Afghanistan's notorious Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which was set up by the Taliban to enforce bans on women doing anything from working to wearing nail varnish or laughing out loud, is to be recreated by the Government in Kabul. The decision has provoked an outcry among women and human rights activists who fear a return to the days when religious police patrolled the streets, beating or arresting any woman who was not properly covered by a burka or accompanied by a male relative. re-establish the department, and the measure will go to Afghanistan's parliament when it reconvenes. The conservative complexion of the assembly makes it likely to be passed….Laura Bush took over her husband's weekly radio address in November 2001 to boast that "because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to music and teach their daughters without fear of punishment". Yet almost five years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghan women are far from achieving these aims. There have already been more attacks in the first half of this year than all of last year and according to a UN official, barely a day goes by without a school being burnt or teacher killed. Christina Lamb, Women Back under Wraps with Taliban Vice Squad, The Australian, 7-24-06
Hard Rain Journal 7-26-06: Hard Rain Journal 7-25-06: As the Next Bait and Switch Get Pulled, Remember Osama Bin Laden and the Child Brides of Afghanistan-- Before You Start Something with Shia Extremists, Why Don't You Finish What You Started with the Sunni Extremists?
By Richard Power
There is no way of knowing whether or not a concerted, holistic effort, based on the UN Millennium Goals, and backed up by disciplined, but sustained military power, would have made a profound difference in Afghanistan, but the results certainly could not have been any worse than what has been produced after the US misdirected its attention, will and resources to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and probably would have been significantly better.
Five years after 911, Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and Mulla Omar remain alive and at large, and their organizations, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, are both resurgent and on the attack.
"Today, al-Qaida has not only regrouped, but it is on the march," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp. "Al-Qaida is now functioning exactly as its founder and leader, Osama bin Laden, envisioned it.” "Today, al-Qaida is also frequently spoken of as it if is in retreat: a broken and beaten organization incapable of mounting further attacks on its own and instead having devolved operational authority either to its carious affiliates and associated or to entirely organically produced, homegrown, terrorist entities. Nothing could be further from the truth," Hoffman told the committee. The Afghan attack "pulverized" al-Qaida, Hoffman told United Press International Wednesday….In the ensuing four years since the attack, the organization has evolved into what bin Laden set out to create: a fractured, worldwide movement inspired by bin Laden and united by a single vision, as well as a central organization that continues to direct the implementation of terrorist attacks. PAMELA HESS, Al-Qaida regrouping, on the march, UPI, 7-19-06
Five years after Western countries promised Afghans to rebuild their country, Afghanistan is on the brink, facing its worst crisis since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001….Ordinary Afghans have no doubt that the Taliban virus is spreading. Taliban have been reported just 25 miles from the capital, distributing at night written death threats to those who help the government....Karzai is now seen by many Afghans and Western diplomats as betraying the reform and nation building agenda set out by the Bonn agreement in 2001 and reverting back to rule by fiat on tribal and ethnic lines….It is clear that the slow delivery of Western aid has wrecked the political will in the government, demoralized Afghans and given fuel to Taliban propaganda. Predicted one European ambassador: "The next few months will be critical."
Ahmed Rashid, AFGHANISTAN AND ITS FUTURE, Eurasianet, 6/26/06
For most of the last five years, the misdirected focus of the US political establishment has been on US-UK led military adventure in Iraq, which no sane person could deny has failed, and only brought greater instability to the region. Now the US political establishment has fixed its misdirected attention on the seemingly sudden eruption of conflict between Israel and Hezbollah that has so savagely disrupted the Lebanese healing process, and threatens to further destablize the region.
Neither Saddam Hussein's Iraq, nor the Hezbollah had any role in 911 or in subsequent terrorist attacks in Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, Jakarta, Madrid, London, Amman or Mumbai (in either 2003 and 2006).
As brutal and criminal as it was, Saddam Hussein's regime was a secular state, and a sworn enemy of both Shia and Sunni religious extremists. But in the aftermath of 911, the so-called "Neo-Conservatives" (although Corporatists or Neo-Totalitarians would be more accurate terms) pulled a bait and switch, i.e., Iraq for Afghanistan, with the complicity of the US mainstream news media and much of the Democratic Party leadership.
Now, another crude bait and switch is being pulled off, i.e., Iran/Syria/Hezbollah for Iraq, and again it is being done with the complicity of the US mainstream news media and much of the Democratic Party leadership.
Those who attacked the US on 911, and who inspired the subsequent attacks in Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, Jakarta, Madrid, London, Amman or Mumbai (in either 2003 and 2006) were and are even now aided and abbetted, shielded and given succour in Saudia Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Sunni countries, not in Iran or Syria or southern Lebanon.
