Thursday, October 06, 2011

"Bringing Afghanistan's Democrats Out Of The Shadows."

It is fitting that Terry Glavin begins his book Come from the Shadows: the Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan with a quote from George Orwell — who once said it is not enough to oppose fascism; one must stand against totalitarianism in all its forms.

Orwell, a far-left anti-fascist who took a bullet in the throat while fighting Franco’s brutes during the Spanish Civil War, was angered by the inability of too many of his fellow leftists to counter dictatorial thuggery in those with whom they shared a common enemy. Stalinists got a free pass because, ostensibly, they opposed fascism; they didn’t deserve it.

Glavin, also of the left, is frustrated by the limits of his supposed comrades’ solidarity and internationalism. Afghanistan’s democrats — its students, human rights activists, women, socialists and secularists — should, by rights, be championed and supported by the western left. They are, after all, fighting for the same things liberals in Canada struggled for and earned over the last century. What’s more, they’re fighting for these rights against an explicitly fascistic strain of religious and ethnic extremism embodied in the Taliban.

Instead, much of the left over the last decade has preferred to rally against make-believe fascism and imperialism in the United States or Britain, rather than recognizing its real mutations in places like Baghdad, Tehran, and Kandahar. The NDP, for one, has distinguished itself only by the degree to which it has counseled abandoning those Afghans most deserving of our friendship. “Support our troops; bring ‘em home,” the party declared, aping an isolationism that Glavin rightly derides as “paleoconservative.”

That's from the indispensable Michael Petrou, writing in Macleans.


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