What American and the world witnessed 21 years ago was an Islamic terrorist attack on two breathtaking office buildings symbolic of western business and political order. At the time, as one country-western singer-songwriter noted–Alan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”–an ordinary American couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran.
Perhaps that absence of American and more generalized global political sophistication has changed.
As flesh swells where stung, BackChannels views the September 11 attack on America’s homeland as the installation of the “New Nationalism” to come to the United States and infect several other EU/NATO states–Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey–with reversions to dalliance and inroads by authoritarian power.
At least 40 civilians attending a wedding party were killed in a raid conducted by Afghan government forces and supported by US airstrikes on a Taliban hideout in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said Monday.
Abdul Majed Akhund, deputy provincial councilman, said that the majority of the dead were women and children. Twelve civilians were also injured.
The Modern West has had little issue investigating and owning up to its own woeful atrocities, including the accidents it may sanitize with the term “collateral damage”.
In fact, it or the liberal democratic populations represented by EU/NATO and assorted coalitions of the willing, may be too good at wearing the mea culpa shawl of self-shaming, but that’s another matter.
For Afghanistan, and for the most part, the damage done has been much less accomplished by the “collateral damage” of the west than by the deliberate design, decision, and application of violence by the Taliban and similar actors bent on the absolute and comprehensive political and social control of targeted states and their resources.
Using Russian-supplied arms and material, Afghanistan’s Taliban have continued a program of bombings and related attacks designed to destroy Afghani civilians without discrimination, forestall peace, discourage and impede elections, and bring general ruin to local economies and lives while proving themselves handsome, protective, strong, and wise.
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True: a malign narcissism has a great deal to do with the absolute political and social control sought by the Taliban and so many others who at times conflate themselves with God and the work of God’s will on earth.
The Taliban’s demonstrated and backfiring track record in lunacy — and that of other extremist organizations operating in Afghanistan — may finally be reaching them through the mirroring World Wide Web where high-integrity reportage faithfully conveys the character of consistently cruel, crude, and very nearly mindless violence that will in the end have changed nothing but perhaps themselves.
Most who have followed the Afghanistan story in its greater context will recall the story in which Mullah Omar took revenge on a Russian tank crew and its commander — hung from his own tank barrel — for the rape of local village girls. Omar would flee that heroic ending to raise an army to battle back the Soviet invasion of the state — and America’s CIA would step in with the delivery of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to the Mujaheddin for the comparatively cheap killing of the Soviet’s brutal and expensive helicopter gunships.
One may tire — and perhaps should — of the medieval contests between too many “kingdoms of heaven” and the repeated conflations — Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — of men with God (although Judaism has been always adamant about the separation of the Divine from the mortal).
In any case, among my acquaintance, one stands out as expert on “civilizational narcissism” — his term — and the Taliban. Here is his book from 2010 —
It may be said that all were warned but with one element missing: Soviet / post-Soviet Moscow / Moscow-Tehran.
The Soviet / post-Soviet Arc of Tears (Crimea, Syria, Yemen, for a start) hews to and encourages the despotism (“political absolutism”) so far expressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan but also well on display elsewhere in the world where the deepest and most criminal representatives of civilizational and political narcissism have either set themselves or prevailed.
BackChannels suggests the Taliban may have been taken in — duped — by Russia via al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in the shadow of the Cold War and reshaped for revenge on the west with the intent of sustaining a blind and madding authoritarianism in the world, all the better to plunder it.
President Donald Trump says the U.S.-Taliban talks on ending the fighting in Afghanistan are “dead,” deeply unfortunate wording for the Afghan civilians who have been killed by the tens of thousands over almost 18 years. Many fear his cancellation of negotiations will bring more carnage as the U.S. and Taliban, as well as Afghan forces, step up their offensives and everyday people die in the crossfire.
“We just want to go back to our homes. We don’t ask for much, but this war has made our lives impossible and has torn apart our community.” he says. “We cant go home due to the risk of drones, but after so many years of war, our community is now at war with itself – there doesn’t seem to be any end to bloodshed.”
One could argue that the Taliban is increasingly in a position to outlast the United States and claim a decisive military victory. If today’s Taliban were as cohesive as the Taliban that managed to control Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, that might well be true. But it’s not.
