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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Who is Hamid Karzai?

In foreign policy, war and peace on April 5, 2010 at 12:17 am

Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, has a closet overflowing with skeletons. Karzai has been portrayed by western media as a democratically-elected leader bent on waging a war against the evil Taliban. In reality, he is a corrupt former mujahideen who has a history of Taliban association.

Most Americans, if they have heard of him, have no knowledge of who Hamid Karzai really is. Karzai’s approval of a controversial bill specifying a wife’s sexual duties and restricting when a woman can leave home in 2009 hinted at the president’s true self.

Retired US Army officer Matthew Hoh who resigned in protest of the Afghan war called the Karzai government “corrupt and illegitimate” in an interview with Russia Today.

“American soldiers, European soldiers, soldiers from NATO should not be dying to support or prop up the Karzai government,” he said. “We’ll look at ourselves 5, 10, 15 years from now and wonder why did we allow our young men to die in support of that government.”

But the Afghani president is more than just corrupt — he is dangerous.

Karzi, like Osama bin Laden, was among the original mujahideen or “freedom fighters” employed by the CIA to overthrow Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 80s. The president’s official website states:

“Hamid Karzai traveled to Pakistan and joined the Mujahideen resisting the Soviet occupation of his homeland. When the Mujahideen Government was established in Kabul in 1992, he was appointed as its Deputy Foreign Minister.”

But the website makes no mention of Karzai’s initial support of the Taliban. Instead, it briefly describes the “civil war between various Mujahideen groups” and highlights Karzai’s fight against the Taliban. Referring to Kazai’s father, the release says:

“In August 1999, Abdul Ahad Karzai, who was organizing resistance to the Taliban from his base in Quetta, Pakistan, was assassinated by the Taliban and their foreign supporters. This tragedy did not shake the Karzai family’s commitment to ridding Afghanistan of this foreign menace, and the son continued his father’s struggle against the Taliban. Hamid Karzai returned to Uruzgan province in October 2001, and worked to coordinate local efforts to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and their supporters.”

But according to a PBS Online News Hour Report, Karzai initially viewed the Taliban as a force for good:

“When the Taliban first began to emerge in the early 1990s, Karzai supported them. A native of the region around Kandahar, he saw the Taliban as a force that could finally end the violence.”

The report goes on to say Karzai withdrew his support after suspecting the Taliban to be under foreign influence.

Writer for The Washington Post, Ann Marlowe, describes the notion that Karzai is Afghanistan’s defense against the Taliban as an “illusion.” In her article, Two Myths About Afghanistan, Marlowe points to Karzai’s praise of the Taliban:

“On Aug. 20, 1998, the day the United States sent cruise missiles to kill Osama bin Laden, Karzai told The Post that ‘there were many wonderful people in the Taliban.’ Yes, Karzai fought the Taliban — for a month in 2001, when we insisted.”

One thing is for certain, Afghanistan does not pose a simple good-vs.-evil dilemma. The country has a long history of foreign (especially US) intervention, corruption and oppression. Karzai appears to be one of many interested in self promotion at the Afghan peoples’ expense. The United States should not be taking part in what officer Hoh describes as a “35 year-old civil war.”

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Bin Laden, Taliban; American made

In foreign policy on March 31, 2010 at 2:01 am

What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war? — Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Above: Former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter and former foreign policy advisor to Senator Barrack Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, visits the Mujahideen in Pakistan.

In the late 70s, President Jimmy Carter began a covert CIA operation in Afghanistan known as “Operation Cyclone.” The goal of the mission was to train and arm ragtag “freedom fighters” in the hills of Afghanistan to fight against occupying Soviet forces. At the time, the fighters were known as the Mujahideen — we now know them as Osama bin Laden, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.  

Like the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically elected Iranian government in 1953, “Operation Cyclone” resulted in serious blowback and further fueled the rise of radical Islam. Ironically, President George W. Bush spent more than seven years fighting the terrorists Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan helped create.

