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October 7, 2010

Afghanistan - Malalai Joya has a dream

Reuel S. Amdur

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Malalai Joya, speaking in Ottawa on October 5, once again made her position abundantly clear.

She opposes the Karzai government (a puppet of the United States in power through a rigged election), its warlord and drug lord participants, the Taliban, and the occupation. 

During her talk she rattled off name after name of these warlords and drug lords, as well as Taliban-linked participants in the government.  Unfortunately, I was unable to catch them, a combination of my unfamiliarity, her accent, and my hearing loss.

She opposes the US-NATO occupation, pointing out that they have used the Taliban for their own purposes. 

They are concerned, they say, about the welfare of women, but they supported the Taliban, whose subjugation of women is well known.  They support the Karzai government, which also enacts misogynist policies.  The reason that these foreign forces working for the Americans are there is, according to Joya, twofold: to exploit the country’s mineral wealth and to take advantage of its geopolitical position to give them a foothold into the region, with an eye on the “-stans”. 

Well, that is what she opposes.  So what is she for? 

She reminded the audience that they had thrown out invaders throughout their history, most recently the Russians, so the US-NATO invaders will also be thrown out, even if they do not leave as scheduled. 

Unfortunately, there is an air of unreality about what she proposes.  The Russians were driven out when US support of the Taliban tipped the balance between them and the warlords.  The geopolitics of which she speaks led to the ouster of the Russians, not democratic resistance of the Afghan people, even if their resistance may have played a part.

Her position is truly noble, but it may be a noble dream. 

When asked about the reality of this democratic people force in which she places her hopes, she spoke of Afghan student demonstrations against Iranian repression of opposition, as well as similar demonstrations against Afghan government policies.  And she displayed photographs of defaced election posters for warlords and flunkeys for the rich and powerful.  In short, a mighty thin reed on which to lean.

On a personal note, I think back to the days of the Cold War. 

There were those of us who called for opposition to “both war camps.”  We saw hope in the 1956 uprising in Hungary, for example, where the last holdouts against the Russians were in the Budapest factories which were historically the hotbed of Communist and Socialist union activists.  What a bright future once freedom was achieved! 

Then, there was the growing dissent in East Germany, led by idealistic intellectuals.  But then we were gob-struck by reality.  When the Berlin Wall fell and elections were held, the idealists were swept aside, as the East Germans voted for the Christian Democrats.  And Hungary is now in the hands of a right-wing government, with a growing racist movement nipping at its heals.

Unfortunately, while dreams are essential, they are not always fulfilled, and it is likely that hers will be among those not.  Having said that, what should we do–support continuation of the occupation? No.

She is absolutely right in wanting foreign exploiters and schemers out.  She should have the chance to see if her dream can be achieved.  However, once the foreigners leave, it is unlikely that the US puppets can hold on.  The most likely scenario is fragmentation, with local warlords and Taliban struggling for turf. In short, it is a scenario which, except for the presence of foreign troops and the existence of the Karzai government in control of Kabul, is not very different from what exists now.

It is not a prospect that bodes well for Afghans, especially women. Her dream? Perhaps someday, but it appears that things might well get worse before it can get any better.  There is nothing much we can do about this.

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