Raphael Alexander: The left's moral bankruptcy on Afghanistan

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Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture
Raphael Alexander: The left's moral bankruptcy on Afghanistan

Raphael Alexander: The left's moral bankruptcy on Afghanistan

Quote:

Stephen Harper has been in the media, indirectly undermining the mission in Afghanistan by doing something that few politicians dare to do: tell the truth. Prime Minister Harper was quoted as saying that “we’re not going to win this war just by staying”, and following that up with the assertion that we will never defeat the insurgency. This is all fairly consistent, of course, with the more recent government line on Afghanistan. Preparing us for our 2011 exit by using language that lets down the hawks gently without playing it up too much for the doves. While I’m a little irritated that some Conservatives were impugning the patriotism of Canadians for suggesting the exact same things years ago, we can finally all arrive on the same page.

Of course a western military presence in Afghanistan is never going to be the best solution. It is entirely logical to say that Canada and international troops need to prepare the Afghan Army and police to protect their own citizens with their own trained military forces. There are countless obstacles to this truly independent state, but this does not mean that the mission is a failure by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has opened the door to the ranks of the left, many of whom feel that Stephen Harper’s words vindicate their defeatist views all along:

The problem I have with the leftist position is that it is based upon the theory that western intervention is as bad or worse than  Taliban rule. That is a preposterously unfounded argument. Not only is the defeat and eventual containment of the Taliban an essential part of the geopolitical prospective for western security, it is a moral imperative that we cannot afford to fail on. Pakistan is currently in the throes of succumbing to radical forces, and leaving an undefended Afghanistan behind to be controlled by radical Islamic forces and al-Qaeda is perhaps the most unconscionable position possible.

First of all, military history is important, but the dredging up of Russia and Britain could not be more irrelevant. These were imperial powers that invaded Afghanistan for reasons entirely separate from the modern, NATO and UN-approved mandates in this country. The western-backed mujahedeen, which succeeded in main part against the Russians because of American support, was more of a cold war intervention between superpowers than it was a one-one-one fight.

Second, the idea that NATO is in Afghanistan for purposes of regional control over resources and to threaten the borders of Russia and China is also unsound and unfounded. As Mark Collins points out, there was always a multi-party pipeline plan in the works long before any western intervention in Afghanistan. The history in summary:

The original project started in March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project was signed. In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium for construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal was formed. On 27 October 1997, CentGas was incorporated in formal signing ceremonies in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan by several international oil companies along with the Government of Turkmenistan. In January 1998, the Taliban, selecting CentGas over Argentinian competitor Bridas Corporation, signed an agreement that allowed the proposed project to proceed.

How very western-imperialist of the Taliban.

The modern left’s abandonment of the moral humanitarian struggle against anti-democratic Islamic imperialism is, to say the least, bankrupt on a number of levels. Afghanistan was never going to be an “easy” conflict to win, and victory in absolute terms was never something that was promised by anyone of sound mind. The least that we can do for both global security and the lives of innocent Afghans is to train the Afghan military and police as well as we can, improve infrastructure and the free market, and encourage democratic reforms among the corrupt governmental bodies. Progress in Afghanistan has been made. Any humanitarian aid worker on the ground will tell you that western forces should not and can not leave now. Just one example is the more than 4.2 million school children who have return to studies after the fall of the Taliban, 35% of which are girls who were banned under the Islamists.

Links:

[url=http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/03/02/...National Post article[/url]

 

 I was pleasantly surprised to see this article and a previous one on the NP about marijuana legalization by the same author. I don't fully agree with him, but he brings up some valid points which I'm interested in seeing the reaction here on bable.

 

Disclosure: I am not a troll, I'm generally progressive, but have differences of opinion with much of the left on afghanistan. I currently support the greens but I make no claim to represent their views on all issues. If you feel you have a need to use my views to attack the greens please check for higher than normal levels of reactionary behaviour, uncontrollable rage, self-righteousness, and general disgust, for you may be overdosing and it could lead to problems with your health. Wink

Issues Pages: 
Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

FYI: There are hidden links in the article, or you may go to the main link for easier access to them. I also made a spelling error on babble. Sorry all! Frown Too bad I can no longer edit.

