Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"One day, I met a boy from the refugee camp. He was a shoeshine boy. . ."

At least 60,000 street urchins roam the city of Kabul. Straight out of the pages of Oliver Twist, they are beggars, pickpockets, incense burners, shoeshine boys, porters, ragpickers, scrap-metal collectors and trinket hawkers. At first light, you see them carrying heavy jugs up the mountainsides to the growing slum settlements, to sell water for the equivalent of a handful of pennies per jug. At dusk, they're still working, racing through traffic at busy intersections, selling chewing gum, maps, matches and cigarettes.

"The main problem for these street children, these working children, it is like they are treated as though they are not human," says 40-year-old Mohammed Yousef, a devoted children's rights crusader. "If there are children who are stealing food, the police will only look at the clothing the children are wearing. The ones in rags, they will beat them."

Yousef is the manager of Aschiana, a unique, multifaceted initiative. It's an elementary school, an emergency shelter, an outreach program, the student-run Voice of Afghan Children newspaper, a vocational training centre, a hub for political advocacy and a sort of a bank run by the street kids themselves.

Every year, Aschiana's services reach as many as 10,000 street children, many of them orphans and runaways. Wander through Aschiana's complex in the heart of Kabul and you'll find children working in gardens, playing on a basketball court, or hard at work in literacy, photography, calligraphy and computer classes. There are sewing, embroidery and tailoring programs, karate classes, a traditional music program and a popular artists' workshop. . .

- from my latest essay in the series, in the Calgary Herald.

News From Afghanistan And From Foreign And Exotic Places Like America.

I’m very afraid of going back to school. Last time I became sick. Next time I think I will die: "In a week or so, my own daughters will go back to school. The biggest things we’ll have to worry about are what we can and can’t put in their lunches, and if we have all the school supplies they’ll need. We don’t have to worry whether someone will spray poison gas into their classroom because they don’t think girls should have a right to go to school."

Afghan police and civilians have suffered far higher casualties: A series of bomb attacks have badly hit US troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past 48 hours. The death toll among in the Nato-led coalition has reached 484 this year and is predicted to far surpass 2009’s total of 521.

Thanks for all the help: Civil-liberties groups filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the legality of the Obama administration's expansion of the U.S. fight against al Qaeda terrorists beyond Pakistan and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights are taking aim at what the government calls its "targeted killing" program, which mostly uses Central Intelligence Agency-operated drones against suspected terrorists. The lawsuit was filed in federal court for the District of Columbia on behalf of the father of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric of Yemeni descent.

Unfortunately, the Code Pink activists were only pretending: After playing dead on top of oil-black plastic sheets outside a Chevron office, protesters marched through downtown San Francisco on Monday to denounce “oil addiction” on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as the U.S. Gulf Coast recovers from its more recent disaster.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Extract From The Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Lisdoonvarna.

My comrade and fellow Culchie Diaspora traveller Eamonn McDonagh, lately of Buenos Aires, has once again taken the time to debunk yet another eruption of ridiculous comparison-drawing between the prospects for peace and reconciliation in The Holy Land (i.e. Israel, i.e. the Zionist Entity) and The Holy Land (i.e. Ireland, i.e., em, the Hiberinian Entity). Eamonn expresses the exasperated wish that the jackeens who do this would just houl their wheest, and in so doing, he offers the following necessary summary of the distinctions between Irish republicanism and Hamas fanaticism:

"1. The Northern Ireland peace process worked because it allowed the Provisional Republican movement a graceful and painless surrender after it had been militarily and politically defeated by the British state. 2. The political conditions that allowed the Good Friday Agreement to be made consisted, among other things, of the wearing down of the will of Sinn Féin and the IRA to resist British rule in Northern Ireland by force. Among the methods employed to do this were interrogation techniques mounting to torture, mass internment without trial and deniable assassinations. It’s good to remember when we hear woolly talk about the peace process. 3. Provisional Republican ideology - though betrayed a thousand times with bloody sectarian deeds - was based on the Enlightenment, the unity of Catholic, Protestant and dissenter and the defense of the men of no property. . . 4. The IRA never called for the uprooting of Protestant “settlements” in Northern Ireland and never called for Catholics to be given back the land the planters took from them. . . 5. The disjunction between the foul sectarian massacres of Provoism and its (in certain respects) laudable ideals is not a small matter. . . The ideology of Hamas, on the other hand, is based on racial hatred and the supremacy of one religion over all others. . . 6. Hamas isn’t fighting for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, it’s fighting to replace Israel with such a state. So, for the comparison with the Provos to be valid they would have had to have been seeking to conquer the entire UK and make London the capital of Ireland. 7. Hamas isn’t fighting alone; it’s fighting with the explicit and acknowledged aid of a regional power, Iran, whose leaders never tire of repeating that they want to see Israel destroyed. . ."

Eamonn drew a similar lesson from the recent commemoration of the Big Fella's assassination, in that 88 years after Michael Collins was killed and 87 years after the end of the Civil War, the Irish are still dealing with its consequences and attempting to heal the breach it opened among and between them. "Meanwhile, some Irish people would like the Jews to just get over what happened to their parents and grandparents in Europe between 1939 and 1945, accuse them of being the contemporary incarnation of their own worst oppressors, and are prepared to boycott their state until it behaves as they would wish."

We might all remember that we live in the real world, in other words. And this raises the weird unreality that possesses the deluded people of the increasingly Islamist-corporate authoritarian state of Turkey, from which journalist and filmmaker Claire Berlinksi provides this chilling and disturbing account of a hugely important story you will not have read about in your newspapers. As an illustration of how badly the Turks have been systematically and methodically misled by their corporate media, Berlinski cites the case of the hysterical reaction to the fate of the so-called Gaza "relief" ship, the Mavi Marmara: "They believe that the ship was on a humanitarian mission and nothing but a humanitarian mission. They are bewildered that anyone would have interfered with such a noble-minded endeavour. They do not know that there were no humanitarian supplies on the Mavi Marmara. They do not know the most rudimentary facts about Hamas."

Then again, not a few geezers in countries with a free press (routinely said to be a Zionist-controlled press, regardless) are similarly encumbered by these same delusions. I guess this should be no surprise, when you have a look at the media they trust, which is just as grotesque as the corporate media currently manipulating public opinion in Turkey. It's enough to make you want to put pins in your eyes. But it's always better just to laugh.

It's All Our Fault.

Toronto Star columnist Haroon Siddiqui's latest attempt to establish himself as Canada's poster boy for the delusional justifications for reactionary isolationism is quite adequately captured by his column's headline: "To tackle domestic terrorism, end foreign wars." Adrian McNair's careful and effortless deconstruction of the absurd edifice Siddiqui's relies upon to present his case is also quite adequate to show how plum crazy you'd have to be to be convinced by Siddiqui's case.

But there is just one little nail you can pull from the structure Siddiqui builds for himself to cause the whole thing to come crashing down. Siddiqui knows this, so he has to hide it, with this: "No state can be held hostage by terrorists into changing its foreign policy. Such actors must be ferreted out, charged, convicted and jailed. . . Yet such cases should give us pause — so that we are not herded into blindly backing endless wars and occupations abroad."

