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.
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.
The Taliban’s medieval program — if installed and as previously expressed — will prove against the grain of every civilized and modern society, but we may have to watch it to believe it.
The wish for societies in their main part to be broad, compassionate, inclusive, just, reasoning, and vibrant carries with it revulsion for those who would believe themselves exclusive and whose narcissistic behavior repeatedly proves fanatical, fascist, hypocritical, and intolerant. Today’s Taliban risk proving themselves and their unique program — the idea of God courses and varies through the world’s 4,300 religions and sects, not only Islam, and not only theirs — confining, egotistical, self-serving, sadistic, selfish and nothing more. They are those whose income have previously been derived from “protection” — demanding pay to be left alone — and the wholesale shipping of poppy juice into the world’s transnational crime organizations — cartel and gangs — not pharmaceutical companies and on to hospitals.
How the Taliban now respond to the fears voiced by those representing millions of Afghans and how they meet their modern criticism will tell their true character, and should the past prove prelude, they will founder and drown in their own malign reflections.
From Journeyman Pictures, “Afghani Life Under Taliban Rule (1998)” — and regarding filming (in 1998): “According to Islam and according to our society, we are not allowed . . . under Islamic rule, there is no question of ‘why’. In Islamic society, nothing is allowed such as television, such as type (stet) such as any other recording, uh, recorders to play . . . .” (1:46-2:13).
From U.S. Department of State (November 17, 2001): “Report on the Taliban’s War Against Women”: “The life of Afghan women is so bad. We are locked at home and cannot see the sun” (Nageeba, a 35-year-old widow in Kabul).
The Taliban wants to establish an Islamic government in Afghanistan, ideally as an emirate, which would be led by a religious leader and draw its legitimacy from clerics. Afghanistan is currently an Islamic republic, which is led by a president and draws legitimacy from universal suffrage and accordance with international laws and norms.
The Taliban will have to defend Afghanistan now, and they will not be able to do that without serious Chinese and Russian and other support in the navigating of modern international legal, political, and technology systems.
Worse for the Taliban: Afghanis appear to fear them, not respect them.
Apart from fighting, first the Russians — and then the Americans who helped them stave off the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan — they have done nothing for Afghanistan apart from threatening, at least, to again impose their medieval will on a modern society. In that way, their “win” may more resemble the tyranny of the Islamic Revolution in Iran than true modern cultural Afghani self-determination.
To garner respect, the Taliban would have to deliver into their own outlook and politics the most advanced of the world’s standards having to do with comprehension of the human condition, the individual yearning for autonomy and freedom from absolute power — authoritarianism — and the dogma and propaganda employed to justify its own sadism. It has missed its own complete education thus far in the collective poetry of the world and while offering assurances has been quick nonetheless to paint over a vibrant modernity with its own darkness.
Will the Taliban escape their own darkness, in essence their own culturally suffocating presence, and make the steep climb into the light of awareness, compassion, and responsibility in concert with the decent, engaged, and responsible of the world?
While today’s west will always support indigenous self-determination and respect the sovereignty of independent states, it has demonstrated that it will not respect claims to ethnic, racial, or religious supremacism within its own bounds, and it will not approve or endorse as much elsewhere in the world. As a political bloc, EU/NATO will forever abhor absolutism, bigotry, cruelty, enslavement, hate, and subjugation — and all of that whether threatened by forces or processes within or by the enemies of freedom and security without.
How sweet this victory for the most archaic, medieval, narcissistic, and selfish of human political minds across cultures.
The Afghan People, the Afghan Military, the United States of America, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been not only humiliated by the Taliban’s guerrilla putsch made possible by corruption within the Afghan government — or money would have reached its troops and those troops would have been more appreciated, moved, and better defended when most needed — the same have been looted by Moscow, more or less, and left to do their “lessons learned” back home, which from today may become less safe in relation to the deeply retrograde Islamic Revolution in Afghanistan.
–Rightful CIA intercession on behalf of the mujaheddin during the Soviet Army’s invasion of Afghanistan (see “Operation Cyclone” for the details).
— While both the CIA and Russian interests appeared to mirror one another in retreat from Afghanistan and leaving the state to its own devices, BackChannels believes Moscow directly influenced Ayman Al-Zawahiri during a 1996-97 detention in Russia and through him the compact with Osama Bin Laden that would produce Al-Qaeda and lead to 9/11 and successive acts of Islamist terror worldwide. Conspiratorial? Delusional? Look again at whose embassy is not only staying put in Kabul but which has Taliban guards keeping it secured.
–Today, “Moscow-Kabul” may be added to “Moscow-Tehran”, another block-and-goad nexus against western culture, democracy, humanism, and liberalism.
For peace, Asian powers as well as EU/NATO have with half-measures navigated what they have believed to be an “East-West Rivalry” sustained on business and political accommodations and tensions, and as much would seem in the natural course of diplomatic and international affairs. However, BackChannels has long noted a much different axis in conflict, and that has been the tension between Feudal-Medieval Personalities and States, the chief representatives of “Political Absolutism”, and the Modern of Mind devoted to universal dignity and freedom in the address of common and global challenges to human well-being and the survival of Earth herself.
Moscow and Company (lately Beijing as well) have been most interested in Power and Wealth benefiting select elites as determined in each respective absolutist and feudal-medieval framework while much of the rest of the world now cries for deliverance from them with hopes for modern improvements in Qualities of Living wherever life has planted them.
The deeply archaic and medieval Taliban were not welcomed yesterday in Kabul nearly as much as dreaded and feared.
Modern universal moral revulsion will now oppose the Taliban’s primitive narcissism, rigidity, and violence, and however disorganized it may be, it will by way of species-wide intellectual evolution emerge naturally and implacably — no less so than what mankind has done to create the culturally interwoven complex machinery that delivers the modern world in materials and services — and yesterday’s “victory” (over millions determined to flee it and now subject to living beneath the lowering shadow of the fear of it) may yet prove but the beginning of the Islamists own end.
For the Palestinians: more Medieval Political Absolutism (and related dogma and political theater) or Modern Open Democracy with its emphasis on practical, responsible, and responsive governance?
For the Israelis: is there a right mix between medieval habits and forces within and the modern and hyper-modern worlds that might become ultimately human-centered and less interested in cultural and religious revivals?
What is really at stake between Moscow x Tehran (as critically influential in the creation of Palestinian politics) and Washington x NATO (with modern Israel representative of the western civilizational project) is this argument about political power and purpose, medieval or modern.
Were it up to me, I’d see the medieval world largely packed away but for aesthetics, beliefs, comforts, rites, and rituals, i.e., communal, familial, and personal behaviors that we may engage in of our own free will, but not political and social behavior in which we needs must cooperate for both greater personal freedom and the many operations of complexly integrated and progressing societies.
I feel in my overviews of extremism over many years that the worst — of any camp! — devote themselves more to an imagined past and central narcissistic roles in power — or the vagaries of real ones that today would be anachronistic at best — than to the environmental and human challenges of the present and future.
Look ahead: medieval or modern?
With the above posted yesterday in a Facebook Israel-Palestine peace group, I arrived at the same this morning to find no response, or in old terms made new: the sound of silence.
So if I read the silence correctly, Palestinians deserve medieval governance, corrupt with their money, dishonest to their face, with education bent and twisted, and with intimidation and violence politically repressive. No elections. Politics again at the end of the gun barrel. I don’t know if that’s what Palestinians deserve, but as much would seem to have been delivered to them through more than 73 years of hostilities sustained by their KGB-handled and Ayatollah-sponsored “leaders”.