[Marxism] A call for clarity on Afghanistan,

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Nov 3 06:07:26 MST 2009

Louis Proyect submitted from Foreign Policy in Focus:
How do we undo the damage we have subjected innocent Afghans to? Afghans
themselves have the answers to that. Surveys have shown that a majority of
Afghans want a complete disarmament of our warlord allies - essentially that
the U.S. needs to take back the guns we put into the hands of the Northern
Alliance and their private militias. Surveys have also shown that Afghans
want war crimes tribunals to hold all the corrupt and criminal
fundamentalists accountable in some sort of court, perhaps even the
International Criminal Court (U.S. government officials shouldn't be exempt
from this type of accountability either). With weapons, warlords, and U.S.
troops gone, real democracy could potentially take root and pro-democracy
forces could someday operate freely.

The call for clarity is not quite met by this article, as this passage
clearly demonstrates, although it makes many good points.

How is the United States to "take back the guns we put into the hands of the
Northern Alliance and their private militias." How is this to be done
without a US occupation and war not against the Pashto Taliban but against
the Tajik-led Northern Alliance?  And why just the Northern Alliance and its
allies? Disarming them won't disarm the Taliban. Or the Karzai army. Or
warlords not associated with the Northern Alliance. And almost all the arms
in the hands of Afghan groups come directly or indirectly from the United

Then the United States, presumably while carrying out "immediate" withdrawal
must capture all the "corrupt and criminal fundamentalists" and carry them
off to the Hague, where they can join all the other bad people in the world
who are supposed to be held and tried there. Almost all those  imprisoned
there are products of foreign occupation and war, particularly in the former
Yugoslavia. Perhaps instead the US should carry out airstrikes or targeted
killings against the all the "corrupt and criminal fundamentalists."

Anyway this sounds like a formula not for the US ending the war, but for
waging a different and even broader one to disarm some or all of the armed
groups in the country and capture or kill their leaders.

I think this is a product of the confused though brave and sincere politics
of RAWA (Revolutionary Alliance of the Women of Afghanistan), which became
known as a political force by its work in the refugee camps along the
Pakistani border at the time of the US invasion.  My impression is that this
is a predominantly Pashto women's liberation organization. They may now have
a stronger presence in Afghanistan as well.

RAWA has always denounced US imperialism's crimes in Afghanistan including
the 1981 invasion. But they have always presented US imperialism and
"Islamic fundamentalism" as equal enemies. Hence the slogan, "No
negotiations with fundamentalists."

In my opinion, their denunciations of imperialist invasion and occupation
have always tended to slide over into suggestions that imperialism should be
fighting a war for RAWA's purposes rather than its own. This is, of course,
not a realistic perspective.

Malalai Joya, whom I heard at the opening session of the overall excellent
ISO Northeast Conference, is much more firmly rooted in the experiences that
have turned millions of Afghan women and men against the US occupation and
war. Her stance for immediate withdrawal was truly unconditional. She
avoided attacks on Afghan Muslims for being deeply religious
("fundamentalists") while dealing frankly with the crimes that the US, the
Talibank, the government, and other warlord militias carry out against
women. I hope her speech is reprinted soon in Socialist Worker, and issued
as a pamphlet as well. Particularly because parts of her talk were unclear
to me because of the unfamiliar accent and my hearing loss.
Fred Feldman

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