Afghanistan, the Taliban and women/girls – and a poem

(contribution by Tom Griffiths)

With the Afghan government’s ignominious defeat on the tail of the US government’s humiliating withdrawal, a lot – and I mean a lot – of gloating has been in evidence on Farcebook by ostensible leftists, some of whom are former comrades, celebrating another defeat for good ole US imperialism.

Pointing out the defeat and the role of the US in effectively setting up this situation is not the problem. What the problem is is the total (this might be an exaggeration, but not by much) silence on the fate of the Afghan people, in particular Afghan women.

Nowhere amongst my former comrades do I see an ‘ok, now the Yanks and their lackeys have gone the main enemy of the people is the Taliban and the most likely means of defeating them will be through armed struggle.’ Instead, there is silence. If this continues for more than a nanosecond this silence transforms into collusion. Left in form, right in essence we could call it.

A year or so ago I wrote a poem celebrating the bravery and example of a 15 year old girl in regional Afghanistan who, in response to her parents being gunned down before her sought out her father’s machine gun and killed the murderers, at least one of whom was Taliban. I reprint it below:

Qamar Gul and a father’s teaching

As others forgot to question

And rushed to defend the

Old verities and

Inherited wisdom.

As others remained fast

Confusing darkness for light

The old spell began to break

And its truths began to decay

As others panicked

Shielding themselves

From the revealing light

Confusion spread and freedom beckoned.

From the depths ghouls and false healers emerged

Screaming and cajoling

Harnessing death and instilling fear

Settling old scores and new alike.

Such times are indeed dangerous.

How was this man to protect his family?

What if he should fall?

Can friend still be seen from foe?

What if he should fall?

Tradition dictates his daughter’s marriage

The past may still protect…

But what if these ways are not enough?

What if they should fail?

He placed his gun into her hands

He’ll teach her what to do

If fall he should and well he may

Let new ways show the way.

When death came bursting through the door

Stealing her parents from her

This father’s girl knew what to do

And didn’t fail to do it.

Conquering fear

Harnessing anger

She honored her father’s teachings

And moved into the light.

Postscript:

I wrote this poem a year ago when news of Qamar Gul’s actions made international news. I was very impressed by her bravery and the example she was setting – and worry about her safety now given that the Taliban are back in control. When I completed the poem I sent it to a young Afghani colleague and asked her to check the accuracy of its ‘line’ and suggest corrections if necessary. She gave it the thumbs up.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-22/afghan-girl-kills-two-taliban-after-they-killed-her-parents/12479568

32 thoughts on “Afghanistan, the Taliban and women/girls – and a poem

  1. Good work Thomas. The ongoing march of Islamo-fascism is a serious concern.

    After many years of happily accepting the mind set of ‘Yankees go home’, the reality in Afghanistan is the antithesis of that. How the Afghan people overcome this, how we support them, is a major challenge. Afghanistan has always been that strategic link from West to East that the major powers have always sought to control. Now It’s not just a question of the Islamo-fascists in power, but who do they make deals with at the expense of their people?

    The importance of the U S in assisting the Afghani people is indicative of the interregnum as Gramsci spoke about. The old ways are going, gone, but the new ways are not yet born.

    Glen!

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    • Quite so Glen. Without meaning this to be flippant we have putative lefties and anti imperialists screaming ‘Yankee go home’ and heaps of Afghani people saying ‘Can we come too’. Their voices, female ones in particular, need to be listened to. The defacto united front between the Islamo-fascists and the anti imperialists pseudo left reminds me that the Nazis were anti imperialist (British) too and said so. There are some forms of anti imperialism that are profoundly reactionary and that help prop up pre modern and anti democratic social formations. Zizek makes a point that the Taliban and their ilk are strenuously anti western because they are morally revolted and threatened by cultural changes and advances in the west like women’s lib, gay rights, secularism and the free (or, more accurately, freer) development of the individual. If these ‘infections’ get past the spiritual/religious and political ‘immune systems’ of the host country spiritual and cultural collapse ensues (in the days of Covid19 what other metaphors am I supposed to use). Their problem is not with products produced by factories, for example, but cultural ‘products’.

