Freedom forever for poor Afghans!
Some images haunt us forever, like the Syrian child, Alan Kurdi, who’s lifeless body was washed ashore Turkey’s Bodrum beach. The images of three Afghanis falling from the sky to their inevitable deaths, clinging on, impossibly so in every sense, to the USAF C17 will also remain with us till eternity, the haunting footage of Kabul Airport right after the exit of US forces, will remain etched in our memory too.
Right after 9/11/2001, GWB attacked Afghanistan alongside NATO on October 7, 2001, a timeline fraught with promises that were never honored in letter or spirit to the Afghan people except the installation of a corrupt, puppet government. Almost 20 years later, on August 16, 2021, the Taliban triumphantly captured Kabul from the American posted puppet regime headed by Ashraf Ghani who ran away leaving the Taliban in control of all assets left behind by the Americans and Afghan Army and Government. Billions of dollars of state of the art air power, arms and ammunition, weapons procured with heavily taxed Americans’ income, is now in the hands of tribals with hardly any education but a dangerous mindset of governance laid out in the Russian takeover in the late 70s (more on that later)
Sadly, international media analyzes the aftermath in a very shallow, callous and even inhuman lens, one of worry about Americans “left behind” or their contractors, or of other nations like New Zealand and others.
Women: the obvious casualty, as far back as April 2021 The Guardian spoke of how they feared slavery under Taliban. The Inquirer foretold a gloomy future, also, in April 2021 expressing the opinion of US Lawmakers:
“Members of Congress, many of whom are skeptical about the plans to bring home the 2,500 remaining troops, worry the departure would cede control to the Taliban, whose 1996-2001 rule severely curtailed activities for Afghan women.”
In late July 2021, FP (Foreign Policy ThinkTank), raised concerns on women rights under the Taliban too. All conveniently ignored!
“The fall of Oruzgan to the Taliban, and the reported threat to Kabul, is an unmitigated disaster for the good people of Afghanistan… It is now urgent that the US Administration reverse the course of its final military withdrawal.”
It was clear as day that reverse gear was needed, but the elephantine US administration was not to pay heed under the Guardianship of Senior Joe Biden who should have been resting then presiding over such tricky state of affairs, which, in a way he did, with a much needed Camp David retreat while the Afghan soldiers and so-called President were running away from Kabul and the Taliban were marching in. With rather obvious results.
Ironically, if one goes back in time, the Taliban were created by the Americans back in the late 70s/80s with assistance from the Arabs and Pakistanis to thwart off the Russians. Washington Institutes’ white paper titled “Who is responsible for the Taliban?” is pretty amazing as it goes down to the minutest detail and should be a clear eye-opener for anyone on the root cause of this situation:
“The decision to arm the Afghan resistance came within two weeks of the Soviet invasion, and quickly gained momentum.(21) In 1980, the Carter administration allocated only $30 million for the Afghan resistance, though under the Reagan administration this amount grew steadily. In 1985, Congress earmarked $250 million for Afghanistan, while Saudi Arabia contributed an equal amount. Two years later, with Saudi Arabia still reportedly matching contributions, annual American aid to the mujahidin reportedly reached $630 million.(22) This does not include contributions made by other Islamic countries, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, and Europe. Many commentators cite the huge flow of American aid to Afghanistan as if it occurred in a vacuum; it did not. According to Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, the Soviet Union contributed approximately $5 billion per year into Afghanistan in an effort to support their counterinsurgency efforts and prop up the puppet government in Kabul.”
Thus the Frankenstein was created as rather sarcastically described by TFI, armed with hatred against “Godless infidels” purported to be Communist Russian soldiers of the 80s, only to come back as a boomerang to it’s very founders in 2001! “A is for Allah, J is for Jihad” textbooks printed by the Americans and their allies of those days for young “Talibs” will continue to haunt us… all one has to do is google “University of Nebraska files” and see the beginning of a horror movie given a new lease of life… the lack of foresight in creating “extremist Islam” in a laboratory to dislodge the Russians was a huge axe that seems to continually hit American feet time and again.
Afghanis who loathed the totalitarian, unIslamically Islamic yet claimed to be so Taliban regime were / are not the only affected party. While the Taliban “Government” is announcing a no prejudice against women policy, Khadija Amin, a TV anchor recently fired after Taliban rule tearfully told her story at a Clubhouse chat room:
“I am a journalist and I am not allowed to work,” said Ms. Amin, 28. “What will I do next? The next generation will have nothing, everything we have achieved for 20 years will be gone. The Taliban is the Taliban. They have not changed.”