The Bush-Cheney cabal's military adventurism in Iraq, has strengthend the strategic position of Iran, by freeing and mobilizing the Shia masses in southern Iraq, and at the same time, played directly into the hands of Osama Bin Laden by launching a pre-emptive war to seize a soverign country, and engaging in torture and atrocities in the ensuing occupation.
None of it makes any sense, unless of course you come to grips with the fact that military action against Iraq and Iran were the goals from the beginning (as documented by the PNAC plan), and that killing Bin Laden and crushing Al Qaeda are simply not a high priorty for Bush-Cheney (they certainly weren't a priority for them before 911). Indeed, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have proved very useful as the fallback bogey men in the ongoing manipulation of the US electorate.
Worthy but underfunded programs pursue realization of the Millennium Goals (in particular #2 Achieve universal primary education and #3 Promote gender equality and empower women) in Afghanistan, e.g.:
The Swiss foreign ministry says it has earmarked about SFr1.3 million ($1.05 million) to recruit hundreds of women for Afghanistan's police force. Run by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is part of a larger project to restore law and order in the country....The aim is to train a professional corps loyal to the government and "widely visible to the public, creating a sense of comfort among the population". Currently there are around 200 women serving in the Afghan police force. Female personnel receive the same salary as their male counterparts. The training programme teaches recruits about women's rights and constitutional and international conventions related to human rights. Swiss push gender equality among Afghan police, Swiss Info, 7-21-06
In December 2004 [Polish Humanitarian Organization] PHO launched second, extended edition of artistic and vocational courses for children. The project involves cultural diversity workshop, courses of traditional Afghan music, arts, calligraphy, learning about multicultural world and human rights as well as vocational trainings, for instance hairdressing. It concerns two orphanages from Kabul...135 children will take part in mentioned activities throughout the year 2006...PHO activity in Afghanistan will enhance. The new projects aim not only in education sector but also in water and sanitation. PHO helps in reconstruction of Afghanistan, Reuters Alternet, 7-21-06
Think of what the ongoing occupation of Iraq is costing the US? Billions of dollars a month wasted on chaos and anarchy, with no end in sight. What could that money have bought in Afghanistan?
Now it is probably too late.
In "Bring Me the Head of Osama Bin Laden," I wrote: As of March 31, 2006, the US has suffered at least 2326 military fatalities in Iraq (http://icasualties.org/oif/). If 2326 US military personnel had died in a successful manhunt for Bin Laden in Tora Bora, would the US populace have deemed it worth the terrible sacrifice? Yes, unhesitatingly. If an unsuccessful attempt to kill or capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora had resulted in 2326 US military deaths, would the US populace have accepted the losses? Yes, unflinchingly. Because it would have understood what those young men and women sacrificed their lives for, i.e., to vanquish the perpetrators of 9/11.
Would terrorism have ended if Bin Laden had been killed or captured? No, but Al Qaeda would have been weakened, psychologically. There would have been less terrorism in the ensuing years, and less innocent people would have died. A strong leader, a real leader, would have known this…
It is as true today as it was three months ago, after hundreds of more US military deaths in Iraq.
Take a look at a recent New York Times photo essay on "Child Brides" in Afghanistan (NYT Magazine, 7-9-06).
The thousands of US soldiers and billions of US dollars squandered in Iraq would have been better spent capturing or killing Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Mullah Omar and crushing Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And in the process, with years of patient and enlightened humanitarian work, the US and its allies in the West could have also achieved the liberation of those little girls as well.
But just as Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda wasn't really the highest priority of Bush-Cheney before or after 911, the liberation of women and young girls from violence and abuse wasn't really a high priority either.
Hard Rain Journal 7-19-06: Neo-Con Fingerprints on the Israeli Offensive in Lebanon, Meanwhile in Afghanistan...
Hard Rain Journal 7-17-06: Middle East Update -- Voices of Reason From Within The Whirlwind
Hard Rain Journal 6-15-06: Foreign Affairs survey of 100 US policy leaders grades Bush-Cheney "failed" at 1.8 out of 10
Hard Rain Journal 6-14-06: Wrongly Premised “War on Terrorism” has Increased Danger from Terrorism, and Ignored Greater Risks
Words of Power #23: A Reality Check, What A Real World War on Terrorism Would Look Like, and a US Mid-Term Election Strategy
Words of Power #21: Judith Miller, Ken Lay, Florida, 9/11 and The Return of The Forbidden Truths?
Words of Power #15: Bring Me the Head of Osama, Nero Fiddles while the Planet Burns, Religion as the Crystal Meth of the People, & The Democrats' Plan
GS3 Intelligence Special Supplement (2-4-06): Iran, Hamas, Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Geopolitical Hegemony, The Great Game & Danish Cartoons
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Robert Dreyfus, Israel, Lebanon, Bush, Cheney, Hezbollah, Geopolitics, Middle East, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Taliban, Terrorism, PNAC, Project for New American Century, Poland, Switzerland, UN Millennium Goals, Human Rights