Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just why are Australia troops in Afghanistan to prop up a corrupt dictator??

image from FlickR
“It’s important for us all to remember here in Australia that Afghanistan has been a training ground for terrorists worldwide, a training ground also for terrorists in South-East-Asia, reminding us of the reasons that we are in the field of combat and reaffirming our resolve to remain committed to that cause.” Kevin Rudd
"Our Western mission in Afghanistan is going to end in utter disaster" Robert Fisk
The farce of the so called Afghan election came to a predictable end this week with the decision by the Independent Election Commission (what a sham that title is!!) to cancel the second round election and declare the incumbent Hamid Karzai the victor. Robert Fisk's latest piece in the Independent has the headline America performs its familiar role of propping up a dictator.

Fisk tells us that the US President and UK Prime Minister even sent a message of congratulations to the corrupt and fraudulently elected President Karzai.
So why is Australia joining with Western forces to prop up a corrupt dictatorship? The Rudd Government justifies this country's involvement in the war in Afghanistan with the narrative of fighting terrorism and advancing democracy. Its a lie. Australia props up an illegitimate and corrupt government that has no popular support and is little different from the Taliban they fight.

And the Australian media continues to peddle the Rudd government line. The West Australian did its patriotic duty this week by peddling half truths with a puff piece based on Defence Department information about how Australian forces are making life safer for the Afghan people.

But there are pieces that speak another truth about the unfolding debacle and point to the reality of what Australia is fighting for.

The first is Peter Galbraith, the US official who as the second highest ranked UN officer in Afghanistan resigned after blowing the whistle on the fraudulent result in the first round of the election. Galbraith documents the extent of fraud and corruption perpetrated by the Karzai government during the election.

Australian journalist Paul McGeough had this piece in the Sydney Morning Herald this week. He wrote:
As elections go, few have been as absurd. The President set out to steal the election and got away with it in broad daylight. The UN knew what he was up to and did nothing about it.
Matthew Hoh is a former US Marine captain and foreign service officer in charge of the most contested area in Afghanistan, who recently resigned claiming that Western forces have stumbled into a 35 year long civil war

Hoh observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the Taliban but against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by a corrupt and unresponsive government in Kabul. In his resignation letter Hoh wrote that the Karzai government is filled with glaring corruption and unabashed graft and the president's confidants and chief advisers comprise drug lords and war criminals (paid in some cases by the CIA) who mock the rule of law and undermine efforts to counter the narcotics trade.

In a recent piece in Foreign Policy in Focus Sonali Kolhtakar (who is co Director of the Afghan Women's Mission and co author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propoganda of Silence) writes that:
"Our actions in Afghanistan have caused a perfect storm of untold numbers of civilian deaths, fundamentalist resurgence and women's oppression. We're protecting a corrupt government with a puppet President and criminal war lords and our bombing raids have led to a devastated and rightly bitter population and a stronger Taliban"
In his recent piece in Truth Dig Chris Hedges interviews Malalai Joya, the Afghan MP who vehemently opposes both the Taliban and the Karzai government (who I wrote about last week). Hedges writes:
"The warlords we champion in Afghanistan are as venal, as opposed to the rights of women and basic democratic freedoms, and as heavily involved in opium trafficking as the Taliban"
What we learn from reading these pieces is that rather than fighting terrorism and bringing democracy to Afghanistan the occupation, of which Australia is part, is providing support and legitimacy to:
  • the propping up of an unelected and corrupt dictatorship
  • the killing and bombing of innocent civilians by Western forces and the Taliban
  • the $36 million of international aid that has gone into Afghanistan has largely benefited the war lords, the Karzai government and drug barons while over 18 million people still live on less than $2 per day
  • massive growth in the illegal narcotics trade
  • the funneling of hundreds of millions of dollars to local warlords, criminal gangs, kidnappers, private armies, drug traffickers and many of the senior figures in the government of Hamid Karzai through the illegal trade trade in opium, used to produce heroin
  • the passing of laws that legitimise the rape and exploitation of women in marriage
  • rising rates of rape, kidnapping and domestic violence against women
  • high rates of imprisonment of women for so called honor crimes
  • democratic forces and activists being forced underground out of fear of the Karzai government and its warlord supporters on the one hand and the Taliban on the other

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