Canadians, least of all Toronto Star readers, are in no need to be given "pause" about sending our soldiers off to die in faraway places. You'd have to be a crackpot to imagine that Canadians are vulnerable to being "herded into blindly backing endless wars and occupations abroad," but that's precisely the delusion you'd need bouncing around in your brains for Siddiqui to have any point to make at all in the first place. Nobody's asking us to be "backing endless wars and occupations" anywhere, blindly or otherwise. Even our Conservative prime minister is now firmly in the "troops out" camp.

To resolve the imaginary problem that so concerns Siddiqui, Ottawa would end up having to insult 99.9 per cent of Canadian Muslims by running its foreign policy decisions past the most backward and reactionary of Canada's imams, just to ensure beforehand that nothing we did would threaten to upset their crazier spoiled-brat followers. But just to begin to follow Siddiqui's logic, notice how you have to presume both the guilt and the motivation of the individuals caught up in the recent "Operation Somosa" terror arrests?

The presumption of innocence, which Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff properly admonishes us to make, should go without saying. But while I'm on the subject, Ignatieff should also be a bit more careful to make the argument for it without grossly misrepresenting the facts, thus: "It's important for Canadians to realize in the Toronto (18) case, the courts acquitted many people." To put this in the kindest way possible, Ignatieff presents a rather too-liberal interpretation of what happened in that case.

Strictly speaking, the courts acquitted not even one of the Toronto 18.

The Crown withdrew charges against one, a minor, at preliminary hearing, so we're really talking about 17, not 18. Of the 17, 14 were adults. Of those, 7 pleaded guilty to their crimes, 3 were convicted at trial, and Crown stayed charges against the remaining 4 adults, with heavy conditions and peace bonds and the threat of having the charges re-entered at any time (this is how you get evidence from an accused's partners in crime). Of the remaining 3 accused, all minors, Crown stayed charges with conditions and peace bonds in two cases, and the last little brat was convicted at trial.

Poor dears. If we'd only listened to Haroon Siddiqui, none of them would have been provoked into committing their crimes in the first place, and everything would be just fine.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The President Is Unavailable For Comment. He's Too Busy Building His Own Gallows.

KABUL, Afghanistan — One of the country’s most senior prosecutors said Saturday that President Hamid Karzai fired him last week after he repeatedly refused to block corruption investigations at the highest levels of Mr. Karzai’s government.

Fazel Ahmed Faqiryar, the former deputy attorney general, said investigations of more than two dozen senior Afghan officials — including cabinet ministers, ambassadors and provincial governors — were being held up or blocked outright by Mr. Karzai, Attorney General Mohammed Ishaq Aloko and others.

Like Mohaqiq says: "The new political path that Karzai has chosen will not only destroy him, it will destroy the country. It's a kind of suicide."

In The New Republic, Barry Gewen has an amusing and irreverent take on our preoccupations with Afghan corruption, and his point has its merits, if only from a short-term American national-security point of view. He begins his essay by citing an essay of mine in Democratiya, in which I cite some gallows humour about Karzai and "corruption" that was making the rounds in Kabul at the time. My point was rather different than Gewen's - a mote in your brother's eye sort of point.

I doubt things have much improved, but at the time, the world had pledged roughly $25 billion to Afghanistan for aid and reconstruction, but only $15 billion has been delivered, and barely half that amount had trickled into the Afghan economy; the rest has been eaten up in ex-pat salaries, consultants’ fees, and country-of-origin subcontracts. It's why the foreign-aid overclass in Kabul is known as "the cow that drinks its own milk."

Badabing, tish.

HOLD ON a minute. This just in: Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Afghanistan's national security adviser, said that Faqiryar, at 72, was simply too old by law to hold his post. "His existence is illegal," Spanta said.

Also: Wadir Safi, a professor of law and political science at Kabul University, says: "As long as we don't clean up our administration, make it accountable to better serve people, and as long as we have mafia networks and bosses, warlords, war criminals, and violators of human rights in this administration, we will not be able to improve this situation. They will deliberately perpetuate corruption to prolong their rule."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Everything Is Still Crazy After All These Years.

SEATTLE A human foot has washed up on another West Coast beach, but this time in Washington state. The right foot was found by a tourist on Whidbey Island, about 50 kilometres north of Seattle, on Friday morning. Seven feet have been found on B.C. shores since August 2007. RCMP have said all of the feet separated from the bodies naturally in the water and foul play is not suspected in any of the cases.

OTTAWA -Khurram Syed Sher, the third suspect arrested as part of Project Samosa, made a brief court appearance this morning. Dr. Sher looked nothing like the cocky, confident joker that he was when he auditioned for Canadian Idol in 2008. Rather, he appeared nervous and his eyes darted around the room as he made his first court appearance.

VANCOUVER -As fishermen haul in massive loads of sockeye salmon, the official estimate of this summer’s near-record bounty has been upped to 30 million, the second increase in four days, deepening one of Canada’s great scientific mysteries. It is the most sockeye that have returned to British Columbia’s Fraser River in almost a century.

ELLESMERE ISLAND - The ice shelves, betwee 3,000 to 5,500 years old, are disintegrating. A century ago, they covered almost 10,000 square kilometres, an area one and half times the size of Prince Edward Island. Today the shelves are a tenth that size and could soon be erased completely from Canadian maps and relegated to a footnote in the history books.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -“Something beyond imagination is happening,” Fox News commentator Glenn Beck told tens of thousands of fans and Tea Party activists gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to embrace the nation’s long tradition of religion as part of its decision-making. “America today begins to turn back to God.”

REYKJAVIK - Yoko Ono has always campaigned for peace and her upcoming Icelandic excursion is no different. Arriving on the island country Oct. 9, Yoko will hand out four LennonOno Grant For Peace awards to recipients deemed to have made a difference. Ono will honor Alice Walker for her stance against racism and sexism as well as for her book Overcoming Speechlessness, which documents a journey of 60 activists from "anti-war" group Code Pink to Gaza to protest Israeli and Egyptian actions against the Palestinian territory.

KELOWNA -A five-year-old boy has now learned when it's appropriate to call 911. The boy dialed the emergency number after he became upset because his six-year-old sister wouldn't let him use the family computer.

BONUS: Another Anti-Zionist Own Goal In The Globe And Mail.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Home To A Hero's Welcome.

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AFP) – Former US president Jimmy Carter returned Friday to a hero's welcome after bringing home safely an American national sentenced to eight years hard labor in North Korea. Friends and family gathered on the tarmac in Boston, Massachusetts to greet Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a 30-year-old African-American man who was jailed for illegally crossing into the North from China.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (KCNA) Jimmy Carter made an apology to Kim Yong Nam for American Gomes' illegal entry into the DPRK and gave him the assurance that such case will never happen again on behalf of the government and the ex-president of the U.S. He asked Kim Yong Nam to convey to General Secretary Kim Jong Il a message courteously requesting him to grant special pardon to Gomes to leniently forgive him and let him go home.

