqualified to make. The same applied to the pro-war people like C. Hitchens, when they started crowing over the initial Afghan victory, as though they could claim some sort of militarily credit. My point is that generals can claim that sort of credit, not lefties (unless you’re “The General” Engels)

    As for people who positively support a Taliban victory being “pro-fascist”: well what else would you call them? The Taliban are a rural fascist movement, are they not? Anyone, but anyone, who expresses the slightest degree of sympathy or support for this ultra-reactionary, anti-working class and anti-woman movement richly deserves to be called “scum”. Especially Western lefties (eg “Workers Power” and the US “Workers World Party” who would sooner die than have to, themselves, live under a regime run by such people, yet think it’s OK for Afghanis. I have a general rule about people who support far-way oversees movements and/or regimes: would you ctually want to live under such a regime yourself? I once asked a member of “Wokers Power” that question about the Taliban: he had the honesty to immediately reply, “Oh no! They’d kill us!” I wonder if – say – Seamas Milne is that honest?

  41. John Palmer said,

    Jim Denham: I cannot see how you can compare a counter-revolutionary movement which arose in advanced industrialised, capitalist societies in response to Bolshevism and defeat in world war – with a religious fundamentalism born in pre-industrial, quasi-feudal societies – as a reaction to foreign occupation and societal changes brought in its wake. Hitler and Mussolini were many things – but religious fundamentalists they were not.
    In any case, my point is that the strictly religious Talibs are one strand in a complex web of tribal, clan and quasi criminal networks united in opposition to the corruption of the Kabul regime and the indiscriminate brutality of the US military occupiers.
    You should know from the history of the movement you belong (belonged?) to that the trick of linking opponents of imperialist ventures to the most backward elements of the forces fighting imperialism is an old one. I well remember during the Vietnam war we were condemned for being agents of Ho Chi Minh and co – even though our comrades in Vietnam had been among the first victims of Vietnamese Stalinism.
    This war CANNOT achieve the liberationist, democratic and social reform goals which you support. The “Third Camp” socialists understood this – read Hal Draper on Vietnam. One reason he broke irrevocably from Max Shactman was that he abandoned that understanding.

  42. Jim Denham said,

    John: you seem to have defined the word “fascist” in order to excluse anything except European fascism of the 1930’s. I’d submit that a movement like the Taliban can properly be described as “fascist”, certainly in terms of its impact upon women, gays and ethnic minorities.

    The left must seek to understand what brought the Talib about, and what forces sustain them (including the counter-productive follies of the West): but any sympathy with these fascistic, ultra-reactionary, gynaephobic thugs is not on. John, you were able to identify fascism in the Balkans when the SWP (and others on the “left”)were supporting it: can you not see the same about the vicious thugs of the Taliban? You’re not a “my enemy’s enemy” person, are you?

  43. modernityblog said,

    JP wrote:“when it comes to it you have nothing to back your dismissive rhetoric.”

    John, what else would you expect?

    I could argue all day and night, but it wouldn’t matter to you, as you continuously argue in such bad faith, on this topic, it is not worth the trouble

    but let’s pick one

    JP wrote: “Above all he has little understanding of “the Taliban.” In point of fact there is no “the” Taliban. There are many Talibans – often with conflicting political agendas and in some cases with no discernible political agenda at all.”

    on what evidence do you base this assertion ? how many are there? how are they related to Mullah Omar’s power structures?

  44. John Palmer said,

    Jim Denham – I think making “fascist” a portmanteau expression for every form of reactionary obscurantism a/ undermines the key defining char5acteristics of fascism b/ adds nothing to an understanding of what drives such movements. Nothing I have said or written reflects any sympathy for the programme/programmes of the Talibs. As you well know. My point is very different: the military strategy of the occupiers is strengthening – not weakening – the influence of and support for the Talibans.

    Modernity: But this not contested by anyone who has ever been to Afghanistan let alone those advising the US and UK governments. Or do you have other sources? This explains why the Karzai government, the Americans AND the British are all openly advertising their readiness to negotiate “understandings” with different clan/tribe factions of the movement loosely called Taliban. There is precious little evidence that Mullah Omar exercises effective centralised control of all those engaged in fighting the occupying forces. What the Talib forces seem to have in common is their Pashtun ethnicity (irrespective of whether they are Afghan or Pakistani Pashtuns). Indeed this distinguishes them from what reportedly are the dwindling forces of Al Quaida which have drawn on many different nationalities at least in the recent past.

