True scope: East-West Rivalry; Moscow v Washington; Political Absolutism – i.e., the power of the sovereign to destroy property and persons alike with impunity – v Democratic Distribution of Power & Rule of Law. Flies in the ointment: black markets; corruption; guerrilla wars; low intensity conflicts; wars by proxy.
For fair good reason, the nuclear powers seldom directly confront one another. Financial and political arrangements and families have become deeply entangled above the table and below it, and there’s not much we ordinary people can do about it but ride out the storms with awareness that ultimately the modern world, as we would know it, is well at war with feudal-medieval power as well as barbaric and primitive forces in nature expressed through history.
And the Taliban?
The Taliban are already failing Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, by way of our investment and presence across 20 years, has now to choose for itself — out of sight but in the hearts of Afghans and through resistance — what it wishes to be.
One may hope the warlords and others have no wish to become or remain themselves irrecoverably backward.
We shall have to wait and see whether the “New Improved Taliban” step up to the challenge of undertaking an empirical investigation using modern forensic methods amidst popular challenge. What integrity will they put on display; with what broad acceptance and trust may their findings be met? So we shall see.
Here’s another telltale with fear in the wind —
Looking pale and shattered having already suffered a beating at the hands of Taliban thugs, Gulafroz spoke in English, saying: ‘I was one of the very senior policewomen in Afghanistan.
‘I did everything to encourage women into the police, against the wishes of the Taliban. Now my life is in danger. Real danger.
For its part, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “the insurgents (had) spread fear” in Conakry before taking the direction of the presidential palace, but that “the presidential guard, supported by the defense and security forces, loyalists and republicans, have contained the threat and pushed back the group of attackers.
My reading suggests Afghanistan supplies about 84 percent of the world’s opium and heroin supply with now an excursion into amphetamine by way of Ephedra sinica, another native plant; and about 50 percent of America’s supply comes from Mexico. In either source state, the industry appears founded in the kind of economy that finds ready labor for rote work while attracting the bosses and crews that produce and sustain illegal enterprise and all that follows from it. Portmanteau may suffice for what comes of the underworld’s efforts near the source: “narconomy”; “narco-state”; “narcotecture”. Somewhere between the source and the supply chain’s end, the last seller, ne “dealer” (as with any other commodity) has perhaps literally a corner on the market and good living all the way to glamorous.
However, there’s the other ending that one may view here as tragedy attracts its modern video-equipped witnesses who have made the final degradation, desperation, enslavement, humiliation, and isolation unbearably and undeniably apparent.
The “medicine” ain’t about health.
From mountain farm to urban sidewalk, The Money sings all of the parts of the industry — growing, processing, packaging, shipping — to her and well sustained by the necessity of income and the want of personal aggrandizement, better living, defense, and security. It’s only business, of course, but listen to its testimonials, have a good look (above) at Philadelphia’s portion of America’s hooked-and-lost whose relationships have come down to habitual forms of theft or trade with, perhaps, small talk between.
Of course, The Money talks.
The Pharmacy, no less than every one of its customers, ain’t free.
Today’s killing of Ahmed Wali Karzai, reportedly by a close business associate, is a reminder of the complicated web of loyalties, interests, and contradictions that the U.S. has attempted to navigate for nearly a decade. Ahmed Wali Karzai was a politician working within the system and a criminal working against it; he ran militias on behalf of the CIA and funded drug networks that were the stated enemy of the U.S. military; he worked with trucking contractors that sold services to NATO and that funded anti-NATO warlords; he was a close ally of the U.S. and a tremendous drag on its mission to win over the Afghan people.
Afghanistan is the world’s top source of opium, accounting for 83% of global production from 2015 to 2020, according to the United Nations. In 2018, opium poppy occupied three times more land than it did in 2000. Afghanistan also produces cannabis and increasing quantities of methamphetamine, which can be made cheaply from the local ephedra plant and may eventually rival the production of opiates.
Narcotics is Afghanistan’s largest economic sector, with over 500,000 employed in opium in 2018. Banning drugs would therefore be unpopular and might provoke resistance against the fledgling regime.
Wikipedia. “Ahmed Wali Karzai”: — A June 2009 U.S. embassy cable alleged that much of the actual business of running the Afghan city of Kandahar “takes place out of public sight, where Ahmed Wali Karzai operates, parallel to formal government structures, through a network of political clans that use state institutions to protect and enable licit and illicit enterprises.” —
Greed obliterates authentic purposes to become an end in and of itself. Perhaps it helps create an ordered society, bureaucratic, impersonal, programmed — but that rather misses the mark as regards human services and well-being.