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  2. Hi Tom just some points if I may. People at this site argued that at times the interests of Imperialism and the interests of the people align, WW2 being the exemplar. I agree that this confluence of interests can happen so we should not be surprised when Imperialism changes its mind and decides to go in another direction. The US leadership decided 20 years ago that it was in their interests to knock over the Taliban and promote western democratic ideas in Afghanistan. The current US leadership are again quite clear as Secretary of State Blinken recently said we have no national interest staying in Afghanistan

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/15/blinken-says-remaining-in-afghanistan-is-not-in-the-us-national-interest-.html

    Just a point about the Taliban. It might come as a surprise but the Taliban is popular. Especially out in the country side and this popularity can be summed up in one word corruption. The Taliban run an administration that people can and do live with. Their system of law courts will give everyone the same outcome. This is revolutionary in Afghanistan as is their system of police check points. A person entering a Taliban check point can be assured that the check point is not just a shakedown operation. Schools under every other administration just like every government run organisation the school runs haphazardly just as the army has ghost soldiers so schools have ghost teachers. Not in Taliban controlled areas, teachers turn up. And yes I realise that not much comfort to girls but in the countryside people may not share our concern about female education. When I was a kid I higher education was not free and I can recall adults discussing the decision to be made about sending a daughter to uni all along the reasoning of wasting money on someone destined to become a mother and house wife. That was Australia 1960’s

    Back to Imperialism. The US has a deal with the Taliban. We know so far that it involves the US leaving and the Taliban not attacking US troops as they leave but I would not be surprised to find that theres much more. The US and the Taliban have a shared enemy and that is Islamic State. The only people capable of defeating Islamic State in Afghanistan are the Taliban. Oops the US has accidentally left the Taliban with a treasure trove of weapons. I wouldnt be surprised if the US also starts to feed them satellite imagery.

    The US went into Afghanistan under the false belief that they could just knock the Taliban over. At the time I argued that this belief was false. For 20 year the US have been lying saying that the Afghan army was good and the Afghan government was sound and that the war was going well, end in sight sort of stuff while their confidential intel was telling them the exact opposite. Now at least they are admitting the truth.
    You guys should understand from Mao that the Taliban run a peoples war I get my insights from Rambo 111

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  3. I thought the analysis was that after 9/11 US imperialism would, through it’s own self interest help to drain the swamp that breeds terrorism. Good try but it hasn’t turned out that way, due to the internal corruption of a failing empire. The women and girls who were given hope might see this betrayal as part of the problem. There are a couple of good videos that spell out the detail here:

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    • Bill I just dont get the idea that the US is a failing empire. The age of empires has past so its hard for an empire to fail because there just arnt any empires left. OK so the US is the dominant nation in the world. Is it failing in that role? I dont think so, yes the US looks chaotic and gets a lot of bad press but this chaos is both the result of the freewheeling market of ideas and a self imposed straight jacket that they can reverse with a snap of the fingers. Yes as I pointed out earlier the US government spends 0.6% of its budget on research and development it can snap its fingers and and bang it up to 10% without missing a beat. Some argue that the US government is going broke but again snap the fingers, the rich have had tax cut after tax cut since Reagan. Joe just needs to sell the message that the US is in a race with China and the public will buy increased taxes. Marginal tax rate in 1950’s was over 90%
      Speaking of China which will or has overtaken the US in manufactured goods well hold my beer the US has engineered this to be so. They unloaded lots of manufacturing to China so that this could be done cheaper to the benefit of US firms. China is a dictatorship which has some advantages in streamlined decision making as opposed to gridlock in Washington but in the end a dictatorship is only as good as the top guy and eventually they are going to get a dud. (recently Xi Jinpin has made some really bad decisions but that a whole other argument) Internationally China is in the weak position. At this stage of its development it is dependent on exports if it got too far out of line US and EU embargoes or tariffs would present it with a huge headache But dont worry that wont happen. But the threat is there. China has had decades of uninterrupted economic growth we are still yet to see how they handle an economic crisis. I think they will do ok but it depends on the crisis. They managed to reduce the role of shadow banking but if I was a Chinese economic planner it might keep me up at night.
      OK the US has just lost Afghanistan. If it wasnt for the airport thing we would have moved on already. The US doesnt need Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, or Iraq for that matter. It would have been better if those places had turned out better but they are what they are.
      Saudi Arabia is important, the EU is important and China is important and thats about it. Saudi Arabia will become less important and the 3 countries in South America that comprise the lithium triangle will become more important.
      The US is the most important nation in the world and I dont see that changing anytime soon. In our life time the US has given the world the mobile phone, the internet and silicon valley the rest of the world imitates the US or makes their phones. Ill pay attention to the US in decline argument when someone else takes the lead in tech.

