Hitchens and the Left

jenyan1 jenyan1 at uic.edu
Sat Sep 29 23:13:34 MDT 2001

John [Gluick],

I fear that you give the Mujahedeen much more credit than they deserve. None
other than the chief of Pakistani ISI (CIA-Langley`s Karachi  franchise)
Afghan operations is on record as saying that:

"... without full U.S. support, the jehad did not, and still cannot, succeed".
 - Brigadier Mohammad Yousaf, commander of Inter-Services Intelligence
operations in Afghanistan, 1983-1987.

In short, Mr Reagan`s `freedom fighters` were common, garden variety, hired
bandits, who, but for the billions in US\Saudi\British aid, would have posed
little military or political threat to the PDPA (even without the subsequent
Soviet attempt to prop up the PDPA regime).

Similar barbaric counterevolutionary organisations existed in many parts of
the Third World. Renamo (who were commonly refered to in Mozambique as `armed
bandits`), UNITA, and the Contras, were outfits which, like their Afghan
counterparts, would not have succeeded without the support of the western
capitalist powers.

The `shortcomings` of the leftist and populist post-independence regimes in
the third world have been noted elsewhere, so you are not really telling us
anything new here.[1]

As for Andrew Austin`s post, I can see no merit in his comments whatsoever.
One can only assume they were an attempt to start a culturalist `analysis` of
the recent events -- probably consistent with, if not a direct outcome of,
reading too much of that fraud Goldhagen.


[1] See for example Samir Amin `Eurocentrism` [MR Press, 1988] for a critique
of the fundamentalist and other provincialist evasions. In this work, he also
discusses the failings\defeag of Nasserism in Egypt, and the subsequent rise
of a religious right. Extract:
    Numerous Arab intellectuals have brought merciless charges against this
fundamentalism. They have uncovered its hidden motivations - neurotic
attitudes systematically produced by peripheral capitalism, particularly among
the popular strata of the petty bourgeoisie -- and have unveiled its political
ambiguities and ties with Saudi-American `petro-Islam`. In this way, they have
explained the success of Wahabism, which in other circumstances would not have
passed beyond the horizon of the Central Arabian Oasis. In the same way it has
been possible to account for the support that the West has contributed to a
movement that suits its purpose (support that has been hypocritically denied),
owing to the incredible weakening of the Arab world it has produced through an
explosion of internal conflicts, mainly sectarian quarrels, and disputes over
organisational allegiences.

John Gluick wrote:

>I ask:
>What about the errors and incompetencies of various "revolutionary
>regimes, errors and incompetencies which cannot be ascribed to
>neo-colonialism, imperialism, etc. alone ? My knowledge of the world of
>Islam is pretty slim, so I could be wrong about this, but I think there are
>numerous examples of post-colonial regimes (travelling under the banner of
>"Arab socialism" and so on) where elites raised popular hopes for secular
>modernization and then, partially through their own venality, dashed these
>popular hopes. So-called "Muslim fundamentalism" came swooping in to fill
>the ideological vacuum. I'm thinking particularly of Algeria here. But
>you're right,
>the failure of left and progressive ideologies in the region certainly had
>a lot to do with U.S. (and less so European) security state subversion in
>places like Iran
>Iraq, and Afghanistan (as well as the backing of reactionary client states
>as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and so on). Although at the same time, in the case
>of Afghanistan, it appears reasonable to claim that the ruthless and
>top-down way in which the post-1978 government imposed land reform,
>secularization of education, etc. helped rally the population against the
>(eventual) Red Army invaders and behind the muhajidin. I think what Andy
>says has some merit insofar as a discussion of the prevalence of so-called
>"clerical fascism" in Northern Africa, the Middle East, and Central and
>South Asia cannot begin and end solely by looking at imperialist
>maneuvering, although obviously that is a central part of the narrative.
>Adopting a more nuanced analysis which refuses to pin outcomes in the
>periphery on the foreign policy of the hegemon does not in any way warrant
>the conclusion that "humanitarian imperialism" (i.e. sacking the Taliban,
>thus inducing more civil war and more misery for the Afghani popular
>masses, not to mention paving the way for more geopolitical intrigue in
>Asia) is in any way desirable.
>Just musing ...
>John Gulick

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