By way of cold categorization, it might be said that all addicts are criminals, but one may wonder what part are themselves predators and what other part preyed on by dealers and doctors or equivalents in counseling.
From time to time, I catch the boilerplate conservative prescription “personal responsibility!” in relation to the kind of damaged, enslaved, marginalized, and traumatized person that has lost all agency, confidence, efficacy, and esteem and wonder how pernicious and greed-ridden a society we have become. Can we tell the difference between the sad sack hipster and self-serving and profiteering sociopaths? Have we overemphasized the substance — whatever it may be or have been — and under-emphasized disconnection, marginalization, ostracism? And if so, for what?
In business terms, we are each and everyone of us our own “cost centers” — we want to live with means; we wish to pay our way; and for the most part, that’s what we do — but for a portion of America’s 320 millions souls — about a million or so the last time I checked (2019 with figures from 2017 compiled by authorities in 2018)— personalities or problems attach to expensive dependencies, and those persons then become the smallest of “profit centers” — revenue generators — for the money mad among sociopaths, and that from the curb to the corporate suite. Family’s gone and all the connections left are “fiduciary”, i.e., all about money and control bereft of conscience and soul.
As so often happens, a frantic mother called us about her 19-year-old daughter, who I’ll call Jen. A heroin addict, Jen had been shuttled between multiple treatment centers and sober homes by greedy marketers looking to cash in on the teenager’s insurance benefits by keeping her perpetually in recovery, but never sober.
In the American failure lies a paradox: Washington’s massive military juggernaut has been stopped in its steel tracks by a small pink flower – the opium poppy. Throughout its three decades in Afghanistan, Washington’s military operations have succeeded only when they fit reasonably comfortably into central Asia’s illicit traffic in opium – and suffered when they failed to complement it.
The world’s mafia — call them “Transnational Crime Organizations (TCOs)” for this world made smaller by the Internet and jets — sustain themselves through corrupt or intimidated officials who keep the traffic illegal, the profits high, and the goods coursing through the financial bloodstreams of the world as well as, of course, the bodies and minds of the world’s addicts. At the far end of the poppy field and well beyond its horizons, a human refuse washes up on the world’s streets, leaving governments in which the corrupt grow rich while the good drown before a dangerous and endless;u horrifying surge of affliction, crime, bodily damage, and emotional need that repeatedly defies bureaucratic processes and solutions.
Here for about 10 minutes is what the end of the poppy field looks like.
A Brief Comment on Narcotics, Realpolitik, and East-West Rivalry
I don’t want to go too far into Darkness and Light on this post, but it may no longer prove sufficient to “Act Locally, Think Globally” in light of an apparent willingness in states as well as persons to serve not only both sides of a conflict (with visible sales of common enough deliverables) but as well demonstrated in Afghanistan both the Devil and God or the Evil and the Good. Toward the end of America’s long tour in Afghanistan, generals made note of the use of Russian arms and materiel by Taliban forces, a black market trade if ever was — but who has picked up the chips, so to speak, in Asia but Russia, which is now doing a brisk business in defense sales to the neighbors of a soon to be Talibanized Afghanistan.
Whatever the motives of each of its drifted “residents”, McPherson Square’s “Needle Park” and Kensington Avenue’s Junktopia host a portion of the nation’s most damaged and most lost children, “dipping” and homeless as well as short on options into recoveries more reliable than stopovers for intramural billing between service-providing bureaucracies and their subcontractors. Few, if any, have a clue as regards the nefarious “international relations” and “supply chains” that put the poppy seed in the ground and nursed it all the way to a spoon and needle and arm on the streets of Philadelphia (“City of Brotherly Love“) for some in Beijing and Moscow to smile and between them say, “How well America takes care of her people!”
Everything we say and do determines what’s going to happen to us in the future. Whether we act honestly, dishonestly, help or hurt others, it all gets recorded and manifests as a karmic reaction either in this life or a future life. All karmic records are carried with the soul into the next life and body.
Moscow has positioned the Taliban of Afghanistan right where it wants them, i.e., as a block and goad to the west, as a proxy for war by needle, and as another of the most honorable, most pious, and most hypocritical entities of the world, preaching sobriety by the book while taking up its role as the world’s foremost exporter of intoxication and death.
In Nigeria, Fulani raids Christian villages have been taking place for years with at least implied complicity on the part of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. The Fulani’s violence has been brutal and, if reports are to be believed, rising to a stage beyond atrocity in the recent burning of a family alive in its own house.
Ranchers v Farmers?