This weekend, Afghanistan will hold its fourth presidential election since the Taliban government’s fall in 2001. Since the U.S. and Taliban’s recent breakdown in negotiations, the Taliban have killed more Afghan civilians than at almost any other point since the beginning of 2018, as you can see in the figure below. The Taliban has killed at least 58 civilians in the last eight days alone.
And that may be about to get worse. In earlier presidential elections, the Taliban has tried not to kill civilians when they go to vote. That may change this weekend.
The U.S. envoy’s team would not elaborate Friday on the nature of the resumed discussions in Doha, but they come after a series of deadly Taliban attacks across Afghanistan. As CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, while the Taliban may be talking peace with the U.S., they’re still waging a brutal war on Afghan soil.
A security camera captured dramatic video of a car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday. The blast near the U.S. Embassy killed one American service member and another NATO soldier, as well as at least 10 civilians.
KABUL — Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country’s Western-backed government.
The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan’s chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal.
I am tired of the people, the area, the district and the province. When I go to Wardak, I feel so tired. But what to do? I have to go there and visit their graves. It is not only one person — it is 12 family members. My four daughters, three sons, my wife, and four cousins. I lost all in one day when my house was bombed by the Americans.
I can never forgive the Taliban, but if the peace deal can stop the bloodshed, I can accept them to the country. I don’t want other families to go through what I have.
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Khalilzad said, according to TOLOnews. “Of course, it is not final until the US president (Donald Trump) agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”
News of the agreement comes as violence has spiked in Afghanistan, with the latest attack occurring just hours after Khalilzad’s interview. A car bomb targeted an Afghan police station in the capital Kabul on Monday, in an area close to the heavily fortified compound where many foreign embassies and international organizations are based,
“He became known for his ability to weave through warring tribal factions and his ability to quickly get senior Afghan officials on the phone or to summon them to his office, including President Hamid Karzai,” The New York Times reported during Khalilzad’s stint as ambassador to Afghanistan — the country of his birth — from 2003 to 2005.
Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, says Khalilzad’s appointment is a sign that the Trump administration is getting serious about a political solution to America’s longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, is on the verge of an agreement with the Taliban that would pave the way for the withdrawal of some 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees that the war-wracked nation would not be used as a haven for international terrorism, according to diplomatic sources.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At first, the man was just walking across the street. Then he was running for his life. He managed four steps before the blast from the car bomb caught him.
Since then, the last few seconds of Akbar Fazelyar’s life, captured on video during a Taliban attack on Sept. 5, have become one of the most scrutinized moments in Afghanistan, slowed down and watched frame by frame on countless mobile phones and computer screens.
The vote, the fourth since the Taliban’s removal from power by a United States-led coalition in 2001, comes as heavy fighting between the armed group and government forces has led to a spike in the number of civilians killed.
The Taliban has already threatened to target election rallies and polling stations, while in recent weeks the US-backed Afghan forces have stepped up air and ground attacks, raising fears of further casualties.
Last week alone, more than 150 people were killed, according to Al Jazeera tally, in Taliban attacks, US drone strikes and raids by Afghan government forces.
The air strike was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field, Afghan officials were quoted as saying.
“On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government, and their backers in the U.S. military,” Amnesty International said in statement.
Our principal failure, in my view, was our refusal to deal with Pakistan’s double game. Even the accelerated drone attacks in western Pakistan under the Obama administration, which were somewhat effective in the fight against al Qaeda, failed to a large extent to target the Taliban, the Haqqani Group, or Hezbe Islami.
The United States also signaled a lack of military resolve. The Pentagon made incautious public statements about the reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. At one point, the combat power of the United States dropped to a single brigade, even as the insurgent threat was rising. The evident lack of U.S. commitment gave Pakistan a green light to step up the Taliban and insurgent offensive in late 2005 and early 2006.
On 17 September 2019, two suicide bombings killed over 48 people in Charikar and Kabul, Afghanistan. The first attack occurred at a rally for presidentAshraf Ghani which killed over 26 and wounded over 42. Ghani was unharmed in the incident. The second bombing occurred in Kabul near the US embassy. In this incident 22 were killed and another 38 were injured in the explosion. Children and women are among the dead and wounded in both attacks, also multiple soldiers were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said they will commit more attacks to discourage people from voting in the upcoming presidential elections.