  45. dargon said,

    “Well no, this is what is happening right now”.

    No, it’s not. It did during the last Afghan civil war. You really just make it up as you go along, don’t you? Evidence would be nice.

    “Which serious analyst claims this?”

    Lots. A great many Afghans among them. Though it’s rather clear that your using “serious” as code for “tells TCD what he wants to hear”. For starters, millions of girls are now attending school, 100,000 women are running small business with micro-loans, 1 in 4 Afghan MPs are women, 8 in 10 Afghans have access to medical care from a ratio of 1 in 10 four years ago. 17,000+ communities have received new schools, wells and roads. Ten universities now open across the country, seven national TV stations, and a number of independent newspapers. None of this possible under Taliban rule: none of it possible without international assistance. Go ahead and deny these are ‘progressive gains’. I fully expect you to.

    “objectively pro-fascist is a phrase Orwell used to criticise pacifists, I’m not a pacifist, I support the fight against the Taliban (who are not fascist anyway but religious fundamentalist).”

    So, Orwell uses a phrase and its meaning is forever tied to an historic use? It applies to you glove in hand.
    You’re not seriously suggesting that there cannot be such a thing as theocratic fascism?
    Do you really believe the people, in the absence of international assistance, can defeat the Taliban? Why didn’t they do so years ago?

    “…an armchair neo-con is calling me objectively pro-fascist?”

    No, I am.

    “I would say you are objectively useless.”

    Thank goodness: if I had any utility to an objectively pro-fascist like you, I’d be worried.

    “Because the Soviet bureaucracy in the 1970’s and 1980’s were motivated by marxism when they invaded Afghanistan?”

    Yep. Your phrase about the Afghan people needing the “correct ideology” echoes this approach.

    “Also, I don’t think you do know what the Afghan population want really, do you? I think you’re just idly guessing. ”

    Don’t have to guess: simply need to refer to any number of comprehensive surveys of Afghan opinion done in the last few years. What places you in a position of authority on the matter, by the way? Can you see Afghanistan from your armchair?

    Here’s a good read for ya, a report from on the ground. It will greatly disappoint you.

    http://www.democratiya.com/review.asp?reviews_id=206

  46. dargon said,

    oops…quoting TCD in the above.

  47. tcd said,

    dargon said,
    December 24, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    “Well no, this is what is happening right now”.

    No, it’s not. It did during the last Afghan civil war. You really just make it up as you go along, don’t you? Evidence would be nice.

    Well wait, you haven’t provided any evidence, so why do you expect others to? You expect me to paticipate in a comment blog slanging match with a half-wited first-world chauvinist in the same way I would argue with someone who came to me with a serious analysis? Obviously, I will put in the same amount of effort as the other person does. I have far too much experience of doing otherwise!

    “Lots. A great many Afghans among them.”

    But wait, who are these “great many Afghans”? You talk to me about evidence, and then you come to me with this? I am sure you can find a number of public pro-occupation Afghans who are desperately promoted by the imperialist press, so what? I can find you Afghan voices against the war. However I am more interested in you telling me who are these serious analysts, not in the pay of the US army or the Murdoch media or some ideological lobby, who back up your claims about Afghanistan? A simple question which you can’t answer!

    “Though it’s rather clear that your using “serious” as code for “tells TCD what he wants to hear”.”

    Not atall, I’m not a philsitine like you, I’ve read, respected, and taken the time to find the answers to, plenty of analysts who are indiametric opposition to my views. For example Oliver North (who incidentally ont hsi aprticular issue, Afghansitan, was shown to be a corrupt liar in the pay of the US army, but who as an academic and historian is worth taking into account).

    “For starters, millions of girls are now attending school, 100,000 women are running small business with micro-loans, 1 in 4 Afghan MPs are women, 8 in 10 Afghans have access to medical care from a ratio of 1 in 10 four years ago. 17,000+ communities have received new schools, wells and roads. Ten universities now open across the country, seven national TV stations, and a number of independent newspapers. None of this possible under Taliban rule: none of it possible without international assistance. Go ahead and deny these are ‘progressive gains’. I fully expect you to.”