But then again, besides Afghanis, specially their women, so many others have suffered. More than 2,300 US army personnel lost their lives in the 20 year Afghan war. And about 30 times that number or almost 60,000 Pakistanis died during this war as their army, also, fought the Taliban. Many invested in Afghanistan’s rebuilding. But one thing has been missing all along since 2001 by the Americans. Ownership.
This takes us back to the 19th century. The British Empire then was the largest ever colonisation of the world with about of a quarter of the world’s population and area spanning from Asia to Africa, even the US in the early days!
The British were no angels, they maintained strict control despite no modern communication tools, internet, air travel and yet, they kept a tight leash on their slaves of yesteryears by no means commendable, yet they were on top of things in their colonies.
The New Yorker, in an excellent effort, describes the cons of the British Empire often portrayed as a selfless, virtuous effort to “promote democracy” which it calls “MisRemembering the British Empire.”
But not all was evil and selfish during the British Empire! The writer’s father, S M Owais, was an Indian Civil Services Officer in the 1930s and 40s under the “RaJ” as it was called, treated with respect and dignity, and his many suggestions including one on using the Hindi language in courtrooms via translators for the English Magistrates and Judges (of which my father was one too) was accepted by the then British rulers. He often remarked, till his deathbed, that the British used to say before they left in 1947 that “the Indians (encompassing the whole as we know today as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan) are excellent subordinates, but terrible masters.”
Call the British Colonials of yesteryears evil, plunderers, looters, whatever you like, but you will find an uncanny reality check in how they described the inept, insecure, incompetent, insensitive, inhuman, corrupt and reckless so called “leadership” of ex colonies, look into India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, African nations, it’s the same story! A JSTOR article describes post colonial corruption in graphic detail, how the leadership in India, Pakistan and so forth became “Brown Sahebs” and rule their people to this day no better then “slaves of the same color.”
Ironically, a Pakistan Military General friend once explained that the British left detailed manuals and complete system of governance for the military, bureaucracy and justice systems. Everything was explained to the minutest detail possible. He went on to say that specific to Pakistan, our Army has remained a staunch follower of the British recruitment, management and leadership practices, values and philosophies, obviously with evolution over time, and has hence remained the most competent institution compared to others in bureaucracy and judiciary both infamous for massive corruption and mismanagement, because they disregarded the “instruction manual” left by the English.
The irony doesn’t stop here, the trigger happy hateful Indians and Pakistanis (towards each other) BOTH have British systems put in place and followed in their governance mechanism!
And perhaps the most obvious benefit of the British 90 year old rule of India from 1857 to 1947 is the fact that I could converse in English, have some table manners, a sense of humor and above all ideals of equality and fairness, things lacking aplenty in the Muslim Mogul or Hindu Raja rule of India before the English came in.
The British also left railroads, the famous GT Road in Pakistan or the “Grand Trunk” road made by the English still strong! African and Asian railroads, you could argue the British used them to siphon off resources, that is true, but is it not so that infrastructure helps a nation to get it’s act together and almost all colonies had it!
Now contrast this with the Americans!
Pretty simple and straightforward. Had the Americans been less boastful in proclaiming “deliverance” to third world nations they invaded for various reasons from terrorism to non existent WMDs, and instead learned the ART of governance and change from the British, we may then have seen a different Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya (remember what happened, Chris Stevens?), as the 51st, 52nd and 53rd States of the USofA where the Americans would have brought about their great human values, judiciary, tax, education (leave out healthcare though) systems to these nations. Given their people hope and the people of the region a “way out” of their miseries (read “the totalitarian Iranian regime”) among others.
But as fate would ordain this was never to be! The Americans couldn’t see beyond their nose, arms, oil, “bases” and some loose knit “anti terrorism” – this was it, I mean IT! No ownership! Afghanistan left to the dogs, Iraq and Libya not too far off.
AFTER spending a trillion + dollars and dead soldiers plus other sides armies and civilians! The phrase “much ado for nothing” comes to mind…
The only way out, as I see it, is to pay heed to the advice of H’able ex PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd, which is to go BACK to Afghanistan and (my advice) govern it as benevolent rulers enabling them to have an America-like democracy, thus attacking the root of the problem.
The British may come in handy for some good advice should our “know-all” American friends deem appropriate?
About time we saw real change than a regression back to the stone ages…