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  4. Writing poetry for women and girls is good but where were we when the Soviets invaded. They promoted womens role in society they protected schools. The Mujahideen bombed schools and terrorised girls. I know where I stood, it was in favour of national liberation but I winced when I heard accounts of what our allies were doing to women and girls.
    The draining the swamps theory promised to kill the mosquitos. 20 years of swamp draining and even the old mosquitos are fighting the new ones which are larger more violent and take over countries rather than take over air planes.
    I look back I think fuck I once supported people who targeted women and targeted schools but I was so much older then Im younger than that now.

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  5. Too true Thomas.

    Interestingly there appears to be a degree of collaboration between the US & the Taliban to counter the threat of ISIS-K: it make total sense to me. Let’s see how the it pans out before midnight August 31. But as well as the issue of Islamo-fascism, I’m intrigued at whatever regional players the Taliban make deals with.

    The current Taliban leadership look more ‘savvy’ of the outside world than their predecessors. Their political acumen seems more sophisticated; so far. What is the role of Russia & China in this setting? There was apparently a recent comment by the Russian foreign minister that they had been talking to the Taliban for 7 years in preparation for this day.

    The strategic impact for Russia, China, & Iran is big. I’m intrigued how close China & Russia may now be; no overt alliance between them, but….There will be a lot more twists and turns in Afghanistan coming. For now the primary thing is supporting the populace, especially the women and girls, who would again feel, with damn good reason, betrayed and at severe risk.

    Glen!

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  6. Hhmm, I thought I made a comment yesterday: it seems to have gone into the ether.

    I’m curious about what is happening with the US & the Taliban, hearing statements they are working together in hunting down elements of ISIS-K. It’s not too long since CIA Director William Burns had talks with Taliban leaders. Information sharing, collaborative military actions, against a shared enemy? It has that appearance.

    Beyond that the porous boundaries of Afghanistan, and its regional importance, is certainly going to be hotly contested. With large, well founded, fears of the Sunni Taliban persecuting the Shia Hazara what will the leadership of Shia, Iran do?

    Of course Russia and China have major roles to play in the direction Afghanistan takes. The Russian foreign minister apparently said they had been in touch with the Taliban for 7 years in preparation for this day.

    Beyond this the primary concern for us is the humanitarian crisis unfolding there as people try to flee. It is girls, and women, who will suffer the most if the Taliban are true to form. On their first appearances the Taliban seem more savvy, more in touch with the ways of the modern world than their predecessors were. Let’s see how long this appearance lasts.

    Glen!

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    • One of the interesting dynamics will be between the Taliban leadership who have been negotiating in Doha presumably living in 5 start hotels and the Taliban who have been living in caves. I expect that one set are looking to present well to the outside world while the other set not so much. They made a smart move to declare an amnesty for everyone its an obvious lie but its the right thing to say.
      Fred Halliday pricked my conscience when we were all gung ho for the Mujahideen

      https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday/

      PS I tried to post a couple of times yesterday and when I hit Post Comment they just disappeared.

