KNOW YOUR ENEMY?
Q. & A. About Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the CIA
by J. Sakai & Butch Lee
Q. I heard President Bush say that after the World Trade Towers
massacre, America must support a new "crusade" to wipe out Islamic terrorism
A. Millions of people in the Muslim world were stunned at his
choice of words. Since the original "crusades" were the mass invasions of
the Middle East by feudal European armies bent on looting, slaughter and colonial
conquest (all in god's name, of course). It would be like the Mayor of New
York City announcing that to fight drugs New Yorkers had to support a new
"lynching". Maybe Bush was truthful there, for once.
Q. But isn't this a war of modern Western democracies vs. Islamic
fundamentalist terrorism, one that's so backward it's oppressing women and
generally trying to force everyone to live in some tribal or feudal society?
A. That's what the corporate media, the politicians and the
Pentagon all say. What's remarkable about the picture they draw is that none
of it is true.
This is a war between Western multinational capitalism,
led by the u.s.a., against a pan-Islamic fascist movement that is not only
capitalist itself but is as modern as the cell phone. The key word here isn't
"islamic", it's "fascist". The wonderful u.s. multinational alliance includes
almost all the brutal dictatorships in the world--and is generating new waves
of racism right here--so we can bet this war isn't about democracy. On either
Q. How can the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden be modern? Don't they
want everyone to go back to some like tribal life ruled by religion?
A. The Taliban rule over a very poor, isolated, war-torn
country, and their religious officials and soldiers are certainly uneducated
in Western terms. But that doesn't keep them as an organization from being
modern. Afghanistan as a society is backward, but the Taliban as a political
operation is modern. They were created out of the Pakistan refugee camps by
the c.i.a.during the 1980s, for the war against the Russians in Afghanistan.
And you can't get too much more modern than that. The Taliban's class politics
and social program are completely alien to traditional Afghan society.
Take the single most notorious part
of their government---the forced removal of women from jobs, education and
public life. Where women are not even supposed to move about the streets or
go to public events, even when wearing the all-enveloping clothing to hide
their face and body. Many women were beaten, terrorized and even in some
cases killed by the Taliban's roving men's patrols in order to convince them
to stay in what amounts to mass house arrest.
There is no precedent for this in traditional
Afghan culture, sexist as it was and is. In the traditional rural village
life (and 80% of the population was rural) women were not supposed to show
themselves barefaced to men outside their family. But in isolated agricultural
communities, where everyone was often part of the same extended clan, women
worked side by side with men outside daily and could go for months without
seeing a stranger. In the cities, as a practical matter, this rule was largely
ignored. Nothing like what's going down now for women under fascist rule.
And that's an oppression "Made in the USA".
Q. Wait a minute, you're saying that the c.i.a. and the u.s. government
is responsible for the Taliban?
A. That's actually very well known. We have to go back
a moment to the Afghan civil war, since that's where all the players here---the
c.i.a. & u.s. government, the Islamic right-wing, and Osama Bin Laden
himself---got together. We also have to make the distinction between the Islamic
political right and the fascist movements that come out of it.
Just like ultra-orthodox Judaism and fundamentalist
Christianity, in early Islam there was a unity of religious and civil authority
(much of Islam's religious teachings, again like Judaism's, concern how to
live daily life---marital relations, business dealings, law & order, public
health, etc). The Roamin' Catholic Church, we should recall, once had armies,
ships, vast plantations and slaves, and still has the unique international
diplomatic status of a nation-state (and befriends abortion clinic bombers,
speaking of terrorism).
What we often call "Islamic fundamentalism" has
been around at least since 1928, when Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was founded.
A belief in the strict teachings of the Koran has existed within Islam since
the desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula in the 7th century A.D., of course.
But the modern political movement to answer the social ills of a Muslim world
under Western colonial domination by going back to a society organized according
to conservative religious teachings began as an middle-class anti-colonial
movement. Led by conservative clerics, educated young men and local merchants,
it was opposed to British capitalism's control over the Egyptian royal government
and economy. As well as the corruption of Muslim society that they blamed
on Western cultural influence.
