[Marxism] Afghanistan

Jscotlive at aol.com Jscotlive at aol.com
Tue Mar 3 08:02:14 MST 2009

Paul F:
My late friend Al Richardson once said to me that he supported the  Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan on the grounds that Moscow was trying to  drag
Afghanistan into the feudal period.

Moscow wasn't trying to drag Afghanistan anywhere. It was an attempt to aid  
the existing Afghan govt fight off a US-backed insurgency in the countryside, 
an  insurgency made up of religious obscurantists intent on taking Afghan  
society back to the 7th century.
The record shows that the Afghan govt had to request the help of the  Soviets 
11 times before they finally intervened.
The record also shows the tragic consequences of the failure of  this 
invervention and the success of the insurgency.
As I wrote in my original article:
Upon taking power, the new government introduced a program of reforms  
designed to abolish feudal power in the countryside, guarantee freedom of  
along with equal rights for women and ethnic minorities. Thousands  of 
prisoners under the old regime were set free and police files burned in a  gesture 
designed to emphasise an end to repression. In the poorest parts  of  
Afghanistan, where life expectancy was 35 years, where infant mortality  was one in 
three, free medical care was provided. In addition, a mass literacy  campaign was 
undertaken, desperately needed in a society in which ninety percent  of the 
population could neither read nor write. 

The resulting rate of progress was staggering. By the late 1980s half of  all 
university students in Afghanistan were women, and women made up 40  percent 
of the country's doctors, 70 percent of its teachers, and 30 percent  of its 
civil servants. In John Pilger's 'New Rulers Of The World' (Verso,  2002), he 
relates the memory of the period through the eyes of an Afghan  woman, Saira 
Noorani, a female surgeon who escaped the Taliban in 2001. She  said: "Every 
girl could go to high school and university. We could go where  we wanted and 
wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to  see the latest 
Indian movies. I tall started to go wrong when the mujaheddin  started 
They used to kill teachers and burn schools. It was sad to  think that these 
were the people the West had supported."  

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