Sources:

The Road To September 11, Newsweek, Oct 1, 2001

The Oily Americans, Time Magazine, May 19, 2003

How the CIA created Osama bin Laden, the Green Left, Sept 19, 2001

Brzezinski: Surge In Afghanistan Risky, Some McCain Backers Want World War IV, The Huffington Post, July 25, 2008

The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan, Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur, January 1998

America’s foreign policy; promoting ‘Peace on Earth?’

In foreign policy, war and peace on December 10, 2009 at 5:05 am

The holiday season is upon us once again. The time of year where everyone runs around with Merry Christmas on their lips and tidings of comfort and joy. The time of year when all Americans, not just Charlie Brown, ponder the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a peaceful time of year — or, at least it’s supposed to be.

This is the irony that is America. A self-declared peaceful nation, where 80 percent of the population professes to be Christian. Whether or not American is a Christian nation is debatable. Whether or not it is a peaceful nation is not debatable.

With troops in 70 percent of the world’s countries and current conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States seems to be in a perpetual state of war — never satisfied with the extent of its empire. However, the American people, unlike their government, appear to be growing weary of the violence.

A recent poll shows a slim majority of Americans support the troop surge in Afghanistan and 49 percent of Americans now say the United States should “mind its own business in the world.” And, in hopes of stemming that tide of violence and war, they went to the polls on Nov. 4, 2008 and voted for Barack Obama. Hoping he was the “anti-Bush” as Reginald Dale, senior fellow for the European program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, puts it. But alas, President Obama turned out to be just a more charming version of President Bush.

Not only has President Obama not withdrawn troops as promised, he’s instead escalated the wars, sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan and increasing drone attacks in Pakistan. And today, as President Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize, he will give a speech on America’s desire to seek peace “in a world where sometimes to won’t be able to avoid a war,” said Jon Favreau, Obama’s chief speechwriter. Surely Mother Teresa is rolling over in her grave.

To be sure, there are those that argue that by waging wars and overthrowing other nation’s tyrannical regimes, America is promoting peace in the world. After all, it’s our duty as leader of the free world to promote democracy; even if it’s at the end of a gun. Such a concept is not only incorrect, it’s completely illogical.

How can one promote peace through violence? How can one decrease pain and suffering through waging war? How can one force democracy and freedom on a people?

But such is the rational of the American government.

Perhaps it was the Vietnam war, perhaps it was Nixon, but the American people seem to be waking up to the reality that America’s foreign policy is costly. Unlike their blindly patriotic predecessors, today’s generation questions its government’s intent for going to war — and with good reason.

Graphic exhibit shows ‘cost of war’

In foreign policy, media, war and peace on October 27, 2009 at 11:51 pm

When I first beginning flipping through the digital images, I was fine. The pictures mostly showed explosions and damaged cars and buildings. But as I got deeper into the exhibit, the photos got more and more gruesome. By the end, I was squinting my eyes and forcing myself to finish.

The photographers who took the pictures are both Israeli and Palestinian. They captured images, not of some foreign war zone, but of the war zone that is their backyards.

I think it’s necessary that we, as Americans, often remind ourselves of the costs of war.

The other day while reading an online news story about the Sunday car bombings in Iraq, I was struck by the lack of “real” photos — or those that accurately displayed the damages to human life.

American journalism censors images deemed too graphic for the pubic for various reasons. The reason cited more often than not, is a respect for the victims and their families.

I’ve usually agreed with this stance; feeling that some things are just too private to share with the world. Callous journalism concerned only with getting the story is not something I hope to achieve as a student of journalism.

But lately I’ve felt more and more that Americans, being so safely removed from the violence, have an immature view of war. And while many of us have friends and family serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have not personally experienced the gruesome scenes as the soldiers have.

My point is not to belittle Americans or suggest they haven’t paid for the cost of these wars. Many have. But when all we hear in the news is statistics of dead soldiers and civilians and stories of car bombs and insurgent fighting, we can’t possibly grasp the death and destruction actually taking place. Our imaginations fail us.