Their answer was to return society to the original
laws & governing of the Koran. The Prophet Mohammed's immediate successors
ruled the larger Muslim world using the title of Caliph. Right-wing Islamic
movements often call for a return to a united Muslim world ruled by a supreme
religious leader as Caliph (one Turkish right-wing organization even is called
"The Caliphate State"). This right- wing internationalism gets considerably
diluted once these capitalistic men get close to power, of course. The Taliban,
which owes much to the fellow Islamic state of Pakistan, promptly refused
a request to sign a border treaty once they took state power. In fact, the
Taliban have taken up former Afghan royal government claims to a slice of
territory also claimed by Pakistan.
The Muslim Brotherhood in the 1930s and 1940s founded
its own religious ideological schools, organized cells, and started harassing
and demonstrating against the British occupation with the quiet consent of
the monarchy. Taking the logical next step by dealing with those Muslims who
were judged to be collaborators, they started assassinating Egyptian officials,
including the police chief (killed by a thrown bomb while policing a student
demonstration) and the prime minister. Under the later nationalist anti-colonial
military regime of Gen. Gamel Nasser, the Muslim Brotherhood was outlawed
and hunted down during the 1950-60s. Thousands of rightists were imprisoned,
killed or forced into an exile where they helped spark new groups in other
Now the Islamic right has a mass following throughout
the world, since it feeds on the neocolonial poverty, corruption, and hopelessness
of pro- Western regimes. Organized into hundreds of different parties, organizations,
religious schools, aid societies, charitable funds and armed groups, the Islamic
right has also had the advantage of being supported at critical moments by
capitalist governments wanting to divert mass sympathy for anti-capitalism.
When Egyptian ruler Gen. Anwar Sadat was preparing
to make detente with Israel and the West, he emptied the prisons of rightists
and revived the Muslim Brotherhood as a more moderate organization, still
popular but one which had agreed to divert its more directly revolutionary
activities abroad ( it's office near the Afghan border was a center for Osama
Bin Laden and the streams of other Muslim men coming to join the c.i.a.'s
jihad ). And during their long anti-guerrilla war with the leftist P.L.O.,
the Israeli security forces covertly encouraged the growth of right- wing
alternatives like Hamas ( which popularized the suicide car bombers in the
early 1980s) in order to undermine the more politically dangerous left.
Just as we have seen armed neo-fascists grow out
of the fertile soil of the Christian Right and the anti-abortion movement
here in the u.s., the larger Islamic Right has been the recruiting ground
for a new pan-Islamic fascist movement. There are many different organizations
in addition to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda ( "the Military Base" )---such as
Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, which has been conducting a bloody terrorist
war with the ruling military junta since the army overruled the 1992 election
victory of the conservative Islamic opposition party.
It was in Afghanistan, however, that "the largest
covert operation" in c.i.a. history implemented the bold strategy of making
pan-Islamic fascism into a world force. From April 1978, when the pro-Russian
Peoples Democratic Party took over the central government in Kabul in a military
coup, the NATO powers began to arm and train the conservative rebels, criminal
groups and warlords who were waging a traditional guerrilla war against the
government ( armed clashes, coups and rebellions are the normal medium of
Afghan politics). In December 1979 the first units of Russian troops began
By February 1980, when a Washington Post report
noted the buildup of u.s. involvement, the c.i.a. was pouring funds and weapons
into a new shadow army of tens of thousands of full-time soldiers that would
be largely recruited out of the swelling refugee camps, ideologically trained
in the hundreds of new c.i.a.-financed right-wing madrassa (live-in religious
schools for boys, that were the only source of education for children of the
camps and most poor Pakistani familes) and managed by their allies, the Pakistan
military's ISI (Inter-Service Intelligence).
But in an important secret policy decision, the u.s.government
decided to internationalize the conflict: the new goal would be to create
a new global Islamic jihad that would invade not only Afghanistan but the
Islamic regions of the former U.S.S.R. and break up America's main Communist
enemy into chaos. And that is where Osama Bin Laden comes in.
Q. I've read in the newspapers how he was a volunteer and
joined the mujaheddin. Was there something more, like was he a c.i.a. agent?