After receiving a report on the request made by the U.S. government and Carter, Kim Jong Il issued an order of the chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission on granting amnesty to Gomes, an illegal entrant, pursuant to Article 103 of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK.

Carter expressed deep thanks for this.

. . .The DPRK side took measures as an exception to ensure that they met Gomes three times and confirmed his condition. The U.S. side offered gratitude for these humanitarian measures. The measure taken by the DPRK to set free the illegal entrant is a manifestation of its humanitarianism and peace-loving policy.

During the visit Carter and his party met and had an open-hearted discussion with the DPRK's foreign minister and vice foreign minister for U.S. affairs on the DPRK-U.S. relations, the resumption of the six-party talks, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern.

They also enjoyed a performance given by the State Symphony Orchestra.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A tribute to "activists with impeccable credentials on the European left."

. . .When these intellectuals see the word Islamo-fascism, they do not rail about the abuse of language, denounce George Bush, or make furious comments about misplaced historical analogies. On the contrary, they place themselves, and belong, squarely in the progressive European tradition.

This is a significant development in the intellectual and political history of German-speaking Central Europe and perhaps for Europe as a whole. It has parallels to the “Euston Manifesto” from London, and to its American cousin, published in Washington, DC in 2006. Now it’s one thing for British leftists or American liberals to revive the language of anti-fascism of the 1940s. Churchill and Roosevelt, after all, still reign for us as icons. Although anti-fascism was also a Central European tradition, it had been drowned out, even trumped, by anti-imperialism and Third Worldism since the 1960s. But in recent years liberal and social democratic variations of the anti-fascism of the 1940s and 1950s have made common cause with a distinctive brand of left-liberalism that emerged first in Germany and then in Austria.

That's from an important essay by Jeffrey Herf in The New Republic. Do note the reference to the Euston Manifesto, to which I lent my own name straight out the blocks (I explained my reasons in this 2006 essay in the Globe and Mail). The manifesto grew out of what the Guardian's Keith Kahn-Harris last October called "the most serious split within the left since the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956," which is a reasonable assessment in an otherwise unreasonable speculation that the split is healing.

Three years ago, in his Atlantic magazine essay Whither The Antitotalitarian Left?, James Kirchick accurately predicted the retreat of the U.S. Democratic Party into an isolationist posture that he likened to "a feral crouch from which it is more suspicious of what the Western democracies do to protect themselves than it is with the plight of oppressed people abroad." A suitable description of Canada's New Democratic Party, that.

But a truly progressive politics keeps on erupting from the ashes of the old. See, for instance: Though Cowards Flinch And Traitors Sneer. Directly related: Antifaschismus: Shifting the Paradigm, In for The Long Haul. You'll find more adumbration than you will likely need in this conversation in Platypus Review: Afghanistan, Internationalism and The Left.

Who's To Blame For Pakistan's Agonies? 'Hindu Zionists and American Think-Tanks.'

Ahmed Rashid on Pakistan at the abyss: For a state whose economy is on the skids and dependent on the IMF for massive bailouts, whose elite refuse to pay taxes, whose army drains an estimated 20 percent of the country’s annual budget, Pakistan continues to insist that peace with India is impossible for decades to come. For a country that was founded as a modern democracy for Muslims and non-Muslims alike and claims to be the bastion of moderate Islam, it has the worst discriminatory laws against minorities in the Muslim world and is being ripped apart through sectarian and extremist violence by radical groups who want to establish a new Islamic emirate in South Asia.

And whose fault is this? Hindu Zionists. Plus certain unnamed and shadowy American thinktanks, as Sabrina Tavernise reported a few months ago, here, in her survey of a familiar idiocy: The problem is more than a peculiar domestic phenomenon for Pakistan. It has grown into a narrative of national victimhood that is a nearly impenetrable barrier to any candid discussion of the problems here. In turn, it is one of the principal obstacles for the United States in its effort to build a stronger alliance with a country to which it gives more than a billion dollars a year in aid.

Crippling stupidity of the urbane western pseudo-left variety here.

This is where it all leads: The Pakistani Taliban called the presence of foreign relief workers in this flood-ravaged country “unacceptable” on Thursday and obliquely suggested that militants could carry out attacks against members of aid groups, according to news reports.

In other words, another huge front just opened up in the war on humanitarianism. The quaintly-described "war in Afghanistan" is now approaching a crescendo of barbarism, and if "the west" is to be blamed at all, it is to be blamed for its half-baked commitment to democracy, the delusions and moral cowardice of its own bourgeois elites, and its myopia in allowing "our national security interests" to be cast against the fundamental, democratic rights of the people of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Don't blame the people.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anti-War Human Rights Activist Or Far-Right Racist Lunatic? I Bet You Can't Tell.

"Becky Akers is a freelance writer and historian who lives in New York." That's the tagline at the bottom of an essay in today's Ottawa Citizen that treats readers to a novel argument: Canada has nothing better to do with its time than to somehow come to the aid of both the tragically deranged jihad-boy Omar Khadr and the United States Constitution.

There's a laughing-stock weirdness to that. Why the hell should Canadians care nothing about our Afghan friends, but we should care deeply about some drippy Yank's eccentric reading of her dang constitution? There is also this gem: I don't know about you, but I would object if Afghanistan schemed to install an administration friendly to its interests in my country; it's reasonable that Afghans object when America does it to them. We'd probably also call our fellow citizens who battled the occupying Afghan army "freedom fighters," not "terrorists."

You should hear the language the vast majority of Afghans use to describe Akers' "freedom fighters." It would make your blood curdle. The word "terrorist" doesn't even come close.

You should also forgive yourself if you thought Akers is just another one of those dreary old bores who fancy themselves to be "left wing." After all, this particular bimbo eruption is of precisely the sort that is ubiquitous on the so-called "anti-war" left in this country. But Akers is in fact a far-right, drooling bigot ("Wetbacks!" "Chinks!") who says the United States shouldn't even have a standing army, let alone deploy its army in defence of such undeserving foreigners as Afghans. She can be found at all the usual places - LewRockwell, Counterpunch - vomiting out all the usual gibberish. Look it up yourself if you want. I'm not linking.

Which reminds me. Who uttered this slobbering racist gibberish: "We all have to go one day, but pray God let it not be over Afghanistan. An unspeakable country filled with unspeakable people, sheepshaggers and smugglers. . . I yield to none in my sympathy to those prostrate beneath the Russian jackboot, but if ever a country deserved rape it's Afghanistan.'"

Enoch "Rivers of Blood" Powell? Canada's homegrown racist demagogue Paul Fromm? Neither. It was that suave and sophisticated "left-wing" journalist and bon vivant Alexander Cockburn.

If it isn't obvious to you by now, my point is that there is no substantive or objective difference between what gibbering, far-right anti-gummint Yankee whackjobs have to say about Afghanistan and what Canada's self-flattering "left wing," "anti-war" langers have to say about Afghanistan.