That’s a familiar framing, but in the press, Fulani barbarism — no other word comes close to describing the inhumanity of it — plays as it has elsewhere, i.e., as Islamic terrorism against civil society. The underlying purposes may be economic and ethnic, but the horror created and relayed through Nigeria’s press would seem the same as that unbridled violence delivered by ISIS.
The attackers had reportedly destroyed the bridge leading to the community thereby preventing possible access before launching the attacks.
An entire family was burnt alive in their homes while others that attempted to run into nearby bush were shot. Several persons sustained gunshot wounds and are being treated in the hospitals.
Yelwa-zangam community is dominated by Christian Anagutta natives.
Unknown assailants attacked the Yelwa Zangam community in Jos North Local Government Area (LGA), Plateau State overnight Aug 24-25. Initial accounts report that up to 36 residents died. Locals have attributed the attack to Fulani bandits who reportedly set bodies and homes on fire. Reports also indicate the attackers set fire to a bridge leading to the impacted area to prevent security personnel from responding. Authorities did confirm the incident without providing the casualty toll and announced that 10 individuals have already been arrested.
The incident underscores the deteriorating security situation in Plateau. Following a similar fatal incident Aug. 14, authorities imposed curfews in Jos North, Jos South, and Bassa LGAs. The curfews remain in effect 18:00-06:00 as of Aug. 25.
Instead of focusing on disaster, it would be more helpful if the Good of the world focused on improved Qualities of Living — biological, financial, psychological, social, spatial, spiritual — near and far. We need healthy communities globally as well as a healthy planet, and where there’s open conflict, we are collectively failing at both.
There’s the word from my low on-high seat, but I believe there’s some truth to having our obsessions and worries controlling our destinies in place of strong good possibilities and dreams appropriate to our individual and global existential challenges. If the latter attitude were prevalent across cultures, we would be chasing large fires with plantings conducive to producing a right human-healthy planetary atmosphere.
And why not?
Why not view natural destruction as opportunity for lending nature a hand on the positive side?
In Afghanistan this past month, people, notable people, people in positions of great responsibility and power, allowed or enabled corruption and greed to overtake better judgment and ceded power — for the time being — to the most absolute, fanatical, narcissistic, and ruthless of malign actors who will now proceed to destroy modern education at its outermost reach and with its Draconian views dishearten its population. The Taliban, so expert in barbarism and terror, will probably fail at every modern challenge and task, further inviting into their medieval sphere greater and more controlling powers, one criminal, the other dystopian, when modern Afghani People could just as well run circles around their malignancy and regain for themselves a more authentic contemporary dignity and freedom.
And why not?
Why not view the Taliban as the egregious insult to universal dignity, freedom, prosperity, and security that it has proven itself to be?
Afghanistan, should it reenter a politically coherent and cohesive phase, would be wise to help its latest burden fly off the rails on its own.
While the Taliban debate their 7th Century beliefs and Afghanistan goes dark, figuratively if not literally (but that’s a real possibility), the more advanced worlds as well as the Taliban might with to reconsider the Qualities of Living involved in the management of any geopolitical space (again biological, psychological, social, spatial, spiritual): where on earth does God, nature, or the universe, for that matter, protect air, soil, and water quality? Ask the same about security for persons and property? Given that we are all part of a gregarious species, what are “social freedoms” and what might the best societies offer in latitude and range for the full suite of our human enthusiasms, interests, and shared as well as dissenting values? What are our best options in our spiritual existence in relation to choice and reason?
Are forced confinement, control, and the delivery of feudal-medieval darkness really the best the Taliban’s Kabul might do?
While the Taliban appear on track for that, the world has changed and will continue changing beyond them for the better and by the most progressing of contemporary democratic standards. Perhaps all, including the Taliban themselves, would do better to dwell on transformations more suited to defending and serving earth and her human cargo — i.e., all of the rest of the world — than to a now deeply impoverished 7th Century system of belief and hypocritical religious egotism.
Anyone who thinks that the 21st century Taliban is a new version is delusional. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid publicly stated, “Women will be afforded all rights within the limits of Islam [Shariah].” However, they have not explained what they mean by “the limits of Islam,” given their messages are not in sync with their actions on the ground. What form of education will be provided and will women’s rights be safeguarded as before? Will women be able to maintain their positions in media and government?
Even if the Taliban stick to their words, they would still fall short of their obligations under international human rights law. The Taliban’s way of justice translates to harsh punishments, including public executions and beheading of accused murderers and adulterers. It is very unlikely that they will accept any form of criticism, which is incompatible with the universal declaration of human rights.