A. Not surprisingly, Bin Laden has explicitly denied
ever being involved with the c.i.a. Or directly receiving military training
from them or any Americans (not too meaningful, since the military training
was largely done by the Pakistani military and mercenaries). This may well
be true, but he was not a simple rich kid volunteer but rather someone who
was selected and approved to play a major leadership role in this covert
operation by the c.i.a. and its Muslim allies. This may be why the Saudi
government is rumored to have been pressuring the Taliban for years to not
turn over Bin Laden for u.s. trial, but to either execute him or keep him
isolated in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Rashid of Pakistan is a member of the International
Consortium of Investigative Journalists (a project of the Center for Public
Integrity). For many years he has been the Afghanistan correspondent for the
Far Eastern Economic Review and The Daily Telegraph of London. As he wrote
in his book on the Taliban:
In 1986, CIA chief William Casey had stepped up the war against
the Soviet Union by taking three significant, but at that time highly secret,
To bottom line this: Osama Bin Laden went to Afghanistan
as a government designated leader in Saudi efforts within the c.i.a. jihad,
where his important role soon made him a highly visible figure to other Muslim
militants. In 1989 he set up his organization, al-Qaeda ( "the Military Base"),
as a help center for Muslims who had fought with the mujaheddin and their
families. After he broke with the Saudi royal family in 1992 and "went rogue"
he began enlisting veterans and other recruits in a new jihad against the
He had persuaded the US Congress to provide the Mujaheddin with American-made
Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down Soviet planes and provide US
advisers to train the guerrillas. Until then, no US-made weapons or personnel
had been used directly in the war effort.
The CIA, Britain's MI6 and the ISI [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence]
also agreed on a provocative plan to launch guerrilla attacks into the Soviet
Socialist Republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the soft Muslim underbelly
of the Soviet state from where Soviet troops in Afghanistan received their
supplies. The task was given to the ISI's favourite Mujaheddin leader, Gulbuddin
Hikmetyar. In March 1987, small units crossed the Amu Darya river from bases
in northern Afghanistan and launched their first rocket attacks against villages
in Tajikistan. Casey was delighted with the news, and on his next secret trip
to Pakistan he crossed the border into Afghanistan with [the late Pakistani]
President Zia [ul- Haq] to review the Mujaheddin groups.
Thirdly, Casey committed CIA support to a long-standing ISI initiative to
recruit radical Muslims from around the world to come to Pakistan and fight
with the Afghan Mujaheddin. The ISI had encouraged this since 1982, and by
now all the other players had their reasons for supporting the idea....
. . . Between 1982 and 1992, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic
countries in the Middle East, North and East Africa, Central Asia and the
Far East would pass their baptism under fire with the Afghan Mujaheddin. Tens
of thousands more foreign Muslim radicals came to study in the hundreds of
new madrassas that Zia's military government began to fund in Pakistan and
along the Afghan border. Eventually more than 100,000 Muslim radicals were
to have direct contact with Pakistan and Afghanistan and be influenced by
In camps near Peshawar and in Afghanistan, these radicals met each other
for the first time and studied, trained and fought together. It was the first
opportunity for most of them to learn about Islamic movements in other countries,
and they forged tactical and ideological links that would serve them well
in the future. The camps became virtual universities for future Islamic radicalism.
None of the intelligence agencies involved wanted to consider the consequences
of bringing together thousands of Islamic radicals from all over the world.
'What was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the
fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central
Europe and the end of the Cold War?' said Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former US
National Security Adviser. American citizens woke up to the consequences only
when Afghanistan-trained islamic militants blew up the World Trade Center
in New York in 1993, killing six people and injuring 1,000...
Among these thousands of foreign recruits was a young Saudi student, Osama
Bin Laden, the son of a Yemeni construction magnate, Mohammed Bin Laden, who
was a close friend of the late King Faisal and whose company had become fabulously
wealthy on the contracts to renovate and expand the Holy Mosques of Mecca
and Medina. The ISI had long wanted Prince Turki Bin Faisal, the head of
Istakhbarat, the Saudi Intelligence Service, to provide a Royal Prince to
lead the Saudi contingent in order to show Muslims the commitment of the Royal
Family to the jihad. Only poorer Saudis, students, taxi drivers and Bedouin
tribesmen had so far arrived to fight. But no pampered Saudi prince was ready
to rough it out in the Afghan mountains. Bin Laden, although not a royal,
was close enough to the royals and certainly wealthy enough to lead the Saudi
contingent. Bin Laden, Prince Turki... were to become firm friends and allies
in a common cause...