Their polemics are interchangable. They share the same position. Like I pointed out the other day, reactionary scum are reactionary scum, the world round.

Monday, August 23, 2010

When your children are hungry, you'll accept help from anyone."

The camp was indistinguishable from several now operating across Pakistan, except for its sponsor: this one is run and funded by the charity arm of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. Today, Pakistani officials repeatedly insist that aid will not fall into the hands of extremist groups and that those groups won’t be allowed to take advantage of the crisis to increase their support. But this camp and others now operating in the flood-zone raise serious doubts about that argument.

The camp director told us he's operating with no restrictions. "We've been here since soon after the floods," he said, "and we have 17 camps all over the district." Starving and homeless, the victims weren't asking any questions.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Telling Lies About Aisha.

Cross-posted from The Propagandist:

Among the many defining features that unite the left and the right wings of reactionary isolationism in the rich countries of the world, abject moral squalor is perhaps the most noticeable and repulsive. It thrives by a cunning parasitism that requires of its ruling-class host only an acquiescence to its self-flattery as "the anti-war movement." All it requires of the rest of us is to be complicit in the lie.

In this way, moral leprosy has metasticized, and like so many undead zombies, "anti-war activists" require nothing but their own pathological solipsism to survive, and only a steady feed-supply of lies and deceptions to corrupt every debate about Afghanistan they choose to infect. Nowhere is this degeneracy more painfully evident than in the way the gangrene has spread throughout the public debates about the young Afghan woman Bibi Aisha, whose beautiful, disfigured face ended up on the cover of Time magazine a few days ago.

Remember that it is in the context of the prevailing "troops-out" sentiment now so deeply embedded in the western establishment along with the delusion of an "exit strategy" based on negotiations with the Taliban that the Time controversy erupted. That is why the zombies do not want you to see Aisha's face. But Aisha knew what she was doing, and why: "They are the people that did this to me," she says, touching her damaged face. "How can we reconcile with them?"

For her trouble, Aisha has now suffered the further indignity of having the most vicious calumny heaped upon her dignity and her bravery. The"anti-war" line is that she is a dirty liar. Aisha now stands accused of deliberately prostituting herself for war propaganda in exchange for reconstructive surgery, even though her accusers know full well that Aisha's surgery treatments in America were secured long before her face appeared on Time's cover.

The zombies have also slandered Aryn Baker, the respected Time correspondent who wrote the story. They have called Baker a secret propaganda stooge for the US military, they say she wrote the story about Aisha for the purpose of "bolstering the case for war," and they have even stooped to lying about Baker's Afghan husband, calling him a war profiteer. And they have sneered at Time magazine's unequivocal response: "Aryn Baker's husband has no connection to the U.S. military, has never solicited business from them and has no financial stake in the U.S. presence in Afghanistan whatsoever."

They have "problematized" the debate with a barrage of postmodernist psychobabble about "the other" and "objectifying" Aisha to "reify" imperialist fanatasies. They have said the whole thing is a CIA plot. They have claimed occult and personal prior knowledge of what Aisha's story is "really" about, when in fact Aisha's story appeared on American national television, twice, months before her face even appeared on the cover of Time magazine, here and here.

One lie after another. One filthy slander after another. One deception after another. Why?

This is why the zombies don't want you to see Aisha's face: “That is exactly what will happen,” said Manizha Naderi, referring to Aisha and cases like hers. An Afghan-American whose group Women for Afghan Women runs the shelter where Aisha stayed, Ms. Naderi said, “People need to see this and know what the cost will be to abandon this country.”

This why the "anti-war movement" tells such hysterical lies: Their troops-out politics, which have now so deeply poisioned establishment politics in Europe, Canada and the United States, run in precisely the opposite direction to what Afghan women want. Says WAW board member Esther Hyneman, a strong and tireless feminist I recently had the honour of meeting in Kabul - "Every woman who we have talked to in Afghanistan, all the Afghan women in the NGOs, in the government, say the United States and the peacekeeping troops and NATO must stay, they must not leave until the Afghan army is able to take over."

There is no plot. There is no secret agenda. And there is no moral difference between the "anti-war" lies you hear circulating about Aisha among western elites and the lies the Kabuli elites tell when they say Afghan women's shelters are merely whorehouses.

Reactionary scum are reactionary scum, the world round.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just Another Day On The Eastern Front.

A bit over the top: Jason Thomas, a former aid official in Afghanistan, opines that Afghan president Hamid Karzai's goal of phasing out foreign private security firms in the country is laudable, but it will make the place even more dangerous for foreign aid workers. That's because they will have to rely instead on the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army, "arguably two of the most corrupt and incompetent organizations in the country."

The move will quite likely make things more dangerous for certain foreigners, but it is a bit much for Thomas to cite as an example his jitters about the prospect of being subjected to a "shakedown" at a checkpoint in Kabul while carrying $250,000 in cash. He further hinders his case by slagging off the ANA and the ANP in that way - it certainly doesn't reflect the way ordinary Afghans view their cops and their soldiers.

I can't count the number of times I've been waved aside to be given the once-over at ANA and ANP checkpoints (even at the very traffic circle in Kabul Thomas mentions), while travelling with rough-looking Afghans in dodgy vehicles, besides, and certainly not giving the cops any cause to show me any special deference or even notice that I was a foreigner. And not once were the Afghan cops and soldiers anything less than polite and professional. A bit youthfully nervous and awkwardly new to their duties, maybe, but always at ease after a bit of teasing and cheerfulness.

There is no dearth of thieves and scamps among the tens of thousands of recent recruits to the ANP and the ANA, but it is the safety and the security of Afghans working for private Afghan security firms that might command a bit more of our attention, as this grisly incident shows. At least 21 (perhaps twice as many) private security guards are dead today after a savage night-time Taliban attacked a road-building project, "killing everyone, whoever was sleeping, and our guards were running away from their posts and Taliban were hitting them with their vehicles,” said Mohammed Tahir, one of the guards. “My brothers were working there, and I do not yet know what happened to them.”

But this is very encouraging news. Anything that tightens the noose around the necks of the white-collar extortionists, racketeers and ripoff artists who prey upon the Afghan people from their comfy sinecures in the most senior levels of the Afghan government is a thing to be hopeful and happy about.

This, however, is just the sort of dizzy sanctimony that rich white television journalists should take pains to avoid when they're giving out of themselves about Afghanistan. It's Katie Couric of CBS News talking about Afghan women: "Following the fall of the Taliban many got their first taste of freedom, education and possibility, and it seems particularly cruel to have it suddenly snatched away. Protecting human rights alone may not justify a massive military commitment, but whether you support this war or not, remember these people."

You'd be taken more seriously if you spent less time on your hair and more time on your spine, Ms. Couric. This is what Afghans are up against: An Afghan civilian was found dead and tied to a sign between two improvised explosion devices in Kandahar province today. The man had been shot in the head before being tied up. The IEDs appear to have been placed near his body to target first responders attempting to help him.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rebel Girl From Rebel Cork.