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  7. Look Ill cut to the chase. I think that someone needs to step forward and make a self criticism about the drain the swamp theory. Its not good enough to say it was a good try or now admire an interview with a contributing editor of anti war .com or to say that the gloating of the pseudos is a bit rich.
    This parrot is dead and someone should step forward and say yes this parrot is dead

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    • The gloating of the pseudo-left over Afghanistan is more than a bit rich. It’s disgraceful. As for ‘draining the swamps’ in the Middle East, the metaphor was an appropriate one, an accurate description of the new foreign policy strategic direction with the rise of the neo-cons. Unfortunately, it no longer applies. Trump overturned it completely. Not surprisingly, Bush and Blair are utterly hated by the overt far-Right in the UK and USA. Also not surpisngly, the pseudo-left share the view for the same basic reasons.

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      • Thanks Barry, my circle of political friends is pretty small these days but no one I know has gloated over the defeat for America. The discussion goes straight to the refugee issue and the appalling situation that any one in Afghanistan with anti Taliban sympathies has now been placed. I am a bit torn between anger that the US is leaving and admiration for Biden that he was able to break with decades of lies and declare the parrot deceased. However withdrawal was a move taken with just US interests as the concern. The US made a promise to the Afghan people and I think that they should have kept the promise. We should have smelt a rat as soon as the US and the Taliban started talks from which the Afghan government were excluded, that sort of meeting has an ominous history.
        I dont see the draining of the swamp as just a metaphor but as part of a theoretical framework. These ideas lead people to believe that Afghanistan could be modernised, that Iraq would produce a democratic outcome that would be the model for the middle east and that this would lead to a resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli question. Many efforts were expended in arguing for this theory which still has one leg to go in that Arthur predicted that if the US left Afghanistan regional war would follow.
        My whole point is that theory is useful to explain what is happening in the world and its is also useful to examine why theories failed and this is best done by the people who were well versed in them. Hence people offer up self criticism. My self criticism goes back to the soviet invasion I knee jerked support to the Mujahideen without doing enough analysis on what they stood for and how totally unfit they were to rule a country. In retrospect I think that it was fine to object to the Soviet invasion but this should never have spilled over into support people who would and who did target girls and schools. My self criticism is that I supported stuff before I had become sufficiently informed.
        This argument still motivates me because over the last 20 years when I raised issues about the Afghans and Iraqis not being ‘ready’ for democracy this was met with insinuation that I was a bit racist and/or a bit reactionary when what I was trying to do was point out that these societies were tribal and in Afghanistans case geographically unsuited to a strong centralised system. When I put ready in quotes what I mean is that anyone is ready however an occupying power would need to put in the sort of effort required to establish democracies in Germany and Japan and I always thought that the current US overseas adventures were done on the cheap and bound to fail.

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  8. Steve, Biden, like Trump, shares your view of the ‘Draining the Swamps’ strategic thinking. But I don’t know how you can feel comfortable with all the far-Right groups sharing your view. I’d think deeply about that, if I were in your shoes.

    I’ve been reading lots about how life for Aghanis, especially women, improved over the past 20 years of US-NATO intervention/occupation. There wasn’t a US death for 18 months. Well, not until the recent deaths via Biden’s withdrawal. The remnant ‘Swamp Drainers’ in the Republican Party, such as John McCain, were overthrown by Trump’s party leadership coup.

    You seem to be forgetting a lot. Think about why we – and you – opposed the Soviet invasion. Have you forgotten that Afghani communists were in a united front with the mujahideen against the Soviets? Have you forgotten the toll caused by the Soviets during their ten year reign? At least two million Afghanis killed, many more wounded, six million refugees during that period.

    I won’t call you ‘racist’ but you are being reactionary in your long-time peddling of the old colonialist view that ‘the natives are not ready for democracy’. You were wrong back then, with Iraq, and you are wrong now. If you think Iraq is worse off now than it was under the fascist dictatorship, then again either you’ve forgotten how things were, and the toll caused by the regime (including by its desperate remnants after the 2003 invasion) or you actually prefer the faux-stability, based on state terror, of such regimes over the democratic aspirations and revolutionary struggles of the people.

    Do you really think it was coincidence that after Saddam’s overthrow, neighbouring countries whose populations included large swathes that had been born into tryranny, who knew nothing else, suddenly started to experience uprisings after seeing that it could be done?

