Sunday, May 10, 2009

We must never forget the Taliban horror

Saying "troops out of Afghanistan now" is based on shocking levels of short memory. How is letting the Taliban death-cult in through the back door supposed to be progressive and left-wing?

This blog has always unequivocally opposed the Iraq war and its mismanagement. Afghanistan, however, offers a radically different picture.

The recent US air-strike and the controversy over the number of civilian casualties in the province of Farah have reminded the world that thousands of Western troops are still bogged down in that country and that no end is in sight.

However, it would be difficult to deny that if NATO troops left Afghanistan tomorrow, it would probably take five minutes for the whole country to be regained by the Taliban. For some people, this isn't our problem.

Sure, "liberated" Afghanistan is still struggling with deeply entrenched misogynism and a terrifying series of problems. But as much as each US air-strike going wrong may feel like a disgrace and more should be done to avoid civilian casualties, it is also impossible to feel any sympathy for the supporters of a regime who made "WE LOVE DEATH MORE THAN YOU DO LIFE" their call to arms.

The Taliban regime that held Afghanistan hostage between 1996 and 2001 is possibly one of the most disgusting ones in living memory. Drenched in ideology, its basic tenet was an utmost state of paranoia and obsession with vice and virtue that were used to justify a mind-boggling series of prohibitions. Life in Taliban Afghanistan must have felt like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a succession of people pointing the finger at other people the other side of the road, shouting that they were not "pure and virtuous" enough.

As part of their war on women, the Taliban decided that even the Iranian chador was to be banned as "stimulating" and "sexually attractive". Women were only allowed to wear the burqa. Kept in a state of apartheid that would make 1970's South Africa look liberal by comparison, women were banned from working and even from receiving any kind of education. Households were required to blacken their windows so that no woman could be seen from outside. They couldn't even speak loudly in public lest a stranger should hear a woman's voice. All Afghani females could do was to be used as reproductive machines. Nothing more.

The feast of prohibitions, however went further. Movies, television, videos, music, dancing, hanging pictures in homes, clapping during sports events, kite flying, and beard trimming. Satellite dishes, cinematography, stereos, pool tables, chess, masks, alcohol, tapes, computers, anything that propagates sex and is full of music, wine, lobster, nail polish, firecrackers, statues, sewing catalogs, pictures, Christmas cards. In 2001, the Taliban also issued a decree ordering non-Muslims to wear distinctive yellow patches.

It doesn't take much of a logical leap to conclude that implementing such a regime must have required industrial doses of violence, death, terror and brutality.

As recent as December 2008, the Taliban controlling the areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan issued official death threats towards any girl attending school. In the process over 100 schools were blown up and 17,000 students deprived of education.

Short memory is integral to human nature. And it must be this, and a nice set of blinkers no doubt, that is prompting some people on the left to cry that the Americans cannot and "should not bring Afghanistan into submission with bombs". The Stop the War coalition says that "only the Afghan people themselves can generate a political solution to their country’s problems".

Except that they don't explain how. So perhaps they mean the same way millions fled the Taliban regime throughout the 90s. Or a repeat of the Hazara Afghanis running for their lives. Or the way women weren't allowed to receive medical treatment.

Should we let them sort it out by themselves? Why doesn't John Pilger talk about it? Why doesn't George Galloway? Tony Benn? Lindsey German?

The question of what would happen if Western troops left tomorrow is obviously not part of their preoccupations. They've obviously forgotten that the whole country was already humiliated into submission, that the Talibani created - to quote Amnesty International - "the world's largest single refugee group", and that millions of women were treated worse than animals in a laboratory and that no American war blunder is worse than a genocidal death cult with absolutely zero respect for any human life.

To find out more about the oppression of women under the Taliban regime, visit the
Feminist Majority Foundation website.


Selma said...

Perhaps the author of this poor excuse for Imperialist propaganda like to talk about western support of the Taliban? No? You see the Taliban could have been defeated easily - by stopping support for them. The idea that Britain and America went into Afghanistan to save the women or any other group that suffered under the Taliban requires nothing short of a Labotomy!

claude said...

As far as the Western support for the Taliban, you're knocking on an open door. One of the many Frankensteins fostered by the CIA.

However, that was twenty years ago plus. This is now. So what do we do?

Excuse for "Imperialist propaganda"? Myself? That's a good one...

Selma said...

Actually the supoport for the Taliban didnt stop with their creation as you no doubt know. What should we do now? The Imperialists should end this illegal aggression and get out of the country as the presence of an occupying foreign power only strengthens the Taliban due to the resentment it produces in the general population. Then they stop any covert support for the Taliban and any other regressive groups that might be currently supported for strategic and/or geopolitico reasons, how does that sound?. Finally, when you are supporting Imperialism with one of the excuses bandied about by the very Imperialist powers engaged in said Imperialism then I think I am quite justified in characterising what you write as an excuse for Imperialist propaganda dont you think?

claude said...

