Jacob Levich jlevich at
Mon Feb 17 20:35:27 MST 2003

At 10:04 PM 2/17/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>has anyone come across a good article that discusses what the conditions in
>Afghanistan are today? what is life really like now that the Taliban are
>gone? is the country being run by Warlords again? how can we evaluate the
>"improvement" in the lives of women under the new pro-American government?
>the mass media conveniently no longer covers Afghanistan.

This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it's a good summary  as of 
Dec. 2002:

Here the present regime was installed after a US-led invasion. The interim 
head of state was hand-picked by the US (having proved his credentials 
earlier as an employee of an American multinational and later an asset of 
the Central Intelligence Agency). The budget of the government consists of 
foreign aid. On January 29, the IMF’s assistant director for monetary and 
exchange affairs suggested that the country should abandon its currency and 
adopt the dollar instead as a “temporary” measure. The country’s central 
bank is run by the IMF and World Bank. Textbooks for the country’s schools 
are being prepared in an American university. The BBC is helping to set up 
media operations in the country.

An international force under American direction polices the capital. The 
Times of India (21/12/01) reported that the US and its tail the UK demanded 
the force “have an open-ended mandate under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, 
allowing them to undertake coercive operations, make arrests and use force 
in situations other than just self-defence. Washington also wants the 
UN-mandated force to function under the overall control of the US army’s 
Central Command (Centcom). This would allow the force to dovetail its 
activities to the wider US military campaign in Afghanistan, which 
Washington says will continue even though Al Qaeda and the Taliban no 
longer control territory. As for duration, the US and Britain want an 
open-ended tenure rather than the early sunset clause favoured by Russia 
and France.... Mr Abdullah [foreign minister-designate], in fact, had told 
the UN Security Council the international force should have a Chapter VI 
mandate allowing it to use force only in self-defence. Under US pressure, 
however, Mr Karzai overruled Mr Abdullah and assented to the tougher 
Chapter VI mandate giving the force—which Britain declared unilaterally 
that it would lead — a freer hand.”

In March 2002 it was announced that the US was to help fund and train the 
new Afghan army. The assessment of the requirements of this force was 
carried out by the chief of staff of US Central Command.

Meanwhile the US continues war operations in various parts of the country 
without reference to the supposed government of the country. On December 4, 
2001, Richard Haass, the director of the US state department’s policy 
planning staff, said he saw “no problem in us continuing the war even as 
the new interim authority goes about its business.”

On December 20, acting on information from a warlord, the US bombed a 
convoy of pro-Karzai village elders travelling to Kabul to attend Karzai’s 
inauguration. As the survivors scrambled up a hill towards two villages, 
the planes circled back and bombed the two villages, exacting a death toll 
of 42.

On December 29 the US planes bombed Qala Niazi village, slaughtering, 
according to a UN spokeswoman, 52 villagers. At this point defence minister 
Mohammed Fahim called for a halt to the US bombing. Village elders in 
eastern Afghanistan complained that hundreds of villagers were being 
killed. However, the following day the chairman of the interim government, 
Hamid Karzai, voiced his support for the bombing campaign. The US special 
envoy to Afghanistan said that while he regretted the civilian casualties 
(“War is a very imperfect business”), bombing would go on till the goals 
were met.

On January 30 US Special Forces killed 16 officials of the regime in a 
district and took 27 prisoner. The Afghan ‘government’, such as it is, 
protested that the victims were their own officials, including the district 
police chief, but the Pentagon merely reasserted that they were a 
legitimate target.

On July 1, 2002, apparently on the suspicion that Taliban leaders were 
attending a wedding at Kakarak in Uruzgan province, US planes bombed four 
villages, slaughtering over 60 innocent villagers, wiping out whole 
families in a night. In the morning, American forces entered the village, 
stormed the houses, tied the hands of men and women and did not allow 
people to help the victims or take them away for treatment or even cover 
the dead bodies, from which the clothes had been burnt off. Apparently for 
US military records, the soldiers filmed and photographed the dead bodies, 
including of the women. (See Marc W. Herold, “The massacre at Kakarak”, 
Frontline, 16/8/02)

The Kakarak episode put the Karzai regime under pressure. Hundreds of 
Afghans (half of them women) marched in Kabul to protest
the killing—an unprecedented development. Karzai huddled with the commander 
of the allied forces in Afghanistan, Lt Gen Dan K. McNeill. The Afghan 
foreign minister called for a role for the Afghan ‘government’ in deciding 
about the air strikes”.
These pleas were ignored, the Pentagon defended its action, and the US 
continued its strikes. As one of the Kakarak survivors said to a 
correspondent, “Karzai is just a traffic cop working for the Americans.”

There could hardly be a more striking expression of the isolation and 
dependence of the present regime than ‘President’ Karzai’s decision in July 
to remove his earlier bodyguards and replace them with American troops. “We 
know there could be a great political cost from doing this”, said a western 
diplomat, “but that price, no matter how much, will be less than losing the 
president” (not attempting to hide that Karzai was his country’s property 
to “lose”). Karzai is not alone: a core of senior ministers has also 
adopted US bodyguards. In August the US announced that responsibility for 
Karzai’s security would now be taken over by the US state department 
diplomatic security service for at least a year.

An attempt was made to confer some sort of legitimacy on Karzai by 
arranging a loya jirga, a traditional assembly or parliament of delegates 
of the various tribes and communities in Afghanistan, to pick a new 
government. The delegates were carefully screened to exclude all 
troublesome elements. Nevertheless, at the affair itself, some 60-70 
delegates walked out in protest at the proceedings.

  Some delegates pointed out that the number of participants was 1700, 
instead of 1550 ‘elected’ delegates as announced, and that among the extra, 
unelected participants were many warlords and their henchmen. “Many tribal 
delegates... expressed concern at the‘outside influence’ overshadowing the 
event. All were aware the American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, had been the 
first to announce the former king would stay out of government, after 
intense backroom politicking delayed the assembly opening by 24 hours. The 
king’s decision means Mr Karzai has no serious challenger as president. 
‘This is not a democracy’, Sima Samar, the women’s affairs minister, said 
yesterday. ‘This is a rubber stamp. Everything has already been decided by 
the powerful ones.’” (Independent, 12/6/02; emphasis added)3

Aspects of India's Economy Nos. 33 & 34,

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