Afghanistan caught in friendly fire

Asia Times January 21, 2009  By M K Bhadrakumar

The Barack Obama era is commencing on a combative note in Afghanistan. The Afghan bazaar is buzzing with rumors that the equations between Washington and Kabul have become uncertain. Senior Afghan figures have been quoted as concluding that “the new US administration and the current Afghan administration will not be speaking the same language”.

This followed a controversial visit to the Afghan capital Kabul last week by United States vice president-elect Joseph Biden. As the chairman of the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is not a novice to foreign affairs and diplomacy, or to Afghanistan. Yet, during his visit, Biden apparently pulled up Afghan President Hamid Karzai for not giving a good account of himself as a ruler.

Again, Afghan Foreign Minister Dadfar Spanta has objected to US secretary of state-designate Hillary’s Clinton’s use of the term “narco state” to describe Afghanistan in her Senate testimony last Tuesday on her nomination. He called in the Associated Press specifically to rebut that Clinton’s characterization was “absolutely wrong”. Nerves are getting frayed at the edges.

NATO chief chips in
Alas, the Obama presidency is starting on a false note when close coordination between Washington and Kabul ought to be the hallmark of relations. As if taking a cue from the irate Americans, the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, tore into the Karzai government in an unprecedented opinion piece in The Washington Post on Sunday, alleging among other things that “the basic problem in Afghanistan is not too much Taliban; it’s too little good governance”.

 For full article

The Afghan Scam


The Untold Story of Why the U.S. Is Bound to Fail in Afghanistan
By Ann Jones

The first of 20,000 to 30,000 additional U.S. troops are scheduled to arrive in Afghanistan next month to re-win the war George W. Bush neglected to finish in his eagerness to start another one. However, “winning” the military campaign against the Taliban is the lesser half of the story.

Going into Afghanistan, the Bush administration called for a political campaign to reconstruct the country and thereby establish the authority of a stable, democratic Afghan central government. It was understood that the two campaigns — military and political/economic — had to go forward together; the success of each depended on the other. But the vision of a reconstructed, peaceful, stable, democratically governed Afghanistan faded fast. Most Afghans now believe that it was nothing but a cover story for the Bush administration’s real goal — to set up permanent bases in Afghanistan and occupy the country forever.

For the fill article

Institutional Memory Stinks

 We recently came upon this quote from Defense secretary Robert Gates in a  New York Times article:

“…I think that we’re not likely to see significant cuts,” he said, adding to applause that “the defense budget at the end of the day is a pretty impressive stimulus for the economy.” 

It brought us back to an interview we had done with Economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1979. We began production of a documentary called Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. During interviews, we learned from experts that the arms race wasn’t just about defending the United States. The arms race was about power and politics spawned from a union of business, science, and academia and ruled by a self-anointed “priesthood.” By 1979 the Cold War mentality was rationalizing an endless military expansion that one insider described as “a self-licking ice cream cone.”  Economist John Kenneth Galbraith further explained how renewing the Cold War would destroy the civilian economy. He claimed it had already rigidified the capitalist system by bureaucratizing too much production for non-productive uses. He saw American industry becoming more like the Soviet Union, a planned economy designed to suit its own needs at the expense of the whole society.

Where the Taliban and Hamas intersect

 A friend asked us this question: What do you feel the real objectives are of the Taliban?  

Here is our answer:  Pakistani/CIA trained drug trafficker and war criminal Gulbuddin Hekmatyar became the CIA’s favorite in America’s secret war against Moscow in the 1980’s thanks to Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson. Hekmatyar received the bulk of U.S. and Saudi money, despite outraged pleas from representatives of some of Afghanistan’s most revered religious families who denounced Gulbuddin “as a true monster and an enemy of Afghanistan… a dangerous fundamentalist, busy assassinating moderate Afghans, a man no self-respecting nation should support.” As a student at Kabul University in the late sixties, Hekmatyar earned an ugly reputation as a dangerous fanatic. Hekmatyar’s followers were known to be violently misogynist-throwing acid in the faces of women who did not wear the veil. Hekmatyar inaugurated the jihadist war against Afghanistan in 1973 with the covert assistance of Pakistani president Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s intelligence chief, Naseerullah Babar. The Taliban’s was a creation of Babar’s ISI during the Benazir Bhutto administration with the tacit blessing of the US. When Hekmatyar’s  takeover  of Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal failed, the Taliban took over.  The post-9/11 war against the Taliban was widely viewed at the time as a long overdue opportunity to correct the policy mistakes in Afghanistan embodied by the Taliban  but beginning with Hekmatyar. But instead of helping Afghans rebuild their nation by providing the necessary security, the war has turned once again against the Afghan people. Today, as Pakistani Taliban, and Hekmatyar’s fighters once again swarm over the countryside, due mainly to the failure of America’s policy makers,  the western alliance that pledged itself to establishing an Afghan democracy scrambles to negotiate its way out of its commitment by offering to share political power with Hekmatyar and the Taliban. Pakistan’s ISI would benefit from sharing power with Hekmatyar and the Taliban by adding strategic depth for their eventual war with India. But it would be a catastrophe for the Afghan people, once again.  

In an interview with Amy Goodman, Robert Dreyfuss, author of  Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam,  details a similar pattern of short-sighted decision making followed by a complete disassociation from the responsibility to the civilian populations when it came to the creation of Hamas.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. How was Hamas established?  

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, gosh, you know, you can go back, really 60 or 70 years. The Hamas organization is an outgrowth, really a formal outgrowth, of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was a transnational organization founded in Egypt, which established branches in the ’30s and ’40s in Jordan and Palestine and Syria and elsewhere. And the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was founded by a man named Said Ramadan, actually the father of Tariq Ramadan, who you mentioned earlier. Said Ramadan was one of the founders of the Brotherhood, who was the son-in-law of its originator, Hassan al-Banna, and he established the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and in Jerusalem in 1945. And it grew rapidly during the ’40s and was, not surprisingly, a very conservative political Islamic Movement that had a lot of support from the Hashemite royal family of Jordan and from the king of Egypt.  For the full interview

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