    Well they aren’t reactionary in themselves, (though the quote about MP’s is pretty irrelevant when these MP’s are dependent on the force of an occuping power and impune paramiltiaries to have any authority whatsoever,so I don’t think a sham parliament is somehing to boast about, whatever gender the scum isnide are).

    However your weak developmentist arguments sound the like the kind of technocratic crap I could hear from any supporter of Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, colonel Gadaffi, the Iranian Clerics (or the Shah), General Juan Domingo Peron, etc. A brutal, looting puppet dictatorship, which maintains its population in utter poverty and desperation while ensuring as much walth as possible flows to its friends, invests a small amount of the national wealth in infrastrucutre and public services. Wow! Do you therefore support such a government against those of its population who resist oppression? Because in that case you should pretty much every third world dictatorship, because most, while looting their country and brutalising their population, also provide some public services. In fact I am pretty sure that the secular third world nationalist dictatorship in Afghanistan in the 1970s which the US destabilised via a campaign of terrorism (because they preferred a feudalist regime to a developmentist one) had a much more “progressive” project than the one you detailed in your “argument” above, yet I don’t think it would have been correct ot support them, and I know you didn’t supprot them either.

    So, unless you supported every vaguely developmentist regime from Castro to Hoxha in Albania (who acheived much mroe radical results in transforming a tribal society and elevating material conditions than your brutal paramiltiary backed mates in afghanistan have) to Saddam Husseint o Peron to Gadaffi, then I don’t see how quoting those statistics above proves that I should support the current Afghan dictatorship rather than placing my hopes in the Afghan masses taking power into their own hands.

    “So, Orwell uses a phrase and its meaning is forever tied to an historic use? It applies to you glove in hand.”

    You should knwo the history of thre buzz words you come up with – or at least analyse thei I have meaning. “Objectively pro-fascist” means someone who resists the struggle against fascism or who hinders it in the real, objective world. You, my friend, live in a coutnry which brutally discrimates, murders, and huimiliates on a daily basis, foreigners like me, my brothers and sisters. Do scum liek you do anything to resist this? Are you out in the streets fighting the BNP, wanker? There are 10,000 organised fascists in England alone, and many more, armed, in Northern Ireland (UVF etc.). Are oyu resisting them? Are you doing anything? I resist fascism in my country, i come froma movements that has tens of thousands of dead resisting fascism. So wheny ou call me objectively pro-fascist, you don’t know what the phrase means, you strip it of all content and meaning. Orwell correctly used this phrase to criticise pacifists – whilst arguing that the only effective wya to fight fascism was through socialist revolution.

    So I owuld ask you please to stop bastardising complex conceptswith your hollow and empty parrot like repetition!

    “You’re not seriously suggesting that there cannot be such a thing as theocratic fascism?”

    I asked you to define fascist. You can be a dictator without being a fascist. Or do you think Pinochet, Mussolini and Stalin all had the same ideology?

    Plenty of ignorant people do, go ahead, show me you are one of them.

    “Do you really believe the people, in the absence of international assistance, can defeat the Taliban? Why didn’t they do so years ago? ”

    Plenty of movements have overthrown dictatorships after years of oppression. Afghanistan doesn’t live in a vacuum.

    In any case the situation today is radically different. The pwoer struggle between the different blocs of ruling class explotiers, rapists and murderers, have opened up a space of complete chaos int he country. Great part of the population is armed. No power bloc is able to etablish hegemony. The prospect of different rural communities taking power for themselves and throwing out all the invaders and clerics is objectivley very possible. All that is lacking is the subjective understanding to do so. However, this can be brought fromt he outside. In the current context, when millions of people across the world, not just in the periphery but also int he central countries, are rising up against the barbarie that capitalism is once again submitting us to with its full force, then afghanistan can and must be turned into a pillar of this struggle.

    You on the other hand want Central Asia to suffer another century under the heel of the racist imperialist pwoers who periodically submit the whole region not only to whichever brutal regime currently serves their interests, but to the brutal process of regime changes when one comprador rulign class bargains too hard for its own share and must be replaced.