    If there is anything politically I am self-critical about it’s that for 50 years, since the fairly quick defeat of the US in Veitnam, I have underestimated how long these struggles take to win, how they don’t just move forward but rather in twists and turns, with set-backs along the way, and that the struggles continue for a very long time even after winning.

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  9. Hi Barry thanks for your reply. I wasnt for the Soviet invasion. I now look apon it like I look on the US invasion of Afghanistan or the Invasion of Iraq. I oppose all these invasions because of the potential of each to make the situation worse. Fred Halliday said the “troops out now” slogan is idiocy. I agree.
    In the first few weeks of the Iraq invasion I did argue that a swift hand over to Iraqi’s might avoid the rise of the resistance but I only argued this until the Resistance had become a thing.
    Now with the Afghan mujahideen I am aware that Maoists were part of the armed struggle against the Soviets but the guts of the mujahideen were war lords, drug lords, islamic fanatics some with a penchant for pedophilia. They in no way represented an alternative government. The soviets on the other hand no matter how much we oppose what they did represented equality for women and offered protection against the mujahideen who were targeting women and bombing schools and yes I am aware of war crimes committed by the soviets.
    As to me holding the same views a right wing people well thats just a certainty that will happen to us all. I try to make my decisions on the basis of what would be in the interests of the Afghan people or the Iraqi people.
    Just as a heads up the US has announced troops out of Iraq by years end. Ive already read reports about interpreters in Iraq who are getting very concerned about being left behind.

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  10. As I pointed out before the word that dominates Afghanistan is corruption. Imperialism cant deal with the corruption that it fosters. If you cant come to terms with this then you should not pontificate to the left about how dysfunctional our theory and practice is. Sheesh even the Economist can see this clearly.

    https://www.economist.com/international/2021/08/22/why-america-keeps-building-corrupt-client-states

    Happy to be described as pseudo left if you think that the US is draining the swamp.

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    • The problem was, and is, that the US stopped seeking to drain the swamps long ago – Obama’s betrayal of the Syrians (the ‘red line’), Trump’s isolationism and now Biden continuing it.

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      • Barry the US stopped seeking to drain the swamps because it didnt work. It was tried in Iraq and Iraq ended up with Islamic state a far worse terrorism problem than Al Qaeda. They tried it in Afghanistan but their intel reports indicate that the Afghan war was lost years ago. You cant blame the Americans for this. They tried in Iraq and got Islamic State they tried in Afghanistan and ended up preferring the Taliban over Islamic State. They tried in Libya and its now worse than under Gadhafi. They tried in Syria in that they allowed Saudi Arabia to supply the rebels with US made tow antitank missiles that turned the conflict against the regimen only to have this advantage negated by the introduction of Russian ground attack aircraft. You cant blame the Americans for this they had a choice to escalate the war and in the end they didnt think that Syria was worth it.
        So my point is that you cant blame the Americans for over throwing a failed idea.
        Obama, Trump and Biden didnt betray the Syrians because they dont represent Syrians they represent the interests of the US ruling class and unto that class they must be true.

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  11. Tom your thoughts about the slaughter of women under the Taliban is clear and fine. What do you think about the women who were slaughtered when we supported the Mujahedeen?

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  12. Steve, I think the US-led invason and occupation of Iraq resulted in the overthrow of a fascist regime and created a situation more widely in which no US admin will be able to again impose such a regime on any country in the region.

    Iraq has a nasty corrupt government but it is nowhere near as bad as Saddam’s – to suggest otherwise would be out of touch with reality. It’s easy to forget. Iraqis continue to vote in federal and provinical elections in large numbers. There’s one coming up in October. No party can expect 97% of the vote, as happened regularly under the old regime.

    Lots of good happened in Afghanistan over the past 20 years – unless, of course, the refugees I’m hearing on TV and radio have it wrong. They are leaving because they fear the loss of those ahcievements under US-NATO intervention.

    As for Syria, a NFZ would have averted so much suffering – half the population displaced, half of that number (6.5 million) fled overseas as refugees. Obama laid down a red line regarding chemical weapons. Assad brazenly crossed it. Nothing happened. That’s betrayal. Half a million Syrians dead – thanks to Assad’s barrel bombs and Putin’s air force – and the west’s failure to intervene militarily.

