Archive for the 'propaganda' Category

Rehash on ‘Patriotism’

Gotta repost this one I did first 2 years ago:

In commemoration of this Independance Day weekend (for which I am a little late in writing about) I would like to bring to the reader’s mind the principle of Patriotism.  I am bothered by the display of patriotism I see in my church so often.  I am really bothered by the huge gobs of patriotism taught to my kids in elementary school so often.  They can sing the theme songs of each of the 4 branches of the military from memory.  So many of the assemblies parents are invited to make lengthly mention of military in conjunction with the “virtue” of patriotism.

Therefore, I bring you my very favorite words on the subject from President Spencer W. Kimball of the Church I belong to, who died back in 1985 I believe.

We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45).

Also, I would like to point out one of my favorite parts of the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Have we arrived at this point yet?  Thomas Jefferson thought we arrive at this point at least every twenty years as is evidenced in his letter to William Smith in 1787:  http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl64.htm

And now, for a collection of some of my favorite quotes on the topic of patriotism:

I would like to be remembered as a man who served his country.-General Augusto PinochetI am not going to repent. I am not going to ask for favours. What I did, I did for my country.

-P. W. Botha, former President of Apartheid South Africa

I want you to know that everything I did, I did for my country.

-Pol Pot, mass murderer of Cambodia

It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism (speaking of the patriotism of the USA); it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.

-Alexis de Tocqueville

Pledges of allegiance are marks of totalitarian states, not democracies. I can’t think of a single democracy except the United States that has a pledge of allegiance.

-David Kertzer

The very existence of the state demands that there be some privileged class vitally interested in maintaining that existence. And it is precisely the group interests of that class that are called patriotism.

-Mikhail Bakunin

A problem with treating patriotism as an objective virtue is that patriotisms often conflict. Soldiers of both sides in a war may feel equally patriotic, creating an ethical paradox. (If patriotism is a virtue, then the enemy is virtuous, so why try to kill them?)

-Wikipedia

The heights of popularity and patriotism are still the beaten road to power and tyranny; flattery to treachery; standing armies to arbitrary government; and the glory of God to the temporal interest of the clergy.

-David Hume

Patriotism … is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity, and increases his arrogance and conceit.

-Emma Goldman

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.

-George Bernard Shaw

Patriotism is a arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.

-George Jean Nathan

Patriotism ruins history.

-Goethe

In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell.

-H. L. Mencken

Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.

-Henry Steele Commager

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

-Howard Thurman

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

-Samuel Johnson

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.

-Sinclair Lewis

Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them!

-Albert Einstein

I have no sense of nationalism, only a cosmic consciousness of belonging to the human family.

-Rosika Schwimmer

I am not an Athenian or a Greek, I am a citizen of the world.

-Socrates

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.

-Eugene V. Debbs

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind.  We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands.  The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race.  Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.

-William Lloyd Garrison, Declaration of Sentiments, Boston Peace Conference 1838

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?

-Blaise Pascal

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.

-Voltaire

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Derschowitz spouts propaganda in the WSJ and even I can refute him.

Wow. Alan Derschowitz is so far out in lala land that even an amateur blogger like me can refute him.  Take his most recent article which was surprisingly published in the Wall Street Journal, a paper that should have a more rigorous system for letting article show up on its pages, though of course now it is owned by Rupert Murdoch so….

Dershowitz starts off with this:

There are several ways in which Iran could use nuclear weapons. The first is by dropping an atomic bomb on Israel, as its leaders have repeatedly threatened to do. Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president of Iran, boasted in 2004 that an Iranian attack would kill as many as five million Jews. Mr. Rafsanjani estimated that even if Israel retaliated with its own nuclear bombs, Iran would probably lose about 15 million people, which he said would be a small “sacrifice” of the billion Muslims in the world.

I can find no reference to this alleged 2004 statement.  The statement everyone applies to Rafsanjani to scare people with is from his speech in 2001 where he said:

The colonialists will keep this base as long as they need it. Now, whether they can do so or not is a separate issue and this is my next point. Any time they find a replacement for that particular instrument, they will take it up and this will come to an end. This will open a new chapter. Because colonialism and imperialism will not easily leave the people of the world alone. Therefore, you can see that they have arranged it in a way that the balance of power favours Israel. Well, from a numerical point of view, it cannot have as many troops as Muslims and Arabs do. So they have improved the quality of what they have. Classical weaponry has its own limitations. They have limited use. They have a limited range as well. They have supplied vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional weapons to Israel. They have permitted it to have them and they have shut their eyes to what is going on. They have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles and suchlike.

