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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Afghanistan | International | Anti-War
Myths About Afghanistan
International correspondent Eric Margolis pops 3 myths about Afghanistan.
He is writing for a Canadian audience-- but the myths he describes are widely held in the United States as well.
This is worth reading.
April 2, 2006
Don’t expect to change the Afghanis
By ERIC MARGOLIS / Toronto Sun
As Canadian casualties mount in Afghanistan, it’s important to correct three major falsehoods being promoted by the ill-informed, flag-waving media.
1. “Taliban are terrorists.” In 1989, at the end of Soviet occupation, Afghanistan fell into anarchy, civil war, and crime. Rape was endemic. A village prayer leader, Mullah Omar, armed a group of religious students (talibs). He set about fighting banditry, rape and drug dealing, imposing order based on traditional tribal and religious law.
Taliban were not 9/11-style terrorists, but a religious, anti-Communist movement drawn from the Pushtun tribe.
Most of the Taliban’s energies went to fighting Afghan Communists. Iran, India and Russia openly backed the Communists — rechristened, Northern Alliance.
Most of the so-called “terrorist camps” in Afghanistan were in fact bases used by Muslim volunteers who had come to fight Communists there and in Central Asia.
The Taliban shut down production of opium and heroin. But its backwards leaders proved themselves to be harsh and incompetent. Female education was temporarily banned because Communists had infiltrated the nation in the 1970’s through the school system. The Taliban oppressed minority Hazaras, and blew up Buddhist idols.
But Washington gave millions in aid to the Taliban until four months before 9/11. The U.S. once considered using them and Osama bin Laden’s 300 al-Qaida followers to stir revolt in China’s western Muslim regions, and in Russian-dominated Central Asia. The U.S. cut off aid after the Taliban refused to give a key strategic pipeline deal to a U.S. oil firm.
The Taliban’s leaders knew nothing of 9/11, a plot actually hatched in Germany. When the U.S. demanded bin Laden be handed over, the Taliban refused: He was a guest and national hero, wounded six times in the anti-Soviet struggle. The Taliban offered to send bin Laden to an international tribunal once the U.S. presented evidence of his involvement. Washington refused and invaded, blaming the Taliban for 9/11.
Unable to withstand U.S. power, Mullah Omar ordered his men to blend back into the Pushtun population and wage low-grade guerrilla war against the invaders. Other movements, like Hizbi-Islami, joined in battling foreign occupation. Canada unwisely chose to pick a fight with fierce tribesmen whose only desire is to end foreign occupation and be left alone.
2. “Canada is defending ‘democracy’ in Afghanistan.” This is pure propaganda. The U.S. installed the puppet Karzai regime in Kabul, then held an election even more rigged than the ones run by the Soviets. The U.S. spends hundreds of millions to bribe Afghan warlords, most of whom are up to their turbans in drug dealing. Since the Taliban’s overthrow, opium production is up 90%. The U.S.-NATO ruled narco-state Afghanistan now produces most of the world’s heroin. Karazi’s regime would collapse the moment foreign troops leave.
Besides drug lords, the U.S., Canada and NATO are also in league with resurgent Communists — who, with the Soviets, killed 1.5 million Afghans and tortured tens of thousands. The Uzbeks — now U.S. and Canadian allies — are more vicious and brutal than Taliban, and deeply involved in drug trading.
3. “Canada is defending women’s rights.” Laughable nonsense. The Taliban, demonized by western propaganda, mistreated its females no worse than other Afghans. Women are mistreated across South Asia. In India, brides are burned and people hanged for marrying below their caste. An estimated 10 million female fetuses were aborted in India since 1985, according to the leading medical journal Lancet.
Canadian troops are not social workers and won’t change local customs. Only naive fools think they could. American and Canadian journalists who rushed to Afghanistan see none of this because they stay safely “embedded” with occupation forces. They get the usual cook’s tour and cheery assessments, and are fed PR handouts. Cheerleading for war and flag-waving may sell papers, but it is not responsible journalism.