BackChannels believes that at the end of WWII, Stalin acquired some part of the middle east that Hitler and the Ottoman Empire had lost. There must have been Nazi agents waiting for arrest or work or both. There had been certainly Arab families or powers who had been aligned with Hitler through Amin al-Husseini, and with the big war over and a two-state offer for the Palestinians and Israel on the table, the same were presented with a choice: peace (and responsible governance) or war focused on the destruction of Israel.
Whether the Soviet Union believed its own rants about the Jews or just wanted to sell and increase its influence through the promotion of anti-Semitic invective pleasing to some Arab ears, BackChannels doesn’t know.
What BackChannels does know is that Soviet arms and diplomacy helped maneuver the Arab states into a disastrous war, after which it had to keep its hooks in the region. Pan-Arab Nationalism got its strong bump up (1950s) , and the dictatorships served to block the spread of democratic western liberalism into the region (as much advanced by Israel’s establishment). The KGB’s grooming of Arafat, the establishing of the PLO, and Arafat’s rise from within would follow in the 1960s as would the wholesale development of “state-sponsored terrorism” through the Andropov years.
Fly over all that history, and we’re here today with the same “gift” from Russia, the Soviet Era and once Soviet-engineered “Middle East Conflict” that has for remnant the wreckage of old middle east dictatorships — Iraq and Libya at least — and the horror of what has been left — Syria in flames and ruins, ALL of it at the hands of its own leader; Iran environmentally damaged (it did that itself) and economically crippled by way of its own aggression and medieval barbarism.
So this morning started with a comment about moderate and peace-seeking Israelis and Palestinians approaching these issues but with the politically repressive elements born in the Soviet Era or conveyed by it through time armed, entrenched, and powerfully intimidating. The conversational partner noted that for the many participating in the talk, ” . . . place and time are all wrong . . . .”
The morning’s first response:
One may recognize “too soon” but those with casualties may be more sensitive to “too late”.
So, forward in this conversation.
Given the so many Jews involved in middle east peace activities, the onlooking Palestinian Diaspora of the west, the truth about the Moscow business plainly spreading across the web (the story of Russian Influence through Disinformation is just moving across the web these days), you would think someone would figure out that “the west” was not quite the enemy as promoted in the imagination).
Three things make us feel better — basic income; close family — and if not the one in which we’re born, then the friends we make; and general and personal security. Perhaps the Israelis and Palestinians who understand that have mutual regard and a few old problems in common.
On Medieval Divisions and Modern Multicultural Democracies
Next: a rhetoric assertion to the effect that multiculturalism has died (in South Africa) and with the implication that the medieval divisions having to do with race and religion — and by extension clans, tribes, and states — were resurgent and, by inference, all that the world has to look forward to is the greater chaos and misery of war already too well known.
The “Rainbow Dream” that Mandela had has NOT died in South Africa!
White South Africa left a legacy of now archaic land ownership arrangements, and some are upset about the state’s update or reforms to allow the state to implement policies beneficial to all South Africans.
The state’s related economics — there are too many poor! — and extended state security resources have produced conditions for brigandage — theft and murder — at least, and the aggrieved cast that in racial terms.
To better manage its issues, the people of South Africa recently ejected another corrupt communist aristocrat — the kind that take money from their people and immensely aggrandize themselves in the manners known to dictators.
From The Guardian, here’s a glimpse into how Jacob Zuma “managed” South Africa:
Cheer up: South Africa may avoid the Zimbabwean meltdown at the hands of a nominally communist narcissist (Robert Mugabe, who has been deposed in the past year or so by his own military) and continue its independent development as a modern multi-racial, multi-tribal democracy.
Humankind may never see an end to war, but it may see it diminished. The drawing down would be a real gift to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
This coming December 25 will mark the 26th year out from the dissolving of the Soviet Union (1991) toward a feudal and perhaps Orwellian politics (i.e., continuous war between three nuclear-armed giants and proxies within their spheres of influence all the way down — or, alternatively, the day may be closer to the end of the end of a long argument between the medieval world habituated to “absolute power” — power unquestionable with its brutality — especially toward the innocent — exercised with impunity — and the modern one in which democratic power is so for being checked, subject to criticism, distributed and balanced structurally (Administrations; Courts, Legislatures) and popularly (via free and fair elections).