If one day … Of course, that is very important. If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iran/2001/011214-text.html

It’s important to take these quotes in context.  Here, Rafsanjani is pointing out how the US is arming Israel with all sort of unconventional weapons and turning a blind eye to the possession of nuclear weapons in Israel.  He then says that IF the islamic world someday had nuclear weapons too, the US colonialist policy would come to a stand still because of what a nuclear weapons could possibly do to Israel.  He is not threatening Israel.  He is not saying we are trying to develope nuclear weapons so we can drop it on Israel.  He is trying to show how things would be if the other side developed nuclear weapons as well.  If you can find any other Rafsanjani alleged threats against Israel let me know please.

He goes on:

The second way in which Iran could use nuclear weapons would be to hand them off to its surrogates, Hezbollah or Hamas.

Do you really think that Hamas or Hezbollah would commit national suicide to drop a nuclear weapon on their neighbor?  Would Israel drop a nuclear weapon on Gaza? All moral consideration aside, it would be completely irrational as you would kill yourself too. Just not going to happen.

Next Derschowitz says:

The second way in which Iran could use nuclear weapons would be to hand them off to its surrogates, Hezbollah or Hamas. A third way would be for a terrorist group, such as al Qaeda, to get its hands on Iranian nuclear material. It could do so with the consent of Iran or by working with rogue elements within the Iranian regime.

This is his way of scaring people since so far, there has been no conclusive evidence that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program.  Iran is no friend with Al Queda. Many believe that the enemy of the Iranian state, Jundullah, is in cahoots with Al Queda.  Al Zawahiri has denounced Iran numerous times.  See here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayman_al-Zawahiri#Relation_with_Islamic_Republic_of_Iran

Der then says:

But there are other ways in which a nuclear-armed Iran would endanger the world. First, it would cause an arms race in which every nation in the Middle East would seek to obtain nuclear weapons.

I think that middle-eastern nations threatened by Israel already have a good reason to get into a nuclear arms race don’t you?  Make the middle east a nuclear weapons-free zone and see then if you have nuclear weapons on anyone’s agenda over there.  Incidentally, Iran has supported the concept of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the middle east but has been opposed by Israel and the US.

He then goes on with his scare-mongering which needs no specific rebuttal here as it is based on the idea that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons full speed ahead.  He goes on to say that Obama would be remembered like Neville Chambelain for letting Hitler get out of control.  He says:

History will not treat kindly any leader who allows so much power to be accumulated by the world’s first suicide nation—a nation whose leaders have not only expressed but, during the Iran-Iraq war, demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice millions of their own people to an apocalyptic mission of destruction.

Again, Der is twisting history to an unrecognizable pulp here.  Iran has never attacked anyone in it’s entire existence.  Iran was attacked by Iraq in the above-mentioned war and the US supplied Iraq with weapons and technology to massacre Iranians.  If anyone in the region can be thought of as a loose cannon, likely to attack another nation based on past behavioral patterns, it is the US and Israel! 

Der is easy to rebutt, but he gets to splash his trash on the pages of the Wall Street Journal and I get a few hits here on the radical mormon. Oh well, at least I do my part to bring works of darkness to light and renounce war and proclaim peace.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704869304575110042827617582.html?mod=rss_Today%27s_Most_Popular

Murder and torture and not done by the US! Stop the presses… oh forget it, it’s just Israel.

All people of conscience abhor the violence we see coming out of Iran, regardless of the electoral fraud issue.  It is easy to abhor it when it is splashed all over our newspaper front pages and making the headlines of the nightly news.  Iran is our enemy, part of the axis of evil, and thus it is easy for us to dig up their dirt and point our fingers.

However, there is a similar situation which has been occurring in the middle east for years and years (only it is much more brutal and damaging) and we are able to ignore it with great discipline.  Israel recently massacred 1400 people in Gaza and our nation, including our brave President Obama, was able to hold it’s tongue and keep the carnage off of the front pages.  The videos were not as visible.  There were exceptions, but in general, for all intents and purposes, the dead children were not seen except for in the alternative media. 