He first traveled to Peshawar in 1980 and met the Mujaheddin leaders, returning
frequently with Saudi donations for the cause until 1982, when he decided
to settle in Peshawar. He brought in his company engineers and heavy construction
equipment to help build roads and depots for the Mujaheddin. In 1986, he helped
build the Khost tunnel complex, which the CIA was funding as a major arms
storage depot, training facility and medical center for the Mujaheddin, deep
under the mountains close to the Pakistan border. For the first time in Khost
he set up his own training camp for Arab Afghans, who now increasingly saw
this lanky, wealthy and charismatic Saudi as their leader.
In August 1996, from his new home in Afghanistan
where he had moved his three wives and 13 children, he issued his first declaration
of war against America, whom he accused of subverting the Saudi royal government
and profaning the especially sacred land of the Arabian peninsula with the
continued occupation by infidel u.s. soldiers : "The walls of oppression and
humiliation cannot be demolished except in a rain of bullets." You
know the rest.
Q. But even if the c.i.a. was involved, why do you call the Taliban
or Bin Laden "fascist"? Isn't it obviously more of a religious
A. It's in character for fascist movements, which are
vicious cutting edge products of modern capitalism, to clothe themselves in
some imagined glorious past. The first fascist state, that of Italy's Mussolini,
called itself a nationalist recreation of the ancient Roman Empire. Germany's
Nazi movement called itself the rebirth of the warrior Aryan race (which
never had existed in real life). Of course, Italian and Germany fascists believed
all that, just as the Taliban's clergy and soldier cadre believe in their
cooked- up religious ideology. By "fascist" we don't just mean repressive
or undemocratic, although they're obviously that (Note: this discussion has
been influenced by a new theoretical paper, Don Hamerquist's Fascism &
Anti-Fascism, which we urge everyone interested in this subject to check
out). Fascism is a very specific type of political rule. When normal capitalist
society goes into severe crisis, one where the oppressed are in rebellion
or there is unmanageable class conflicts and the state is unable to function,
there is both a need and a vacuum for new mass forces to enter the political
One thing we should remember is that there are
other people than just the wealthiest capitalists who have an interest in
saving capitalism. Fascism organizes masses of such lower-middle class
and declassed men to seize the state power and violently reorganize society.
This revolution from the radical Right happens with the consent and help of
world capitalism even though they may have state power ripped from their own
hands. That is, the big corporate capitalism benefits from fascism but it
does not rule during this interlude.
This isn't hard to picture. In the struggle to
prevent liberation from below, new masses of men enter to take up arms for
restabilizing basic capitalism. The old discredited state, thick with corruption
and ineptitude, is overthrown. The old failed order is destroyed and many
are killed as a chilling example. "Peace" is restored by overwhelming violence,
and society is forcibly reorganized to remove dissident or alien elements
who are blamed for past injustices. And a new capitalist economy is cobbled
together that seems to reward the new society (as German fascism seemed for
years to bring new successes to their newly Aryanized nation).
This fascism has definite characteristics, whether
in Nazi Germany or the Taliban's Afghanistan or the u.s. Aryan Brotherhood:
It taps into and is filled with genuine anti-bourgeois anger and sentiments
in distorted form. There is a supreme leader over a sharply hierarchical state.
It exults in the violent military experience that is said to be "natural"
for men, while scorning the soft cowardly life of the bourgeois intellectuals
and officials and moneylenders. Along with that it restricts women to the
margins of an essentially male society. While usual classes even under
capitalism are engaged in economic production and distribution, fascism develops
a criminal economy more focused on war, looting and enslavement.
Looking at the Taliban's actual record reveals
much in unity with this fascist pattern, but little that is spiritual. Like
their fellow Serbian fascists, the Taliban have conducted ethnic cleansing
campaigns, terrorizing thousands of Afghans from the minority Tajik, Hazara,
Uzbek and other peoples. Their apparent goal is to minimize all other peoples
besides the Pashtun in Afghanistan, making for a monoethnic society. Even
those who seem to pose no threat aren't safe. Sikhs, who were a small number
of traders and craftsmen whose families had emigrated from India, were singled
out for harassment somewhat like Jews in Europe. Ajit Singh, a refugee from
Jalalabad, recounted: "They told us what to do, they forced us to wear yellow
turbans, they made nasty remarks at our families, our children. Life there
Q. So what do you mean about the Taliban, for instance, their
economy being different?