No Selma. I DON'T think so.
And I also think that in both your rants there was NOT a SINGLE word condemning what the Taliban have done to Afghan women or their horrendously oppressive ideology.

Therefore, I think I am quite justified in characterising what you write as an excuse for Taliban oppression, don't you think?

Stan Moss said...

have you watched The Kite Runner?

Selma said...

Stan, I havent watched the Kite runner. Dont have a TV. Perhaps you could summarise.
Claude, It pains me that I'm going to have to prove you wrong but I think you should probably read up on your history. To facilitate this I will provide some links:

As you can see in the last link the US were publicly 'courting' the Taliban as late as 97/98. This is hardly twenty odd years ago, is it?
Do you really think the troops are helping women beyond the usual insubstantial PR events that the Imperialists usually engage in. Do you really think they are there to help the women of Afghanistan?? My replies do not contend that womens rights are not being abused but your piece does contend that keeping troops there will somehow help[ them. How will that happen, Claude, eh? When the troops arent there to help the people of Afghanistan how is that going to happen? By accident?? You know, everyday I see fresh reports of Afghan and Pakistani civilians slaughtered by drone attacks, I wonder how many women have died at the hands of 'our' troops. Do you know?

Selma said...

A piece dealing with comparitive numbers killed by US and Taliban:

claude said...

Again, Selma.
Not a SINGLE word condemning what the Taliban are doing and did.

Yes, the US courted them. Very bad. You're knocking on an open door with me.

But it's interesting (and depressing at the same time) how you put so much emphasis on those courting the criminals and none on the criminals themselves, let alone the crimes.

Today's news from the Independent. Course you're gonna say that it's a pro-Imperialist mouthpiece and that it's all Yank propaganda.

But take a look at this link.

90 Afghan school girls rushed to hospital yesterday unconscious and vomiting, victims of a gas poisoning attack on their school in Mahmud Raqi village- courtesy of the Taliban.

Now, if I say I find that repulsive, are you gonna accuse me of siding with the Imperialists?

Why is the anti-war movement so deafeningly silent as their the Taliban pour acid into the eyes of young girls? Where's the outcry from the Muslim comunity?

Had a bomb from an US airplane inflicted similar injuries on a similarly helpless victim then doubtless they'd be demonstrating against such evil.

Levels of hypocrisy that defy sense.

Stan Moss said...

the Kite Runner wasn't on TV. Not yet anyway. It was on at the cinema.

Selma said...

Stan, I would have thought the words 'perhaps you could summarise' might have given the game away i.e I havent seen this kite runner.
Claude I'm beginning to wonder about your motivation here.
The link ' some people' in this piece links to a very good article by John Pilger In which he actually talks about the treatment of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban and what they were doing about it both pre and post invasion and how they felt the invasion had affected their work adversely! Nowhere does he say or even suggest that the treatment of women by the Taliban is not our problem either. But in your piece you use the link as 'evidence' that some people think this isnt our problem. I think you'll find the arguement put forward by Pilger is that the Imperialists dont think that its their problem and cosequently no amount of their troops in the country is going to solve the problem as they arent there to help the women or the children or, in fact, any of the people of Afghanistan.

claude said...

But Selma,
debating becomes futile when you don't even believe that the Taliban gassed those 90 girls.

Yours is blind faith. The enemies of the US, simply because they're the enemies of the US, cannot do no wrong.

May I say you're behaving exactly like those pro-American pro-Iraq war warmongers. Two or three months ago I wrote an article condemining the rhetoric of "Our Boys" and attacking their behaviour in Basra.

I got a series of replies of people saying "prove it!" "They were isolated cases", "they didn;t torture", "yeah but".

No matter how many pictures of torture at the hands of Western troops these people are shown, they would still deny that any significant wrongdoing actually took place!

And you are like them, I'm afraid.You seem fairly happy to accept at face value what the "holy warriors" say- poor little angels, they "reject harming children...". What piece of tripe.

Enjoy your ideological (or religious, perhaps, I'm not to know) blinkers, Selma. But spare us the lectures in anti-Imperialism, please.

Tom said...

Why are you so sure the Iraq war was wrong but equally certain the Afghan one is right? Were they not both repressive regimes which were bad enough without Western "help"?

And why do you prefer to think it was invaded to impose some sort of feminist ideal on the country, when the excuse given was about not extraditing Bin Laden when he hadn't been charged with anything?

Tom said...

We must never forget those months-old posts horror.