Israel has set up a regime of terror and torture and is so practiced at it that it occurs everyday.  One of the recent egregious incidents is the account of the Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer.  It has been over a year now that he returned from receiving the prestigious Martha Gelhorn award for journalism in England… only to be tortured by the Shin Bet at the border, and put into the hospital.  His ill-treatment was vehemently denied and lied about by the official Israeli lying apparatus.  However, his story continues to be told along with witness testimonies and medical records to back him up.  One year after the incident of his torture, he writes:

Since 2003, I’ve been the voice to the voiceless in the besieged Gaza Strip for a number of publications and news programs ranging from The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs to the BBC and, Morgenbladet in Norway as well as Democracy Now! These stories exposed a carefully-crafted fiction continuing control and exploitation of five-million people. Their impact, coupled with the reporting of others served to change public opinion in the United States and Europe concerning the dynamics of Israel and its occupation of Palestine .

After receiving the Martha Gellhorn prize I returned home through the Allenby Bridge Crossing in the Occupied West Bank between Jordan and Israel. It was here I was detained, interrogated, and tortured for several hours by Shin Bet and border officers. When it appeared I may be close to death an ambulance was called to transport me to a hospital. From that day my life has been a year of continued medical treatments, pain — and a search for justice.

One of the amazing recollections of his ordeal is this:

When Associated Press reporter Karin Laub called me on my cell phone for an interview after my ordeal, I detailed how I was stripped and held at gunpoint. Her reply? “Go on,” she stated. “This is normal about what we hear happening at Ben Gurion Airport . It’s nothing new.”

Nothing new.  Normal.  This is what happens all the time in the middle east and it doesn’t appear on the front pages or make the nightly news.  It doesn’t cause protest around the world.  It doesn’t get Obama up on his soap box, pontificating about human rights abuses and freedom.  (Of course, he’s too busy killing kids and the elderly at Pakistani funerals to be worrying about this sort of thing.)

Read the rest of Omer’s recollections here:

http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=2042

David Albright, the expert that never was… expounds his propaganda in the newspaper of record.

It is rather maddenning to see this man pop up as an expert in the area of nuclear weapons non-proliferation again after the revealing opinion article written on him by Scott Ritter a while back.  I noted this information in a post on David Albright last July:

https://theradicalmormon.wordpress.com/2008/07/02/david-albright-expert-that-never-was-is-the-expert-again/

In his most recent interview which appears in the New York Times, Albright is scaremongering the world about the nuclear weapons capability potential of Iran.  He was interviewed by a consulting editor for the Council on Foreign Relations (a group that Dick Cheney belongs to… need I say more?), and the entire interview can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/cfr/world/slot3_20090220.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

Again, he is introduced as a “long time expert on Iran’s nuclear program” and right away he starts offerring advice on how to negotiate with Iran:

Don’t accommodate Iran with short-term solutions. Iran is determined to move forward right now. Compromises that the United States may offer, such as settling for merely slowing down the enrichment program, are guaranteed not to work. The important thing is to maintain the U.S. goal of an Iranian suspension of uranium enrichment.

I don’t think that Albright and people like him have the foggiest concept of the inherent right that Iran has as a member of the NPT to enrich uranium.  Remember that Iran stopped enriching uranium back in 2004 in a good faith gesture during negotiations with the European Union.  The EU broke its part of the bargain and then tried to get Iran back into enrichment cessation with another offer of empty gestures which Iran dismissed as an insult. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_program_of_Iran#2002_-_2006

Stopping enrichment has gotten Iran nowhere fast in the past and Iran has no legal obligations to stop enrichment now either.  The IAEA has been unable to discover the diversion to a weapons program of uranium enrichment and Iran is in full compliance with the NPT. 

Albright then goes on to advocate a nuclear weapons-free zone in the middle east and explains how that wouldn’t affect Israel’s current stockpiles of nuclear weapons:

It’s very important right now to start talking about a Middle East free of enrichment plants and reprocessing plants [that can separate plutonium], which could be used in nuclear weapons. And so, you want to achieve a region that doesn’t have nuclear weapons capabilities. Then inevitably, bring in other players, some very much of concern to Iran. Israel would be number one…

It’s also not asking Israel to give up its nuclear weapons. It’s asking Israel to give up production of plutonium and any highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. They’ve already got plenty of nuclear explosive material.