    When Trump launched that token raid on one of Assad’s airstrips, giving prior warning about it, the far Right were outraged. A demonstration was held in the US supported by David Duke (former KKK leader) and the Coalition to Stop the War. And you wonder why some of us embrace the notion that there’s a pseudo-left?

    I’ve long believed in the old folksong, ‘Which side are you on?’. Can you believe that the same ‘leftists’ who opposed the war against the regime in Iraq and who are now indistinguishable (except in superifical ways) from the overt far Right in their support for isolationism, also take the side of the Chinese capitalist regime against the pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong? There’s a consistency and a pattern.

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  13. Barry Im happy to acknowledge that the US invasion of Iraq ended the dictatorship of Saddam that is clearly a positive and elections are now a regular feature of Iraqi life which is also a positive, not an argument.
    My point is that if the purpose of the invasion was to drain the swamp that gave rise to mosquitos (terrorists) then its a failure based on the fact that the invasion lead to the production of bigger mosquitos (Islamic State)
    I agree with the basic argument that has been put forward at 21stC that the US ruling class will do whats in their interests and that sometimes the interests of that ruling class and the population in general will overlap. This has always been so just as the eradication of epidemics is in the ruling classes interest it is also in the interests of we the people.
    Where my dispute comes with you is that I agree that we need to take measures to reduce terrorism.
    The US President said that terrorists attack because they hate our freedoms.
    The man in charge of terrorism Mr Bin Laden wrote a letter explaining that their motivating idea was that the US kills Muslims and that the US has bases in Saudi Arabia.
    Now the left had 2 responses to the 9/11 attacks one involved killing more Muslims and the other was arguing that we should kill less Muslims.
    Well the US went ahead and killed more Muslims and the terrorists escalated from individual acts to occupying cities.

    In bin Laden’s November 2002 “Letter to America”, he said that al-Qaeda’s motives for the attacks included Western support for attacking Muslims in Somalia, supporting Russian atrocities against Muslims in Chechnya, supporting the Indian oppression against Muslims in Kashmir, support for Israel in Lebanon, the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, US support of Israel, and sanctions against Iraq.

    Barry if the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had lead to a noticeable reduction in terrorism then I hope that I would have the intellectual honesty to admit that my assessment was wrong.

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    • I read Bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America’ written in 2002 – thanks for reminding me about it. Yes, he uses Palestine and Somalia as examples of why the US should be hated but he also talks about the decadence and “debauchery” of western civilization (“The worst civilization witnessed by the history of mankind”), as he sees it, of women’s lib and homosexuality etc. His anti-semitism is overt – he condemns Jews as being behind the evil. AIDS is “a Satanic American invention”. He doesn’t once condemn Zionism but hates Jews. The American people are his enemy, not just the government. In his first point, he opposes governments supported by the US because they stand in the way of the establishment of Sharia and, of course, “have surrendered to the Jews”.

      Also: “You refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement” (laugh or cry?).

      Good to be reminded as to why the Muslim peoples are fighting for democracy – and why we should support them.

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  14. “Can you believe that the same ‘leftists’ who opposed the war against the regime in Iraq and who are now indistinguishable (except in superifical ways) from the overt far Right in their support for isolationism, also take the side of the Chinese capitalist regime against the pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong? There’s a consistency and a pattern.”
    I honestly have no idea who you are talking about here Barry. Ive not spoken to heard or read anybody who has taken the side of the Chinese government over that of the democracy advocates.
    As to isolationism well thats always divided the left. As to the left and the right ending up in the same place well I have repeatedly pointed out that the Nazi Party and the German Communist party ended up supporting a Nazi initiated referendum. (The Red Referendum 1931 Prussia)

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    • Steve, I can assure you that a surprising number of my old comrades are not only supportive of the Chinese regime but gung-ho about it. They saw the US/CIA behind the Hong Kong protests and were open, on Facebook etc, in their opposition to the attempts to destablize China. They, like me, embraced a kind of rightwing nationalism back in the mid-1970s and that might explain how and why they now support a rightwing nationalist regime in China. I’m very self-critical (and embarrassed) about that nationalist period but they aren’t.