Cliona Campbell is a 19-year old student from Cork, in Ireland. She is something of a prodigy; in 2008, she was a finalist in the Young Journalist of the Year competition run by British broadcaster Sky News.

Last year, she won the essay-writing competition run by the law faculty at University College in Cork, one of the more prestigious institutions of higher education in Europe. She has, it would seem, everything going for her. Except that right now, Cliona lives in fear.

She's become an object of vilification in parts of the Irish press. Grown men have walked to up to her in the street and abused her. Browsing in a clothes store, the security guard recognized her and showered her with insults. Threats have been emailed to her. . .

- that's from Ben Cohen's latest column, in Huffington Post. This is from Cliona's article in the Evening Echo that started it all: "What makes a nice girl like you get involved with one of the most hated armies on earth?" That was her ma asking. A good question, well answered, and Cliona is holding her ground: Unbowed and right saucy.

A Warning To The War-Weary World: Just Watch What Your 'Peace' Will Bring You.

"First, a massacre campaign will start. The human cost in this country will easily be up to two million people killed, at least. It will not be big news for Afghanistan. We are used to tragedies, throughout our history. But the cost for you will be bigger."

The ousted Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh issued that warning in this recent interview. In the din and hopeful chatter about an impending NATO-backed Afghan exit strategy midwifed by a Karzai peace pact with the Taliban, Saleh's warning has gone almost completely unnoticed. This is exactly the way Afghan president Hamid Karzai and U.S. president Barack Obama would want it.

It is one thing for a nameless Afghan police commander to warn that a precipitous NATO withdrawal would reduce Afghanistan to such an abbatoir that "this time there will be so much blood you will smell it from as far away as London." It is quite another thing when such a warning comes from Amrullah Saleh. Until two months ago, when Karzai sacked him to shut him up, Saleh was the head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, a post he'd held with distinction since 2004.

This would not be the first time for Saleh's warnings to go unnoticed.

In 2001, Saleh was the youthful intelligence chief for the great anti-Taliban guerilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. On September 9, 2001, Saleh contacted Richard Blee, the head of the CIA's Al Qaida unit, with the heartbreaking news that Massoud had just been assassinated by an Al Qaida suicide-bomb squad posing as a team of French journalists, and disaster was imminent. For years, Massoud's forces had been warning the Americans of the coming conflagration. For weeks, Blee had been briefing the White House about a gathering cloud of evidence that Al Qaida was preparing for an attack on American interests. Blee took note of Saleh's warning, but the CIA failed to put two and two together. U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a Cold War hawk who'd been intimately complicit in America's horrible bungling in Afghanistan, connected the dots easily. "Something terrible was about to happen," Rohrabacher reckoned. That terrible thing unfolded only two days after Saleh's call. . .

- from my essay in today's Propagandist Magazine.

Today is World Humanitarian Day. The good that will come of it is that there will be opportunities to remember and honour the selfless bravery of war-zone aid workers. Well worth the read is this tribute, from Care International's Melanie Brooks, in memory of her friend Shirley Case, from 100 Mile House, British Columbia. Shirley was murdered in August, 2008, along with three other aid workers, in a Taliban ambush south of Kabul. Shirley and the others were unarmed, of course. They were doing fieldwork for a project that gives children with disabilities equal access to education.

The best and clearest articulation of the nature of the war in Afghanistan as it specifically relates to humanitarianism, can be found in an urgent declaration that has come our way, signed by several dozen Afghan intellectuals, poets, journalists, and academics. The declaration was issued in response to the August 5 assasination of ten aid workers in Badakhshan: These crimes are against human beings, not just “foreigners” or “Afghans.” These are crimes against human beings, and it does not matter what religion those human beings follow, or whether they follow no religion. . . We must grow gardens of knowledge, and teach ourselves and others to follow the International Declaration of Human Rights. Religions and all “isms” are made for humans, to serve humans. We accept no justification from religion to kill any human being.

The ridiculous aspect of World Humanitarian Day is that the world over, the news media will be dutifully performing stenographic services for the grave and ritualistic utterances of various politicians and high officials. In this, a typical example, we read: "Afghanistan is a very difficult and dangerous environment in which to deliver aid," says Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs. "Canada continues to call for unhindered access for humanitarian workers and encourages all parties to promote the safety of aid workers.” Robert Watkins, special representative of the UN secretary general, chimes in: "Aid workers operate on the principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Humanitarian workers must be protected - not targeted.”

If it's not obvious why this is ridiculous, it may be because the delusional basis of these appeals is staring you right in the face. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is not going to provide "unhindered access" to aid workers, and will not promote their safety, precisely because the Taliban hope and intend to murder aid workers, quite deliberately. Reading the UN's appeals, you'd think they were asking the jerries to mind where they're bombing when the Red Cross trucks are rambling down a backroad in Brittany. You'd think the Taliban's murder campaign against aid workers is something that happens merely because of the Taliban's lack of due diligence in respecting their safe passage.

Killing aid workers is what the Taliban does. It is what the Taliban wants to do. But read the four principles Watkins mentions as though they were some sort of pass you could wave under a Talib's nose so he won't chop your head off. It is precisely because these are the principles that govern a humanitarian aid worker's service that the Taliban targets them and kills them. It is precisely because the delivery of humanitarian aid in a place like Afghanistan cannot be "autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold" that it is delusional to carry on in this way.

But that is precisely how the UN's most senior officials and certain NGO bosses have been carrying on, to the great disservice of aid workers and to the great benefit of the Taliban. The UN's insistence that it can be somehow held above the fray has caused very specific harm to NATO's efforts to bring stability and the rule of law to Taliban-held areas.

It is no state secret that the pivotal Operation Marja in southern Afghanistan has been going rather less than well. The point of Operation Marja was to rapidly clear the district of Taliban gangsters and proceed immediately to the quick delivery of basic services like schools, clinics, and job programs. Only days before the Operation began, the UN issued a surprise announcement that it was bailing out because its involvement might be construed by the Taliban to be “the militarization of humanitarian aid.” Wael Haj-Ibrahim,a UN bigshot in Afghanistan, explained the decision thus: “If that aid is being delivered as part of a military strategy, the counterstrategy is to destroy that aid.”

Delusional. It doesn't matter whether you're delivering aid as part of a military reconstruction operation or not. The Taliban will kill you anyway. The work Shirley Case and her colleagues were doing wasn't part of any military strategy. The Taliban butchered them anyway.

It is just as delusional to imagine that the struggle in Afghanistan is a "war" in any conventional sense of the term. If it is a war at all, it is a war on humanitarianism, a war on women, a war on the poor, a war on education, and a war on the very notion of the paramountcy of "life and health" and "respect for human beings" that the UN cites among the foundational principles of humanitarianism.

As Samantha Power makes clear: "Neither the blue flag nor the red cross is enough to protect humanitarians in an age of terror." Sarah Chayes has been working "outside the wire" in Kandahar for several years now and puts the point even more directly. You can wear a helmet or an Oxfam t-shirt, it won't matter: "The only place as dangerous to be as a NATO military convoy is a clearly marked humanitarian vehicle."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goodbye Pakistan?