A. The Taliban state is fairly uninterested in normal
production and distribution, the growing of grain, getting medicine to sick
children, making shoes and fixing of sewers type of thing. The Taliban actually
lives in the trance state of a different economy.
First off, they really fit the stripped down old
left definition of what a state is---"a special body of armed men".
A significant part of their income has come from taxing or even taking part
in the drug trade that the mujaheddin first started in the 1980s under c.i.a.
supervision (even though the Taliban, in an effort to win international support,
banned poppy growing last year, due to their large stockpiles opium traffic
across the border has never faltered). Afghan "freedom fighters" raised
Afghanistan's share of the world heroin supply from zero in 1979 to 60- 75%
now by u.s. government and UN statistics. In mujaheddin controlled areas peasants
were ordered at gunpoint to shift to poppy cultivation. This is actually
only part of their major economic preoccupation.
The Taliban has always been financially supported
by---and is interlocked with classwise---the large Pakistani transport companies
and smuggling mafias. That is, the Taliban leaders are local bourgeoisie themselves,
but of a special kind. Because of its central location and long borders in
rough terrain, Afghanistan has always been a hub where commercial traffic
goes from Pakistan and its ports across the borders into Iran and up into
the former U.S.S.R. ( via Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan ). And
back. We're talking about many hundreds of trucks a day loaded with televisions,
computers, silk clothing, food, diesel fuel, rifles, drugs. All smuggled,
and usually on stolen trucks. Again, a corrosive trade worth billions of
dollars a year.
The transporters are certainly businessmen, but
what we'd call small local capitalists. They don't care too much for the multinational
corporations and the WTO, for obvious reasons. What they do care about is
having a stable corrupt police over Afghanistan's highways. During the free-for-all
period right after the pro-Russian Kabul government fell in 1992 and before
the Taliban took over in 1995-96, each local warlord and his gunmen set up
roadblocks. A long truck convoy might be "taxed" dozens of times. After the
Russian military occupation collapsed in 1989, the various mujaheddin warlord
armies continued tearing the country up in intensified warfare against each
other and the besieged Kabul regime. The c.i.a.'s (and Osama Bin Laden's)
favorite commander, the notorious Gulbuddin Hikmetyar (respected as very
pious for having had acid thrown into the faces of women who didn't wear
veils) led the "brotherly" attack against the first mujaheddin coalition
government in Kabul in 1992, killing some 10,000 civilians in over a year
of internecine shelling. Violent chaos is bad for real crime.
So the Pakistani smuggling mafias started not only
backing the Taliban financially and politically, but giving them shares in
the syndicates and helping the various leaders buy trucks for their families
and followers to join the business. The Taliban (Òthe StudentsÓ
), a new movement of Pushtun nationalist supremacy of students out of the
right-wing madrassas in Pakistan (many as young as 14 or 15), led thousands
of fresh but inexperienced fighters in a new jihad to unify all the armies
and end the fighting. Like a miracle, the Taliban marched on the capital and
beyond, sweeping armies before them by the simple expedient of buying the
loyalty of warlord commanders with cash supplied by their backers. Their forces
swelled as they incorporated old warlord forces into their new army of Pushtun
unity, as well as being joined by some 20,000 enthusiastic new recruits from
the refugee camps in Pakistan. This is the clerical fascist regime that came
to rule Afghanistan.
Ahmed Rashid comments: "After taking the
capital, the Taliban levied an average of 6000 rupees (US$150) for a truck
traveling from Peshawar to Kabel, compared to the 30,000-50,000 rupees, which
truckers paid before." The Pakistan Central Board of Revenue estimated
that this illegal smuggling trade cost the poor country at least US$600 million
in 1997/98 just in lost customs duties alone. Entire local industries went
into depression because of the sales of smuggled "brand name" products from
Japan and the West.