Oh, I see.  You want a nuclear weapons-free middle east except for the nuclear weapons that Israel already has which is enough to blow up the entire rest of the Arab and Persian world?  And we seriously consider this guy to be a nuclear weapons non-proliferation expert?  That he is quoted as such in the New York Times means that we have a long way to go before we come to some serious consideration of true non-proliferation efforts such as FISSBAN etc.  Again, the New York Times proves that it prints all of the propaganda it can find.

Write your senator… see what good it did me?

I recently wrote my Senator regarding my distress at the Israeli massacre of Gazans and asked her to do something to get Israel to stop, wielding her power as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  She wrote me back today with this”

Dear Dr. Strong:

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding recent events in the Middle East.  I appreciate hearing from you.

As you may know, on December 27, 2008, Israel responded to ongoing rocket attacks against its citizens by launching an offensive in the Gaza Strip against Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls the Gaza government.  The death and destruction is tragic on all sides.

It is time for a real and sustainable cease-fire and a post-conflict diplomatic solution that will allow the promise of peace in the Middle East to be realized, not just for hours or days but permanently. 

I believe that it is important for the United States and the international community to be actively engaged in promoting a lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important issue.  Please be assured that as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to monitor this situation closely and work to encourage a peaceful solution to the crisis in the Middle East.

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

 

I don’t know why it is that the entire group of USA politicians have completely bought into this theory that Israel is responding to Hamas’s rockets and that it is Hamas’s rockets that are the entire problem here.  Nothing is said of the occupation, the cruel blockade, the frequent firing at defenseless Gazan fishermen, the Israeli theft of Palestinians water supplies, the kidnapped Palestinians who rot in Israel’s prisons as “administrative detainees” with no recourse by law etc. etc.  Surely all USA politicians who want to hang onto their jobs get their talking points from AIPAC.  It must be.  If not, why can’t Senator Boxer read the very same things I’m reading every day in plain sight?

Next, she says the death and destruction is tragic on all sides.  This really flabberghasts me.  She must here be taking cues from the New York Times which shows a lady cowering in her Sderot home while rocket alarms are going off, next to a picture of a frightened Gazan, framing the conflict as one where the sufferring is roughly equal on both sides.  The tragedy of Gaza infinitely larger than that of the Israeli people here.  There shouldn’t be much arguement among reasonable people right?

Also, Hamas is a militant islamist group that controls the Gazan government according to Boxer.  No mention here that they were elected to power in an election that would have put an Israeli election to shame.  No name calling on the other side, such as referring to Israel as “that militant terrorist Zionist group that controls Israel.”

The real and sustainable ceasefire that Boxer seeks will never come from this sort of murderous attack on Gaza.  The sustainable ceasefire will come when justice comes to the middle-east and no sooner.  Israel must give back the land it took in 1967 and cease it’s cruel oppression of the Palestinians and must give up its vision of eretz Israel and then we will see if tempers will cool.  Oh, and don’t forget the right of return for refugees as the UN decided was a necessary condition in allowing Israel to maintain its membership in the UN so many years ago.

I have no faith in my government in coming to any sort of helpful resolution of the middle-eastern conflict.  They are all AIPAC hacks and will never apply pressure to Israel to do what is right.   

Sorry I am so testy lately, but there is so much death and misery in one of the most miserable places on the earth right now and noone is able to stop it and the only power that can do something, the USA, is doing nothing.

 

Friedman writes lies fit for print.

Before I go on a tirade here, I’d like to point out that Benjamin Netanyaju today called for the complete eradication or removal of Hamas… an act that in order to acheive would result in 10 times the bloodshed we are seeing now.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/4230933/Benjamin-Netanyahu-says-Hamas-must-be-removed-from-Gaza.html

Now, the tirade has to do with Thomas Friedman’s most recent op-ed in the New York Times, which can be found here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/opinion/14friedman.html?pagewanted=print

There are just so many lies and misrepresentations in this article that I just had to point out at least a few of them.  It’s the perpetuation of falsehoods like these that support the continuing propaganda and then all we get in the news is “Palestinians bad, Israel good.”