The Sound of Pennies Dropping:

1. Pakistan's main spy agency says homegrown Islamist militants have overtaken the Indian army as the greatest threat to national security, a finding with potential ramifications for relations between the two rival South Asian nations and for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. A recent internal assessment of security by the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's powerful military spy agency, determined that for the first time in 63 years, it expects a majority of threats to come from Islamist militants, according to a senior ISI officer.

2. Much now depends on the ability of the government and its foreign allies to bring relief to flood victims. Tens of thousands of Pakistani troops and virtually the army’s entire helicopter fleet are now involved in the effort. But its resources are way overstretched, and for months to come the army is unlikely to be in a position to even hold the areas along the Afghan border that it has recently won back from the militants, let alone initiate any new campaigns against the Taliban. That means the war in Afghanistan is about to become even more bloody.

3. Pakistan has taken an awfully long time to understand that it faces an unprecedented terrorist threat that is not a result of conspiracies hatched in Washington, New Delhi or Tel-Aviv, as many in the public believe, but that is the result of the Pakistani state’s nurturing of extremist groups since the 1970s.

4. There appears to be a deeper reason that the global community is not responding as generously to Pakistan today: that country’s rampant corruption and links to Islamic terrorism. Quite simply, there is grave suspicion that aid will end up in the wrong hands: those of the Taliban.

UNICEF Canada is here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How The Troops-Out Whirlwind Reaps Its Own Rewards.

The only question now is whether the damage is irreparable.

It was only a few months ago that the Afghan women's leadership - 200 women's organizations, meeting in Kabul - was unequivocal about the lurid peace-talks exit-strategy counselled by the self-proclaimed "anti-war" movement in the rich countries of the west: "Based on the persistent violation of the rights of women and men by the Taliban whether when in power or after, objections were clearly and strongly expressed by all parties participating in this meeting regarding any negotiation with the Taliban."

Their eight-point consensus statement was crystal clear. The International Declaration of Human Rights is "non-negotiable," there should be no power-sharing with criminals, the names of Taliban leaders should not be struck from UN terrorist lists, and so on. As Mary Akrami, director of the Afghan Women Skills Development Centre, explained: "There cannot be national security without women's security, there can be no peace when women's lives are fraught with violence, when our children can't go to schools, when we cannot step on the streets for fear of acid attacks."

Even in the Pashtun heartland - or perhaps especially there - progressive voices were united on the issue. In their Peshawar Declaration last December, Pakhtunkwa's socialists and pro-democratic parties warned about the looming sell-out. Among the declaration's key pleadings, endorsed by a broad coalition that includes the Awami National Party and the traditional "Red Shirt" secularists: "NATO and ISAF are sent to Afghanistan under UN mandate. NATO and ISAF should stay in Afghanistan until terrorism is uprooted, foreign interference in Afghanistan must be stopped and the institutions of army and police are established on solid footings."

Nowadays, even the bravest of Afghan feminists are resigning themselves to the triumph of the pacifist appeasement so long and fervently championed by the west's self-styled "progressives," and the best they can hope for now is a place for themselves in peace talks with their dreaded enemy, as Aryn Baker reports in Time magazine. But as Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, warns: "If you try to settle the conflict in a way that sacrifices human rights in the name of peace, you will end up with neither."

Meanwhile, in the chattering classes, peace for Afghan women and the rights of Afghan women matter as nothing compared to the sanctimony of being "against the war." In the Observer, once a British flagship of progressive internationalism, we read, on the very day Malinowksi's warning appeared in the Washington Post, that Afghan women simply aren't worth fighting and dying for. The writer approvingly cites the subordination of women as Pashtun broodstock - "it works" - and implores us to look rather more kindly upon the Taliban: "They are not beyond redemption."

And so, as though to prove in the most lurid way that the pen really is mightier than the sword, Afghans across the spectrum are preparing for betrayal and abandonment. In Afghanistan, terrorism has worked. It has played the cowardice of the western bourgeoisie like a fiddle. Afghans know this only too well.

Only last week, Afghanistan's clerics decided that the best way to ease the anticipated reintegration of the Taliban into the circles of power in the country is to officially revive barbaric practices derived from 9th-century readings of Sharia law, including stonings, lashing, amputation and execution.

In a 10-point consensus issued at the end of their conclave, more than 300 clerics declared: "The lack of implementation of sharia hodud (punishment) has cast a negative impact on the peace process. We the ulema and preachers of Afghanistan ... earnestly ask the government not to spare any efforts in the implementation of sharia hodud."

Meanwhile, a dispatch from Kunduz: A man and woman have been stoned to death on orders from the Taliban. The 23-year-old woman and 28-year-old man were killed because “they had an affair,” said Mohammad Ayob, the governor of Imam Sahib district.

That is what "peace" looks like. That is what "troops out" looks like.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

No Vertigo.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ramadan Mubarak!

Remember these things the next time you find yourself confronted by some doofus who wants you to join him in instructing Barack Obama or Stephen Harper to "stop the war." Notice that the doofus will profess to be left wing, but when he's talking about Muslims he can't help but resort to the terms "they" and "them," and he will look you straight in the eye when he's saying "we" and "us." All I can think to do when I'm stuck in such awkward situations is to ask: What the hell do you mean, "we"?

From such geezers of the "right-wing" sort, I can't count the number of times I have heard this plaintive question: Why don't "they" do something about all these jihadists? Why don't "they" speak up? It's everything I can do to keep my temper and simply point out that in the company I happen to keep, among those I would consider to be the bravest anti-Islamists and the most fervent partisans of democracy, toleration, secularism and freedom, the overwhelming majority happen to be Muslims.

It might also be useful to remember all those Muslims who would be the first to defend democracy and freedom, but they can't, because they are dead.

- from my contribution to today's Propagandist Magazine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Antifaschismus: Shifting The Paradigm, In For The Long Haul.

Because fealty to one's paradigm always trumps neutral consideration of the bald facts, the popular shift from one paradigm to the next is invariably slow and excruciating.

Something very similar occurs in politics, our good friend Ben Cohen observes, in the first instalment of his sympathetic critique of Yoram Hazony's expansive essay, Israel Through European Eyes, in today's Propagandist Magazine.

I'm reluctant to trespass too intimately among these smart guys, but I will confess to my own quibble with Hazony's important analysis: I would want a bit more precision.

For instance, Hazony writes about the fashionable demonization of Israel this way: "It is driven by the rapid advance of a new paradigm that understands Israel, and especially the independent Israeli use of force to defend itself, as illegitimate down to its foundations. If you believe that Israel is, in some important sense, a variant on Nazism, then you just aren’t going to be very impressed by “improvements” in Israeli policies or PR. An improved Auschwitz is still Auschwitz."