Beware of the Cost of War is an exhibit displaying the works of both Palestinian and Israeli photojournalist on the front lines of their conflict. It went on display Friday in various London studios and will be on display until Thursday. However, for those limited by travel, the exhibit can be seen online here.

The online exhibit initially displays the images with no captions. Hopefully this way, viewers will see the images without taking a “side” or making distinctions in nationality and religion.

The myth of women’s liberation in Afghanistan

In women's rights on October 8, 2009 at 4:53 am

(Note: The film, “Rethinking Afghanistan,” is showing Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7:00 p.m. at MSSU’s Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall.)

Yesterday marked the 8-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. As support for the war is reaching an all-time-low, I find myself siding with popular opinion.

However, although I view the war as a complete and utter failure, I believed it to be successful in the area of women’s rights — until yesterday.

We’ve all scene the portrayals of the happy, newly-liberated Afghan women. The media has told us they are now teachers, politicians and business women. And some of them are. But a video I stumbled across yesterday shattered the myth I held. I believed that change in Afghan law necessarily meant change in the lives of Afghan women.

On the contrary, it appears existence has worsened for the average Afghan woman.

Sonali Kolhatkar, co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission, and Mariam Rawi, member of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, stated in an article:

“The U.S. invasion has been a failure, and increasing the U.S. troop presence will not undo the destruction the war has brought to the daily lives of Afghans.

Here are the facts: After the invasion, Americans received reports that newly liberated women had cast off their burquas and gone back to work. Those reports were mythmaking and propaganda. Aside from a small number of women in Kabul, life for Afghan women since the fall of the Taliban has remained the same or become much worse.”

Kolhatkar and Rawi appear to be right.

I, like many Americans, was under the ridiculous notion that the force of law had changed the hearts of Afghan men. On the contrary, it seems to have made many of them more grounded in their sexist ideology. In April, President Hamid Karzai signed legislation legalizing rape in marriage. The law also prevents women from leaving their house without the permission of their husbands.

Many Afghan women and women’s rights groups attribute the increasing abuse to U.S. action. Specifically, America’s support for the mujahideen’s return to power.

The mujahideen were the U.S.-supported predecessors of the Taliban. Like the Taliban, they are radically sexist and oppressive of women — and they are now in control.

My discovery of the true state of women’s affairs in Afghanistan has only further convinced me that an outside force cannot liberate another people. As was the case with the American Revolution, it seems that it is the hearts and minds of the oppressed that must desire for themselves freedom — and then choose to act on that desire.

My sentiment echoes that of Orzala Ashraf with the Afghan Women’s Network:

“I don’t believe and I don’t expect any outside power to come and liberate me. If I can not liberate myself, no one from outside can liberate me.”

For more reading, click here.

One anti-war advocate still standing

In protest, war, war and peace on October 6, 2009 at 1:52 am

The anti-war left has virtually disappeared from Americas political scene since the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Shame on them.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have not improved — on the contrary, theyve only worsened. Violence has escalated. Increasing numbers of U.S. troops are being sent to Afghanistan while Iraq is being taken over by private contractors.

But one antiwar advocate, mother of slain soldier Cindy Sheehan, is not backing down.

Yesterday Sheehan, along with an estimated 500 protesters, gathered outside the White House to voice their opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sixty one people were arrested for failure to obey a lawful order after the crowd was repeatedly asked to move back from the sidewalk, according to CNN. Sheehan was among those arrested.

 

To those who believed electing Barack Obama meant change, its time to wake up. Anti-war leftists can no longer cling to the belief that Iraq and the war on terror were Bushs wars. Bush is out. Obama is in.

Hes been our Commander-in-Chief for more than 8 months now. If Barack Obama is serious about withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan he should do so.

At the  very least, he should not be in the process of leading Americans into future conflicts with Pakistan and Iran.