In class terms the Taliban maintain a ruthlessly
thriving capitalism, but as a fascist niche ruling class that doesn't feel
that it needs NATO or the World Bank and cares nothing for their fate. There
is wide-spread class antagonism towards Western imperialism among Muslim
local capitalists and mafias in many countries, who see no advantage to their
own class in having the big multinational corporations take over even the
small corners of the Third World. And modern society in the Muslim world keeps
turning out large numbers of declassed, educated young men who have no prospects
in their poverty-stricken countries. The c.i.a. was surprised at the World
Trade attack, since their "terrorist suicide bomber" profile predicted 19
year old men who were illiterate and poor while the actual hijackers were
educated, multilingual and older. But two days before the attack, Egypt's
president Mubarek warned of "an explosion outside the region" if the
u.s. did not change its Middle East policies. Not everybody was surprised.
Q. So what do these Islamic fascists want? Would a better u.s.
foreign policy prevent more mass terrorist attacks here in America?
A. In your dreams! All of a sudden, we are hearing this
"be nice" foreign policy line being urged. In a nationwide address recently
on the crisis, Minister Louis Farrakhan advised America: "A better foreign
policy would defeat terrorism forever in the world...Ó (perhaps Farrakhan
was referring to his own little foreign policy, where he got paid for publicly
supporting the Sudanese islamic dictatorshipÕs genocidal war against
Black Afrikan Sudanese).
Many voices are playing into this self-pitying
American self-absorption about their own safety, sometimes to the point of
the delusional. Respected academic Noam Chomsky has written that the Trade
was a "horrendous crime...The primary victims, as usual, were working people:
janitors, secretaries, firemen..." No, the primarily victims were stockbrokers
and executives and computer softwear designers ---an analysis of the first
2100 victims showed that they were 80% male, average age of forty, mostly
white-collar professionals and executives from the banking, stock market,
and computer industries ( it was the World Trade Center, not an ordinary
office building, you know). And mostly white (as were the firemen from the
overwhelming white apartheid FDNY, since elite blue-collar jobs are
usually reserved for white men). It doesn't make the pure human tragedy any
less, but these are the very people who could care less then or now about
the suffering and tragedy of the women of Afghanistan. As the Sixties saying
said, "What goes around comes around."
That's why more than a few people in the world have conflicted feelings about
what happened. The World Trade Center, the tallest buildings in America, was
built to be the active nerve center and symbol of White America's financial
power over the human race. The builders even said something like that. A
financial equivalent to the military's Pentagon. If this stands for a supercapitalism
that has guided and arranged the impoverishment, mass killings, bombings,
torture and repression all over the world (with complaisant u.s. public approval
and indifference), is it so surprising that many said "It's time they got
some of what they inflict on others!"?
Perhaps the conflicted feelings are most sharply
evident in the Black community. Eyebrows were raised at a recent Gallop poll
where 71% of Black people polled favored special more intense security checks
for Arab Americans at airports. At the grassroots, the Black Nation is very
pro law & order (most are for the death penalty, stop-and-frisk, harsher
sentencing, the whole nine yards). Understandable for people who bear the
brunt of the mass violent crime and addiction that capitalism creates. At
the same time, more than a few felt that what happened was an inevitable
lesson for White America. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell recently
repeated what a caller told her. This Black woman said that "while she felt
compassion for the suffering families, she didn't feel that the attack had
anything to do with her.
"It was like I wanted to say, 'I told you so'", she said.
"Now they want us to unite, but so many things happened to me growing up
in the South. I can't seem to feel like it is my problem. I think a lot of
us feel like that.' " Complex feelings for a complex situation, because it's
not the simple tragedy that the capitalist media has been promoting.
And as for what the Islamic fascists want, it's
very simple---they want Western imperialism out of the Muslim world so that
they can take over. No troops in Saudi bases, no F-16s for Israel, no air
raids on Arab capitols, no Hollywood movies or "Coca-Colonization". They want
the corrupt neo- colonial Arab regimes abandoned by the West, just like the
Russian army had to abandon the dictatorial Najibullah regime in Afghanistan,
so that the Islamic fascists can stage lumpen-capitalist revolutions and take
state power themselves. Of course, that's something multinational capitalism
could live with here and there, eventually making peace just like it's gradually
doing with Iran.