It seems to me that the paradigm Hazony so helpfully examines is only "new" to the extent that it is ascendant and increasingly entrenched in liberal establishment thinking. Thankfully, that paradigm is also increasingly vulnerable to Hazoney's analysis, which draws from the same robust approach that informs Jeffrey Herf, author of Nazi Propaganda from The Arab World, in a fascinating conversation with the brave anti-fascist writer Karl Pfeifer:

I think it is also the case as advocates of the paradigm whose key words are “third world,” “anti-imperialism,” “Orientalism,” “sub-altern studies” and in the case of the Middle East, “anti-Zionism” tied themselves in knots when faced with clear evidence that some very important Arab, Palestinian and Islamist leaders, such as Haj Amin el-Husseini, enthusiastically, willingly and effectively collaborated with the Nazi regime, shared its hatred of the Jews as Jews, and played a major role the cultural fusion of Nazi and Islamist—not Islamic—forms of anti-Semitism.

They will indeed "tie themselves into knots." Here we have the red-fascist demagogue George Galloway doing what he does best, opening a new propaganda campaign for Islamist fascism aimed at the west's liberal intelligentsia. Here we have one of Galloway's most slavish admirers in the Canadian establishment media, doing Galloway's propaganda for him. The clear evidence against Galloway hasn't made a jot of difference. He'll be warmly embraced. As he is here. Do you really need more?

Unreconstructed white fascists are also enjoying their recrudescence in Europe, as Karl Pfeifer, whose interview with Jeff Herf I just mentioned, amply illustrates in this chilling account. Here's a lovely gentleman for you: “I am not an anti-Semite, but an a-Semite. This means a world without Jews, a Hungarian society free of Jews.”

Don't kid yourself. This is not just about merely words, yesterday, and ideas. It's about deeds, today, life, and death.

Here are a few friends the white fascists have only recently murdered: Activists Alexei Krylov, Ivan Khutorskoi, Alexander Ryukhin Fyodor Filatov, Ilya Dzhaparidze, Stanislav Markelov, Nikolai Girenko, Alexander Ryukhin; lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and journalist Anastasia Baburova.

Less than a week ago, fascists of the Islamist variety murdered Glen Lapp, Tom Little, Dan Terry, Thomas Grams, Cheryl Beckett, Brian Carderelli, Karen Woo, Daniela Beyer, Mahram Ali, and Jawed. It happened this way: The first sign of danger was the crackle of gunfire over their heads. Ten gunmen, their faces covered, rushed toward terrified humanitarian workers and began shouting "Satellite! Satellite!" — a demand to surrender their phones. Moments later, 10 of them lay dead, including two women hiding in the back seat of a car the attackers hit with a grenade.

If what is happening is not clear to you by now, you really need to do something about your paradigm.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pseudo-Left 'Hero' And War Criminal Julian Assange Takes A Deserved Lashing.

It's too bloody late, of course, but still.

In the matter of Amnesty International, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Kabul office of the International Crisis Group Versus the WikiLeaks "hero" Julian Assange:

We have seen the negative, sometimes deadly ramifications for those Afghans identified as working for or sympathizing with international forces. We strongly urge your volunteers and staff to analyze all documents to ensure that those containing identifying information are taken down or redacted.

Here's how the foppish, arrogant bastard responded: I'm very busy and have no time to deal with people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses. If Amnesty does nothing I shall issue a press release highlighting its refusal.

The cheek of it. Recklessly endanger the lives of scores of the most brave and innocent of our Afghan comrades, all for the juvenile purpose of sticking it to the man, and then demand Amnesty International help clean up the damage he's caused by his own unpardonable negligence and narcissism. Refuse, the toff warns, and "I shall issue a press release."

Julian Assange may well be a hero to the bourgeois left in the rich countries of the world, but he is a vile enemy of the people. He deserves no mercy for what he has done. He has exposed the bravest and most vulnerable of forward-thinking Afghans to retributive assassination by the Taliban and other counter-revolutionary elements in Afghanistan.

The UN today reports a near doubling of the Taliban's use of assassinations to terrorize Afghans who would work for their own government or cooperate with the institutions of the international community in their country. Assassinations averaged 3.6 a week last year. In May and June this year assassinations skyrocketed to an average 18 a week. Teachers, doctors, tribal elders, community leaders, provincial and district officials have all been targeted.

No excuses for Assange. He is an accessory to the terror that persists in oppressing the Afghan people and in preventing the workers of Afghanistan, by the most savage means imaginable, from the lawful exercise of their most fundamental rights. He is a willing accomplice in the subjugation and brutalization of the people. He is guilty.

No more yesbuttery. No more indulgence. No tolerance, no clemency, no mercy.

There Are No Kings Inside The Gates of Eden

"Lord Swinton knows perfectly well what he is doing."

Julian Assange Is A War Criminal.

The documents Assange made public exposed the identities of at least 100 Afghans who were informing on the Taliban -- in some cases including the names of their villages, family members, the Taliban commanders on whom they were informing, and even GPS coordinates where they could be found. The Taliban quickly announced that it was combing the WikiLeaks Web site for information to use to punish these Afghans.

Then, just four days after the WikiLeaks documents were published death threats began arriving at the homes of Afghan tribal leaders. A few days later, one such leader was dragged from his home and executed. It is unknown whether his identity was exposed in the WikiLeaks documents, but according to Newsweek, his execution and the death threats "sparked a panic among many Afghans who have worked closely with coalition forces."

. . . Because They Know The Consequences.

AFP - The Taliban publicly flogged and then executed a pregnant Afghan widow by firing three shots into her head for alleged adultery, police said on Monday. Bibi Sanubar, 35, was kept in captivity for three days before she was shot dead in a public trial on Sunday by a local Taliban commander in the Qadis district of the rural western province Badghis.

The Taliban accused Sanubar of having an "illicit affair" that left her pregnant. She was first punished with 200 lashes in public before being shot.

Hope And Change.

Iran’s Islamic Azad University, which has more than 400 locations, has opened a branch in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The Kabul site is the university’s fourth international center after those in the U.K., the U.A.E. and Lebanon, according to its president, Abdollah Jassbi, the state-run Fars news agency reported today.

You Hope. They Change.

New Delhi is concerned about the ramifications of the possible U.S. troop drawdown, announced by President Barack Obama last year. That decision accelerated the Afghan government's efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and America's hurry to hand over responsibility for running the country to the Hamid Karzai administration. India worries that Washington is moving too fast and leaving the door open for Pakistan to increase its influence in the country. In response, India is hedging its bets by drawing closer to Russia and Iran.

Say Goodbye To Hilary, Say Hello To Mohammad.

Mohammad Ali Fatollahi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said his country was planning to host an international conference on Afghanistan in Tehran as a next step to last month’s Kabul conference, attended by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Tehran has intensified talks with New Delhi, Islamabad and Dushanbe over the future of Afghanistan in recent weeks. The move comes as concerns rise among some countries neighbouring Afghanistan about a possible reconciliation with the Taliban and ultimately its return to political power in Kabul.