    Britain has been intervening in Afghanistan since the 1830’s. Look how great those past 170 years were for the Afghanmasses. You wnat them to suffer naother 170 years waiting for the jolly good intentioned old Brits to get it right?

    Or is now the time to throw out the occupiers for good, along with the traditional locl elite which does their bidding, and instead take ocntrol of their ownstate.

    Dargon lives in “reality”. Tjhis means 170 years of the same shit for the Afghans, under the rule of the rational Brits. No way out. Accdept this because it could be even worse! Even worse than being a slave.

    BTW why didn’t you answer any of the points about the “dustbin”? If Marxism is int he dustbin, then where are the answers of bourgeois ideolgoy to the current crisis!?

    OR or the Afghans your pet little project and the rest of us boring humans you decide to ignore? A bit like a westenr kid who goes to build a wall for some savages with his private christian school charity, and because he did that doesn’t ned to worry about any other part of the world?

    “…an armchair neo-con is calling me objectively pro-fascist?”

    No, I am.

    “I would say you are objectively useless.”

    Thank goodness: if I had any utility to an objectively pro-fascist like you, I’d be worried.

    “Because the Soviet bureaucracy in the 1970’s and 1980’s were motivated by marxism when they invaded Afghanistan?”

    Yep. Your phrase about the Afghan people needing the “correct ideology” echoes this approach.

    “Also, I don’t think you do know what the Afghan population want really, do you? I think you’re just idly guessing. ”

    Don’t have to guess: simply need to refer to any number of comprehensive surveys of Afghan opinion done in the last few years. What places you in a position of authority on the matter, by the way? Can you see Afghanistan from your armchair?

    Here’s a good read for ya, a report from on the ground. It will greatly disappoint you.

  48. tcd said,

    “Yep. Your phrase about the Afghan people needing the “correct ideology” echoes this approach.”

    No, you obviously haven’t read MArx, much less understood what marxism is. The Soviet bureaucracy was not motivated by marxism, nor had nay interest in ideolgoy. They were motivated by pure self-interest. For this reason they weren’t even trying to establish a Stalinist regime, but to support a borugeois third world nationalist regime against US supportedreligious fundamentalist terorrists.

    “Don’t have to guess: simply need to refer to any number of comprehensive surveys of Afghan opinion done in the last few years. What places you in a position of authority on the matter, by the way?”

    I didn’t claim to be an authority. Idon’t remmeber claimign to know “what the Afghans want”. I don’t base my views on opinion polls (which are hardly very relieable when carried out in a dictatorship, by imeprialist corporations), rather I identify a view of the bglobal situation, and base what is necessaryr on that, arguing to convicnce people, rather than claiming to speak for them.

    “Can you see Afghanistan from your armchair? ”

    Ah, but I am not in an armchair, I am an active trotskyist and have many rubber bullet scars to prove it! I’ve been active in third world super exploited workplaces, spent many time in struggles against European and US corporations! And I bet I am much younger than you! So, again, the “armchair” comment is hollow. In your case it isn’t though, all you are doingis cheerleading from a distance for a brutalimeprialsit pwoer and its racist mercenary soldiers as they cynically impose their interests on someone else. You are objectively useless, asI say. Not just to me but to anyone. The people you support would do all of this without you anyway.

  49. tcd said,

    btw, I read your report. some diamonds:

    It’s as though there are two completely different Kabuls in the world. There’s the city that routinely shows up in English-language dailies – a miniature, Central Asian version of Stalingrad during the siege – and then there’s the one you never hear about, a bustling, heartbreakingly poor but hopeful and splendid city.

    So, thisheartbreaking poor country under the occupation of the richest country in the world which recently paid 7000 million USD to its banks. Uh-huh

    “The Kabul known to the outside world is the city the Sunday Telegraph judged ‘as dangerous as Baghdad at its worst’ shortly after I arrived here.”

    Tis would be the aggressively pro-war Sundat Telegraph, which nonetheless reports this…and Terry Galvin doesn’t deny this, btw, simply shows that there is “another side to the story”.