As for not having terrorist attacks in the u.s.,
the genie is way out of the bottle. Who would have thought some years ago
that a Jewish day care center for four year-olds in Los Angeles would get
shot up? Nope, the decaying capitalist world has gone postal. We all know
it, too. The question is what will replace the old world?
Q. What do you think of this coming war?
A. Obviously, there's lots we ordinary people don't
know and lots that will surprise us. I don't think this war is inevitably
going to be what people fear or expect. The Wall Street Journal has already
reported only a few weeks after 911 that the u.s. military expects a short,
non-Vietnam type war in Afghanistan. Since they believe that the Taliban
can be toppled by simply buying the allegince of many warlords just as the
Taliban did to get in. Sure the u.s. government will go after al-Qaeda, try
to make an example of them. Which may work or not. But this fight with pan-Islamic
fascism is a family feud within capitalism, after all. Western imperialism
is more accustomed to covertly allying with or tolerating these terrorist
groups (like the c.i.a. and it's u.s. proteges "Omega 7" and "Jewish Defense
League", who were killing people in bombings while being protected by Washington).
Don't be surprised to find out later that Washington has made secret deals
with various Islamic fascisms.
One thing is really important. The clash between
these conflicting capitalistic forces---each of whom has a track record of
slaughtering people like you'd light up a cigarette---underlines how essential
it is that we fight for liberated space for everyone, mentally and physically.
I say this because there's a lot of hypocrisy going
around about the women of Afghanistan. Everyone's pretending to be oh so sympathetic,and
even the u.s. State department has a web site opposing sexism by the Taliban.
But Western imperialism did the deed, knowingly. It was a cold fuck.
Right after the pro-Russian takeover in 1978, the new government tried to
enact a modernizing program to win popular support. It ended debt slavery
and usury by the big landowners, which angered the conservative mullahs (some
of whom were rich landlords). It started building hundreds of schools and
clinics in the rural areas. But then, trying to follow the Russian formula
for somehow manufacturing "East Germany in the desert", the Kabul military
regime started passing laws in 1978 freeing women. They banned child marriage
as well as the practice of selling girl-children. Girls were to be admitted
to schools as well as boys. Women would have the right of deciding whom to
marry, and perhaps even the right of divorce.
Tactically speaking, from their point of view,
that was a fatal error. That was the sparking point for the large-scale guerrilla
rebellion against the Kabul regime. The mullahs and landlords now had an issue
that even the poorest man could be swayed by---his power to own women was
being taken away! And the c.i.a. and the Western capitalist powers jumped
right in on the bandwagon, knowing and not caring that millions of Afghan
women would pay the heavy price.
Robert Fisk, a journalist who was in Afghanistan
with the London Times, remarks on this covert policy against Afghan women:
"I was working for The Times in 1980, and just south of Kabul I picked up
a very disturbing story. A group of religious mujahedin fighters had attacked
a school because the communist regime had forced girls to be educated alongside
boys. So they had bombed the school, murdered the head teacher's wife and
cut off her husband's head. It was all true. But when The Times ran the story,
the Foreign Office complained to the foreign desk that my report gave support
to the Russians. Of course. Because the Afghan fighters were the good guys.
Because Osama bin Laden was a good guy. Charles Douglas-Home, then editor
of The Times would always insist that Afghan guerrillas were called "freedom
fighters" in the headline. There was nothing you couldn't do with words. "
More than a few liberals and radicals in the u.s.supported
the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan in the 1980s, not stopping for a minute
to find out why the rebellion started and what Afghan women thought of it.
Women's lives are so unimportant that they are less than the most distant
star, after all. Right now there are women in Afghanistan stubbornly conducting
illegal underground schools for girl-children, just as there have been Afghan
women health workers running illegal underground clinics for women although
they have almost no medicines or access to medical equipment. There are freedom
fighters in the world, more than we sometimes think. They're who I want to
This text was written by J. Sakai and
Butch Lee, both of whom have authored several other works available from
the Kersplebedeb Literature Rack. This text originally appeared in the ARA
Research Bulletin #2, also available from the Kersplebedeb Literature Rack.
S11: Truth and Consequences
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