Friedman starts out blabbing about how Israel actually won the war against Lebanon 2 years ago because Hezbollah received an “education.”  He says:

What Hezbollah did in 2006 — in launching an unprovoked war across the U.N.-recognized Israel-Lebanon border, after Israel had unilaterally withdrawn from Lebanon…

Hmmm… an unprovoked war?  This is an ongoing conflict with Israel always taking Lebanese prisoners and keeping some of them for years without charge in secret prisons in northern Israel, a place called “camp 1391.”  Don’t believe me?  Check out the wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_1391

Hundreds of Lebanese are kept there without charge and Hezbollah often engages in prisoner exchange as a part of the ongoing conflict.  Additionally, I recall that in February of 2006, the IDF had shot and killed a southern Lebanese shepherd that was unarmed and 15 years of age.  These sorts of provocations occurred here and there and it is well known that Israel had planned this war well in advance of any sort of “provocation,” as is seen here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6431637.stm

Friedman also said:

And this Hezbollah force, rather than confronting Israel’s Army head-on, focused on demoralizing Israeli civilians with rockets in their homes, challenging Israel to inflict massive civilian casualties in order to hit Hezbollah fighters and, when Israel did strike Hezbollah and also killed civilians…

B.S.  As is well known, the preponderance of casualties inflicted on Israel were soldiers (118 IDF soldiers to 43 Israeli civilians, about  a 3:1 ratio), in spite of the fact that IDF bases are inside of civilian populated towns in northern Israel.  The scales were tipped way the other way in Israeli inflicted casualties though with the vast majority being civilian (numbers ranging from 250 to 500 Hezbollah to 1100 civilians, a 1-2:4 ratio).  Israel target Beirut and targets way north in Lebanon, in Christian areas of Lebanon, clearly targeting way beyond anything remotely connected to Hezbollah.

That brings us back to Friedman’s original question.  Is Israel trying to eradicate or educate Hamas.  Again, in the comparison with the 2006 war, he is implying here that Hamas is attacking Israel unprovoked.  This needs to be addressed because as everyone should know, but most media outlets are ignoring, Israel broke the ceasefire first and killed 6 Hamas men on 11/5/08.  It was only after this huge provocation (among others such as firing at fishing boats and shooting at farmers near the fence) that Hamas broke down and started firing rockets again. 

In any case, I need to get to bed.  I’ve always been impressed with Friedman, ever since he had the courage to tell Iraqi citizens to “suck on this” as a way of the US defending itself against “terrorists.”  (see the following link for more info on that dashing statement):

https://theradicalmormon.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/friedman-suck-on-this-iraq/

Friedman held that the US needed to “educate” Islamic nations that their attacking us was not going to be stood for.  Thus the “suck on this Iraq” statement.  Here then he advocates for Palestinians to “suck on this” as well, as the Lebanese “sucked on this” back in 2006.  It pains me to see the trash passes for journalistic excellence, that my fellow Americans are educated upon in the greatest bastion of journalism in the world, the paper of record, the New York Times.  I wish that truly objective and factual writers would be hired instead of these apologists for Zionism.

Parenti on Afghanistan: A must-read.

Michael Parenti has written a marvelous succint summary of the last 30 or so years of Afghanistan’s history.  This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand exactly what has been going on there for the last 30 years and answers questions such as the reasons we were funding jihadists in Afghanistan in the 80s such as Osama bin Laden etc. to go in and fight against Russia in Afghanistan, and whether or not there was ever a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or were the Soviets invited by the Afghanistani government (if you guessed invited you are right, but you didn’t get it from a US government or media source).  You’ll see that the USA has been screwing up Afghanistan for much longer than the last 7 years. 

Parenti is one of the originals who woke me up from my long slumber regarding the secret combinations that rule our nation in the early 90s.  His work here is amazing.  This was posted over at informationclearinghouse.info, a great source of news and perspective.  Here is the story:

December 05, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse” — Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.