    “This is the Kabul you can see from the verandahs of the city’s justifiably jittery foreign diplomats, aid-agency bureaucrats and journalists. It’s the one with helicopters always flying overhead, and rapid-fire text messages on everyone’s fancy cell phones containing intelligence bulletins about the latest assassination attempts and kidnappings.

    Another city entirely is the Kabul I came to know during three weeks of interviews with human rights’ lawyers, polio victims, almond-sellers, seamstresses, football players, cab drivers, teachers and beggars. This the Kabul of the souks and bazaars, the bus stops and back alleys; and no matter what you read in the headlines, its citizens are among the most welcoming, happily boisterous and hospitable people on earth.

    It is in this other Kabul that you will find a sprawling sub-metropolis where life unfolds in intrigues and excitements all its own among the hordes of kite-flying children on Kabul’s flat rooftops. At least 70,000 of these Kabulis are more or less orphans who descend into the streets every day to hawk maps, magazines, and packages of chewing gum, sometimes resorting to begging, ragpicking and the refined art of the pickpocket.”

    I see. So whilst imperialist bureaucrats are roaming round in armoured cars and living in luxury, 70,000 children, who coul eat for a year iwth a fraction of what the US spends on bailing out its failed capitalists, live in absolute poverty. And Terry Galvin doesn’t call for theexproporiation of the bureaucrats wealth, but thinksit’s just great that despite the brutal impvoerty and insutice, these sweet little kids, uncorrupted by vulgar western wealth, enjoy a “sense of humour”.

    What a disgusting, romantic hypocrite your friend proves to be.

    I could go on but the gist of your report is pretyt obvious. “Poor but happy” – i.e. – “continue looting them, they don’t mind, they’ll survive anyway”.

    Oh and let’s end on this one:

    “But it could well be that Obama’s victory is just as Slavoj Žižek describes it: A ‘sign of hope in our otherwise dark times.’ And it could be that this is precisely what Afghanistan most needs, ‘a sign that the last word does not belong to realistic cynics, from the left or the right.’

    It’s all just words, of course. But words can go a long way, and in Afghanistan, the words the people need to hear are these: We will not leave you. We will not betray you. We will not abandon you.”

    Ah now I see. A western Ivy Leauge kid, backed by Wall Street, a neo-liberal who wants to direct the states funds to the financial and industrial oligarchy whilst attacking owrkers rights, immigrants and the poor, who has told GM, Chrysler and Ford that to get bailed out they must sack workers in my country, and brutally lower wages at home – this saviour will descend fromt he heavens and, fromt he goodness of his heart, bring liberation to us wretched mortals, crushing the savage fascists who resist. Then I suppsoe he will ride through the streets throwing sweets to small children.

    Ah those nasty cynics who wanr that this might not happen. As horrible as those people who tell you that Santa Claus is made up.

    You truy are pathetic aren’t you if this crap is your idea of an “analysis”.

  50. dargon said,

    In the end, TCD, you’re simply a sad fool playing revolutionary games with other peoples lives. I say objectively pro-fascist to you now as I did before: your subjective view of the ‘reality’ for Afghans would absolutely deliver them back into the hands of fascist scum: a village cache of AK’s never was a match for a fascist militia armed by the ISI and funded with Saudi dollars, and it wouldn’t be this time around either. Despite your whine and froth and spittle, the objective result of your programme would be a theocratic fascist victory (again) in Afghanistan. It’s a general failing of your perspective, to cling to ossified ideas with little regard for their changing meaning through time. You seem to have built a sad little life around it. I predict you’re a person with what we call soft hands: nary a callous to show an honest day’s labours, but a boatload of bullshit about the ‘workers’ needs. Fuck your vanguard: you’ll be amongst the first against the wall when it all comes to reckon anyhow. I’m not from any of the countries you seem to think I am: I am by income and existence nothing more than a day labourer and a working man, and I’ve nothing but contempt for your pissy drivel, and your adolescent boasts about rubber bullet scars. I’d suggest next time you face a barrage of rubber you lead with your head; clearly it’s your thickest part, and the place to which little harm can come. You call me ‘half-wit’, yet coming from you it smacks of envy. Go back to jerking off to your Trotsky poster, you’re a complete fucking waste of time.