      I don’t know enough detail about the Red Referndum of 1931 but I do know that the pseudo-left leaders are not only indistinguishable from the far Right but the far Right promotes and shares the analyses by pro-fascists like Pilger and Galloway. I have a cousin who supports the far Right – you know, the Tea Party, Trump, the National Front et al – and he has quoted Pilger at me in order to justify his support for the US and NATO leaving the likes of Putin and Assad in peace. And, it goes without saying, he opposed the Iraq War – the ‘natives’ not ready for democracy, it’s hopeless, they’re not in our backyard, etc etc.

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      • Hi Barry I should have guessed that it was old CPAML comrades.
        Anyhow if you are going to condemn the left for making common ground with the right you should acquaint yourself with the history of the Red Referendum. Its as clear an example of the left and the right working together that I can find. My understanding is that a Nazi front group initiated a referendum to dismiss the social democrat government in Prussia the Communists refused to support it but were instructed to support it by the 3rd International. Upshot was referendum was defeated because the ordinary communist voter could not stomach this sort of nonsense.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1931_Prussian_Landtag_referendum

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  15. Great to see we can produce poems and songs!

    I am not following current events internationally other than pandemic.

    Expecting major hospitals crisis NSW and Victoria for many weeks from sometime next month. Stark description here:

    https://www.ozsage.org/media_releases/nsw-hospital-and-intensive-care-unit-icu-capacity-and-surge-planning-for-the-delta-epidemic-2021/

    Current incapacity to do anything much about that is consistent with the situation since collapse of the international communist movement half a century ago.

    No regrets for having supported liberation of Iraq and complete break with the pro-fascist pseudoleft. But we never did have any impact then and were basically completely isolated and ignored.

    Never did support “war on terror” and am unaware of anybody who seriously thought US goal in Afghanistan was democracy. Started seriously studying Afghanistan immediately after 9/11 and was still “benevolently neutral” when the Northern Alliance took Kabul with US support. Pleasantly surprised that they managed to organize Military Police to prevent repetition of the rape and pillage last time. Naturally opposed the Soviet invasion but never did get sucked in by “Rambo” enthusiasm for “mujahideen”. Closer to RAWA’s position (though not identical).

    Did not think invading Afghanistan could contribute much to draining the swamps. It was just a warm up for invading Iraq that actually did make a real difference. But certainly could not oppose removing the Taliban or expect that the result would be better if US subsequently pulled out.

    Cowardly US retreat started at end of Bush administration and was completed during 8 years of Obama and 4 years of Trump. I have kept some current clippings to review what’s happening right now when I have some time. My assumption, without having read them, is that nothing much happened recently except bloviations in support of the policies of the US foreign policy establishment to not drain swamps. (I haven’t even kept clippings to read later on the celebration of 911 anniversary by saying how stupid it was for Bush and company to try to reverse decades of US idiocy that they are keen to continue. Quick glance showed it was just the same message that has been trumpeted for more than a decade).

    Meanwhile the US is suffering the equivalent of 911 casualties every 3 days from its inability to cope with current pandemic while making loud noises about fascist China, signifying nothing.

    The video of women’s protests confirms the situation there is better now than it was before. I haven’t had time to watch the other videos yet.

    Fred Halliday’s 2005 interview was interesting. Will try to come back to this thread later. Eclipse of communist position left people like Halliday who equate Hitler and Stalin and consider Mao worse seem quite progressive compared with the people he oddly describes as “the left”.

    But honestly if we cannot come up with policies for current pandemic, analysis of history won’t help.

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  16. I have been listening to this on radio. Well worth a listen.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w13xtvl0

    Stunning mafia style part where Karzai meets Biden. Biden says if you stop criticizing the US we with stop telling people that you are corrupt. Karzai refuses, makes a comment about Pakistan at which Biden gets up throws his napkin down and says Pakistan is 50 times more important than Afghanistan, meeting over.

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