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<nettime> The people in Afghanistan (formerly Afghan women)
gita on Mon, 8 Oct 2001 04:12:07 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The people in Afghanistan (formerly Afghan women)

What baffles me is this: If the original posting was meant to point 
at the American activist groups and their seemingly contradictory 
stance, why did the subject read "Afghan women"?

What concerns me is a much more serious angle to this debate:

Currently, the Northen Alliance in Afghanistan is closing in on 
Taliban with British and American (and apparently, Russian) aid.  The 
war we are preaching against is already being waged.  In fact, war 
has been a constant for over 20 years in Afghanistan.  The Northern 
Alliance is a network of warlords who were beaten by the Taliban in 
the civil war that subsumed the country after the defeat of the 
Soviets.  In this war, all sides, including the diverse forces in the 
Northern Allinace, have committed attrocities against the civilian 
Afghanis.  While the prospect of being ruled by the Northen Alliance 
(or will there be in-fighting among the allies once Taliban are 
disposed of?) is as grim a future as any as far as peace is concerned 
(for who is there to stop genocidal impulses against the Taliban and 
their supporters?), supporting them in their current attack on the 
Taliban clearly has advantages for the U.S. and British warlords. 
Much of the sentiments among the Muslim populations and even within 
secular forces in the region is against increased American and 
British military presence and their direct attack on Afghanistan. 
All fundamentalist regimes, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, 
the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates 
(including Qatar, which is supportive of Osama Bin Ladin) stand the 
danger of uncontrolable popular sentiments tiding up against their 
current governments if it was going to be American and British 
soldiers entering Afghanistan and they weren't to oppose it.  There 
have been daily demonstrations on the streets in Pakistan, and today 
the government of Parviz Musharaf (boycotted as anti-democratic prior 
to 11/09) had to take a public measure against these sentiments by 
putting a Muslim leader under house arrest.  While all of these 
regimes are closely tied (economically and politically) to the U.S. 
and Britain and other Western corporate regimes or are sucking up for 
closer connections (like the so-called moderate Khatami government in 
Iran and General Musharaf's in Pakistan), their survival is at risk 
if they seem too enthusiasticly pro-Western.  So one of the 
strategies currently followed is to let the Afghanis fight the 
Afghanis, and, of course, it's pretty clear who is going to win the 
war and with whose support.

In all this, it is the draught-stricken, war-stricken and 
disenfranchaized majority of Afghanistan's civilian population that 
do not enter the power equations except as numbers: over 3,000,000 
Afghani refugees (only a small well-to-do fraction of them residing 
in the West) prior to 11/09, and an as-yet-unestimated number on the 
move toward the borders.  One of the factors that has so far 
prevented U.S. outright attacks on Afghnistan has been the question 
of the regime that is to succeed the Taliban's.  With the Northen 
Alliance all built up and ready to fight to take over, not only this 
problem has been solved, but a the risk of a direct attack that could 
be prolonged has been lessened.  So while President Bush proclaims 
his new-found belief in Islam as a peace-loving religion, and the 
North American mainstream public is busy outpouring their patriotism 
in tears of mourning and revenge, and most activist groups are busy 
countering the (now unappologetically open) racism and the direct 
attacks on civil liberties here at home, the scenario unfolding in 
Afghanistan goes unnoticed.  The Northen Alliance's track prior and 
on the way to their retreat to the north has been well documented. 
There are reports and images of their attrocities on the website of 
the Revolutionary Alliance of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA, who, by 
the way, neither profess Islam nor insist on being model American 
citizens even though they go on Oprah's show to collect support) at 
http://www.rawa.org.  There is no reason to believe that the Northern 
Alliance has undergone an ethical evolution and mended its genocidal 
ways.  Is this the regime that the majority of people in Afghanistan 
really want to see in power were they to have a say in what happens 
to them in their land?  Is this what we (this is a rhetorical "we" 
with shifting boundaries) want to see after the Taliban?  How many 
deaths and how much destruction can Afghanistan sustain?  How many 
dead Afghanis can we live with?

A week ago, I participated in an on-line chat that accompanied a 
radio call-in show in Canada.  In response to the questions that I 
posed above, one of the most vocal participants wrote: "Sometimes you 
have to hold your nose and do what you have to do."  I don't believe 
in wasting my energy trying to persuade someone who clearly has so 
little regard and concern for the life of Afghani people.  His view 
has little to do with strategic pragmatism and more with latent 
racism.  But, in earnest, I have a question to pose:

What is(are) our ethical intellectual and/or activist 
responsibility(ies) in the current situation with respect to the life 
and fate of the people of Afghanistan AFTER the Taliban?  This is an 
issue that must enter our public debates, and be prioritized in our 
strategies of actions.

Tragically, just as I have come to the end of these lines, the first 
news of American air attack on Kabul has come in (12:20 Eastern 
daylight time).  Are the people of Afghanistan the next Iraqies?

Be well and demand peace.


At 1:20 AM -0400 10/7/01, dan s wang wrote:

>I can also imagine the Afghan women not wanting to be put on display
>as 'Exhibit #1: the Victims.' So this is not all about guilt-tripping,

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