  51. Jim Denham said,

    Here’s just one reason why the Taliban must be deaeted at all costs:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article5397901.ece

    The tactics of how we defeat and kill these barbarians, is a secondary matter.

  52. tcd said,

    “In the end, TCD, you’re simply a sad fool playing revolutionary games with other peoples lives. I say objectively pro-fascist to you now as I did before: your subjective view of the ‘reality’ for Afghans would absolutely deliver them back into the hands of fascist scum: a village cache of AK’s never was a match for a fascist militia armed by the ISI and funded with Saudi dollars, and it wouldn’t be this time around either. Despite your whine and froth and spittle, the objective result of your programme would be a theocratic fascist victory (again) in Afghanistan. It’s a general failing of your perspective, to cling to ossified ideas with little regard for their changing meaning through time. You seem to have built a sad little life around it. I predict you’re a person with what we call soft hands: nary a callous to show an honest day’s labours, but a boatload of bullshit about the ‘workers’ needs. Fuck your vanguard: you’ll be amongst the first against the wall when it all comes to reckon anyhow. I’m not from any of the countries you seem to think I am: I am by income and existence nothing more than a day labourer and a working man, and I’ve nothing but contempt for your pissy drivel, and your adolescent boasts about rubber bullet scars. I’d suggest next time you face a barrage of rubber you lead with your head; clearly it’s your thickest part, and the place to which little harm can come. You call me ‘half-wit’, yet coming from you it smacks of envy. Go back to jerking off to your Trotsky poster, you’re a complete fucking waste of time.”

    Yep, heard it all before. My party is 40% industrial workers and 60% workers, and every day int he factories and neighbourhoods we run up against defeated old cynics like yourself. You think you’re going to effect me with some insults over the internet? We have tens of thousands of dead in concentration camps, something which was cheered on by deferential, conservative old “honest” fellows like yourself, in the name of defending stability and western democracy etc.

    So what? The new generation of yound workers, with no experience of defeat, increasingly doesn’t respect your morals or your deference to your traditional leaders. We’ll sweep you aside. You’ve got no answers to the current world situation, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. 70,000 kids starving while imperialist bureaucrats live in luxury, and you quote this as an endorsement of the situation!

  53. tcd said,

    oh and speaking of serious analysts:

    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=16737

    “Afghan occupation is ‘corrupt from top to bottom’
    by Simon Assaf

    Kim Howells, the former foreign office minster responsible for Afghanistan, has described the occupation of the country as corrupt “from top to bottom”.

    He said, “There are few signs that the chaotic hegemony of warlords, gangsters, presidential placemen, incompetent and under-resourced provincial governors and self-serving government ministers has been challenged in any effective way by President Hamid Karzai.

    “On the contrary, those individuals appear to be thriving, not least because Karzai has convinced himself that he cannot afford to sack or challenge the strongmen who, through corruption, brutality, power of arms or tribal status are capable of controlling their territories and fiefdoms.”

    He warned that the British government’s recent pronouncements on the war were “daft”. “People will not accept the notion that British families should send their sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to risk their lives fighting religious fanatics, tribal nationalists, corrupt warlords and heroin traffickers in one of the most godforsaken terrains on the face of the earth.

    “The notion is daft, however much we may try to rationalise it by arguing that it is better to fight Al Qaida over there than over here.”

    This recent change of heart by one of New Labour’s chief supporters of the occupation reflects growing unease over the Afghan war.

    This week four British troops were killed in one day. Three Canadian soldiers suffered the same fate the next day, bringing to 280 the number of foreign troops killed this year.

    Now the US is planning to push in 5,000 extra troops to help British soldiers drive back insurgents in the south.

    This “mini-surge” comes as the US and its Nato allies are desperately attempting to open peace talks with sections of the Afghan resistance.”

    Now let me state that I don’t agree with his characterisation of Afghanistan, or his reasoning. But I think if you want to talk about the “real world” then you should start by seeing how the British imperialist elite is increaisngly viewing the situation. And then, you should admit that your strategy of progress through these people is wrong and unsustainable.

  54. Jenny said,

    The Proles blogh had an entry on this too: http://theproles.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html

    Essentially, I agree with his premise,but he might misunderstand this article mentioned here.

  55. violar niñas said,

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