From George Orwell's Latest Diary Entry: Wells has already made a considerable row about the persecution of refugees. He considers that the centre of all sabotage is the War Office. He believes that the jailing of anti-Fascist refugees is a perfectly conscious piece of sabotage.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All.

Taliban bombers have killed 12 Afghan construction workers in two separate incidents in the eastern part of the country. Nine of the workers were killed in Bar Kunar, and three others were murdered in Ghazni, where the beheaded body of parliamentary candidate Najibullah Gulistani was dumped on a road last Friday near his home. Further, ten workers on a medical aid mission - two Afghan interpreters, a German, a Briton and six Americans - have been murdered in Badakhshan.

In July, there were nearly 300 acts of counterrevolutionary terror committed against Afghan civilians - more than 160 murders and assaults and more than 100 cases of coercion, including extortion, prohibiting girls from attending school, and attacks on development projects. During July alone, the Taliban killed 220 civilians and injured more than 360. Since January, Taliban bombers have murdered more than 400 Afghan civilians and injured more than 860 (Canada has lost 151 soldiers in the Afghan struggle, since 2001).

Credit for the slaughter of the medical aid workers is being claimed by the usual reactionary elements - both the Pakistani proxy, the Taliban, and by the Khomeinist-favoured Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Among the dead is Briton Karen Woo, a surgeon and volunteer with the NGO Bridge Afghanistan. She was in charge of the mission's mother-and-child clinics. Also murdered was American optometrist Tom Little, a beloved friend of the Afghan people and the guiding force behind the National Organization for Ophthalmic Rehabilitation, which runs about a dozen "eye camps" providing care to roughly 225,000 Afghans, including more than 14,000 surgeries, every year.

All this is to say that sooner or later, a winning strategy - one that has been proven to actually work - will have to be adopted.

For only thus can we deflate the enemy's arrogance and raise the people's morale. If we are weak and irresolute, if we are tolerant and indulgent, it will bring harm to the people and alienate us from the masses. To strike surely means to pay attention to tactics. To strike accurately means to avoid wrong executions. To strike relentlessly means resolutely to kill all such reactionary elements as deserve the death penalty (of course, those who don't will not be executed). So long as we avoid wrong executions, we don't have to worry even if the bourgeoisie raises an outcry.

From each according to one's abilities. To each according to one's needs.

For an end to slavery. One day, the people will win.

(Update: In memoriam. Regards to Mark Collins).

Friday, August 06, 2010

For Palestinian Rights, For Peace And Freedom: Free Mohamed Abu Muailek.

"They will say that I am a collaborator, and I don’t care much because I know that I am on the right side and that I’m telling the truth for the people to know. That they must not be afraid to tell the truth because these are the basics of a real Muslim – to tell the truth and be a peaceful man whether it kills him or gives him new life."

Mohamed Abu Muailek is a Palestinian, a former militant who once fired rockets from Gaza into Israel. It was only partly because of an internet friendship with one of the "enemy" that Mohamed changed his mind. He'd decided that violence was wrong and he became a dissident, arguing that Palestinians should seek co-existence with Israel.

Hounded by Hamas, he is now in jail facing a likely death penalty.

Internationally renowned film-maker and journalist Paul Martin who had been filming with Mohamed, went to Gaza to give evidence, but was himself arrested, accused of spying and threatened with execution. He was set free in March this year, but Mohamed remains under threat of death.

Mohamed is not a spy. He is a dissident. Publicity and international pressure may provide his only chance for survival. Facebook group here.

Khaled Abu Toameh asks: When was the last time the United Nations Security Council met to condemn an Arab government for its mistreatment of Palestinians?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

More On Iran, Julian "Guantanamo Is Auschwitz" Assange, and Aisha.

James Kirchick, whom I've long admired, has pointed out one of the unintended benefits of WikiLeaks' archgeek Julian Assange's grossly irresponsible but otherwise spectacularly successful act of sticking it to the man, here.

Assange believes that by leaking information about the frustrated war effort in Afghanistan, he will sap American will. In truth, by revealing the extent of Iranian aid to Sunni radicals, he only confirmed what astute observers have long known.

That is, we've been at war with Iran for years. It is a war declared by Iran, which has been killing our soldiers and allies in various theaters. But it is a war a reluctant America has refused to recognize it is fighting. Perhaps the WikiLeaks deluge will change that complacency. . .

I'm not counting on anyone's complacency being disturbed, but it is gratifying that the Khomeinists' sinister influence in Afghanistan, which I've been on about for a while, (and which one doesn't have to be especially astute to know about) is coming to some wider notice.

As for Aisha, the 18-year-old Afghan woman whose impertinence has so upset the stoppists who consider themselves her betters, the always clued-in Joshua Foust reminds one of her detractors:

The point isn’t when she was mutilated, but who ordered her mutilation, and who took a knife to her face. She was mutilated by the Taliban, and that the ragged holes where her nose and ears used to be are what the Taliban deign justice in regard to women and girls. More of that brutality is one of the results we would see from an expansion of Taliban control in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch’s latest report about what women’s lives are like in Taliban-controlled areas now is a grim reminder that the Taliban are just as eager and willing to torture, terrorize and murder women as they were nine years ago.

As a bonus, here's Joshua's take on the Wikileaks' caper:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A Dispatch From Our Most Trusted Correspondent, Filing From A Faraway Place.

The new land is quite welcoming in its way. Everybody smiles encouragingly and there appears to be absolutely no racism. A generally egalitarian spirit prevails, and those who run the place have obviously got where they are on merit and hard work. As against that, the humor is a touch feeble and repetitive, there seems to be almost no talk of sex, and the cuisine is the worst of any destination I have ever visited.

Pluck and ginger.

Who's The Imperialist Now?

I. The Iranian embassy in Kabul has lodged a complaint with the Electoral Complaints Commission against Najibullah Kabuli, a private TV channel owner and candidate for parliamentary elections. The embassy accused Kabuli of insulting the Iranian government. Kabuli is the owner of a private TV channel which was closed by government on July 27 for inciting sectarian tension and threatening national unity. He has led several protests in the past against Iran, which he accuses of interfering in Afghanistan's domestic affairs.

II. Iran and Afghanistan have reached an agreement to open an international university in an effort to promote Persian language and literature.

III. Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani has said Afghanistan will become a Vietnam for the US.

IV. The Imam Khomeini Relief Committee is part of Iran's larger goal of using soft power to gain influence in Afghanistan and throughout the region. An ostensible charity, it actively promotes Iran's ideological and political goals in Afghanistan. In particular, it promotes Shiism and incites anti-American sentiment.

V. Iran is engaged in an extensive covert campaign to arm, finance, train and equip Taliban insurgents, Afghan warlords allied to al-Qaida and suicide bombers.

VI. Iran has embarked on a series of ambitious projects to revive the historic Silk Road, moves aimed at expanding its regional influence and overcoming Western efforts to isolate it.

VII. Afghan President Hamid Karzai will pay an official visit to Iran to attend a tripartite summit, Afghan presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said on Tuesday. Without giving more details, he said that a high ranking delegation will also accompany the president in his tour to Iran.