Some Real History

Since feudal times the landholding system in Afghanistan had remained unchanged, with more than 75 percent of the land owned by big landlords who comprised only 3 percent of the rural population. In the mid-1960s, democratic revolutionary elements coalesced to form the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). In 1973, the king was deposed, but the government that replaced him proved to be autocratic, corrupt, and unpopular. It in turn was forced out in 1978 after a massive demonstration in front of the presidential palace, and after the army intervened on the side of the demonstrators.

The military officers who took charge invited the PDP to form a new government under the leadership of Noor Mohammed Taraki, a poet and novelist. This is how a Marxist-led coalition of national democratic forces came into office. “It was a totally indigenous happening. Not even the CIA blamed the USSR for it,” writes John Ryan, a retired professor at the University of Winnipeg, who was conducting an agricultural research project in Afghanistan at about that time.
The Taraki government proceeded to legalize labor unions, and set up a minimum wage, a progressive income tax, a literacy campaign, and programs that gave ordinary people greater access to health care, housing, and public sanitation. Fledgling peasant cooperatives were started and price reductions on some key foods were imposed.

The government also continued a campaign begun by the king to emancipate women from their age-old tribal bondage. It provided public education for girls and for the children of various tribes.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle (17 November 2001) noted that under the Taraki regime Kabul had been “a cosmopolitan city. Artists and hippies flocked to the capital. Women studied agriculture, engineering and business at the city’s university. Afghan women held government jobs—-in the 1980s, there were seven female members of parliament. Women drove cars, traveled and went on dates. Fifty percent of university students were women.”

The Taraki government moved to eradicate the cultivation of opium poppy. Until then Afghanistan had been producing more than 70 percent of the opium needed for the world’s heroin supply. The government also abolished all debts owed by farmers, and began developing a major land reform program. Ryan believes that it was a “genuinely popular government and people looked forward to the future with great hope.”

But serious opposition arose from several quarters. The feudal landlords opposed the land reform program that infringed on their holdings. And tribesmen and fundamentalist mullahs vehemently opposed the government’s dedication to gender equality and the education of women and children.

Because of its egalitarian and collectivist economic policies the Taraki government also incurred the opposition of the US national security state. Almost immediately after the PDP coalition came to power, the CIA, assisted by Saudi and Pakistani military, launched a large scale intervention into Afghanistan on the side of the ousted feudal lords, reactionary tribal chieftains, mullahs, and opium traffickers.

A top official within the Taraki government was Hafizulla Amin, believed by many to have been recruited by the CIA during the several years he spent in the United States as a student. In September 1979, Amin seized state power in an armed coup. He executed Taraki, halted the reforms, and murdered, jailed, or exiled thousands of Taraki supporters as he moved toward establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state. But within two months, he was overthrown by PDP remnants including elements within the military.

It should be noted that all this happened before the Soviet military intervention. National security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly admitted–months before Soviet troops entered the country–that the Carter administration was providing huge sums to Muslim extremists to subvert the reformist government. Part of that effort involved brutal attacks by the CIA-backed mujahideen against schools and teachers in rural areas.

In late 1979, the seriously besieged PDP government asked Moscow to send a contingent of troops to help ward off the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) and foreign mercenaries, all recruited, financed, and well-armed by the CIA. The Soviets already had been sending aid for projects in mining, education, agriculture, and public health. Deploying troops represented a commitment of a more serious and politically dangerous sort. It took repeated requests from Kabul before Moscow agreed to intervene militarily.

Jihad and Taliban, CIA Style

The Soviet intervention was a golden opportunity for the CIA to transform the tribal resistance into a holy war, an Islamic jihad to expel the godless communists from Afghanistan. Over the years the United States and Saudi Arabia expended about $40 billion on the war in Afghanistan. The CIA and its allies recruited, supplied, and trained almost 100,000 radical mujahideen from forty Muslim countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Afghanistan itself. Among those who answered the call was Saudi-born millionaire right-winger Osama bin Laden and his cohorts.

After a long and unsuccessful war, the Soviets evacuated the country in February 1989. It is generally thought that the PDP Marxist government collapsed immediately after the Soviet departure. Actually, it retained enough popular support to fight on for another three years, outlasting the Soviet Union itself by a year.

Upon taking over Afghanistan, the mujahideen fell to fighting among themselves. They ravaged the cities, terrorized civilian populations, looted, staged mass executions, closed schools, raped thousands of women and girls, and reduced half of Kabul to rubble. In 2001 Amnesty International reported that the mujahideen used sexual assault as “a method of intimidating vanquished populations and rewarding soldiers.’”

Ruling the country gangster-style and looking for lucrative sources of income, the tribes ordered farmers to plant opium poppy. The Pakistani ISI, a close junior partner to the CIA, set up hundreds of heroin laboratories across Afghanistan. Within two years of the CIA’s arrival, the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland became the biggest producer of heroin in the world.

Largely created and funded by the CIA, the mujahideen mercenaries now took on a life of their own. Hundreds of them returned home to Algeria, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Kashmir to carry on terrorist attacks in Allah’s name against the purveyors of secular “corruption.”

In Afghanistan itself, by 1995 an extremist strain of Sunni Islam called the Taliban—heavily funded and advised by the ISI and the CIA and with the support of Islamic political parties in Pakistan—fought its way to power, taking over most of the country, luring many tribal chiefs into its fold with threats and bribes.

The Taliban promised to end the factional fighting and banditry that was the mujahideen trademark. Suspected murderers and spies were executed monthly in the sports stadium, and those accused of thievery had the offending hand sliced off. The Taliban condemned forms of “immorality” that included premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality. They also outlawed all music, theater, libraries, literature, secular education, and much scientific research.

The Taliban unleashed a religious reign of terror, imposing an even stricter interpretation of Muslim law than used by most of the Kabul clergy. All men were required to wear untrimmed beards and women had to wear the burqa which covered them from head to toe, including their faces. Persons who were slow to comply were dealt swift and severe punishment by the Ministry of Virtue. A woman who fled an abusive home or charged spousal abuse would herself be severely whipped by the theocratic authorities. Women were outlawed from social life, deprived of most forms of medical care, barred from all levels of education, and any opportunity to work outside the home. Women who were deemed “immoral” were stoned to death or buried alive.

None of this was of much concern to leaders in Washington who got along famously with the Taliban. As recently as 1999, the US government was paying the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official. Not until October 2001, when President George W. Bush had to rally public opinion behind his bombing campaign in Afghanistan did he denounce the Taliban’s oppression of women. His wife, Laura Bush, emerged overnight as a full-blown feminist to deliver a public address detailing some of the abuses committed against Afghan women.

If anything positive can be said about the Taliban, it is that they did put a stop to much of the looting, raping, and random killings that the mujahideen had practiced on a regular basis. In 2000 Taliban authorities also eradicated the cultivation of opium poppy throughout the areas under their control, an effort judged by the United Nations International Drug Control Program to have been nearly totally successful. With the Taliban overthrown and a Western-selected mujahideen government reinstalled in Kabul by December 2001, opium poppy production in Afghanistan increased dramatically.

The years of war that have followed have taken tens of thousands of Afghani lives. Along with those killed by Cruise missiles, Stealth bombers, Tomahawks, daisy cutters, and land mines are those who continue to die of hunger, cold, lack of shelter, and lack of water.

The Holy Crusade for Oil and Gas

While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world.

US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.

The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline. Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.

Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

One might agree with John Ryan who argued that if Washington had left the Marxist Taraki government alone back in 1979, “there would have been no army of mujahideen, no Soviet intervention, no war that destroyed Afghanistan, no Osama bin Laden, and no September 11 tragedy.” But it would be asking too much for Washington to leave unmolested a progressive leftist government that was organizing the social capital around collective public needs rather than private accumulation.

US intervention in Afghanistan has proven not much different from US intervention in Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. It had the same intent of preventing egalitarian social change, and the same effect of overthrowing an economically reformist government. In all these instances, the intervention brought retrograde elements into ascendance, left the economy in ruins, and pitilessly laid waste to many innocent lives.

The war against Afghanistan, a battered impoverished country, continues to be portrayed in US official circles as a gallant crusade against terrorism. If it ever was that, it also has been a means to other things: destroying a leftist revolutionary social order, gaining profitable control of one of the last vast untapped reserves of the earth’s dwindling fossil fuel supply, and planting US bases and US military power into still another region of the world.

In the face of all this Obama’s call for “change” rings hollow.

Michael Parenti’s recent books are Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader and the forthcoming God and His Demons. For further information, visit www.michaelparenti.org.


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