 

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

This really belongs in [url=another">http://rabble.ca/babble/national-news/harper-acknowledges-aghan-defeat][... thread,[/url] if it belongs on babble at all.

It's a right-wing piece of shit. 

Cueball Cueball's picture

“Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

 

Herman Goering

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

It only mentions the harper thing once, and it is an opinion piece separate from that story, however thanks for the link! Smile

 On whether it is a "righ-wing piece of shit" and "if it belongs on babble at all":

 Is not agreeing with the current leftist position on afghanistan while understanding where they are coming from and making reasonable responses, really so terrible? Not that he nor I agree necessarily with the right on this either, however I cannot speak for him.

Since when are you the judge of what can show up on babble? Are arguments against the grain of most babblers illegal or something?

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Perhaps we could talk about the moral bankruptcy of the right when it supports right wing policies in the name of left wing ideals. 

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

That's a good quote you found Cueball, but I don't see how you can transpose it directly into this situation.

Do you believe that all wars are unjustified?

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

We could. Do you want to make the forum post about it then? I assume it would mostly be preaching to the choir, but maybe it will fly.

However, personally, I'm more interested in what babblers think about this article.

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Interested Observer wrote:

That's a good quote you found Cueball, but I don't see how you can transpose it directly into this situation.

Do you believe that all wars are unjustified?

 

Of course all wars are unjustified. Can you name one that was?

WillC

Interested Observer wrote:
...

Are arguments against the grain of most babblers illegal or something?

The most interesting discussions on babble take place between supporters of the left.  Right wing drivel such as you have posted can be found on every daily newspaper, radio station, and tv network. 

Webgear

 

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Okay, imagine this situation:

You are the leader of Belgium. You have a defensive pact with Britain and you are minding your own business when Nazi Germany decides to invade your country because it is preferable than invading through Alsace/Lorraine which the French heavily fortified and would cause massive casualties on their 'side.' What would you do? Not fight back? What if you were Britain, would you not honour your defensive pact with your ally Belgium?

Defensive wars are still wars.

Example #2:

 In regards to afghanistan: The americans essentially installed a radical wahhabi based group in power, because it was the easy route in getting rid of the USSR's occupying force.

The war is over, americans retreat thinking all is good, reagan hails osama bin laden and others as heroes and invites them to washington.

It was obviously a terrible mistake.  The Taleban start to rule and force all into submission. They have weekly killings in polo fields for political opponents and women who fail to wear burkhas, etc. They commit other atrocities such as defacing ancient rock carvings of buddha, etc.. people are outraged by this once they hear about it.

 Now obviously, The US is in the wrong, and we can talk about their intentions, their frequent use of mass killing bomb runs over civilian areas that they thought were targets, and frequent incidents of 'friendly fire' ever since WW2.

But were they not justified in removing a regime that actively supported people who flew planes into buildings full of people? Were they not justified in responding to the atrocities committed by the taleban? Were they not justified in removing a regime they put in by mistake, and were therefore responsible for the results?

However wrong the US is for the things they do, and how crappily they fix their mistakes, were they still not justified in trying?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Is it right-wing drivel? I view it more as a centrist position, criticizing both the left and, although not enough in this opinion piece due to the nature of topic, criticizing the right. (I believe the author is conservative himself, however he disagrees with elements of his 'grouping') Or is the centre automatically right-wing since it's not left-wing? Can an opinion on an issue not fall into those categories?

Even if one were to call this a right-wing position, would it automatically make it wrong even if it were backed up with solid arguments and sound reasonable and realistic.

Labels are used by people who are too lazy or stubborn to admit they may be wrong and reinforces their own view out of egotistical necessity. (This description includes me of course, however I'm trying. Wink)

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Interested Observer wrote:

Okay, imagine this situation:

You are the leader of Belgium. You have a defensive pact with Britain and you are minding your own business when Nazi Germany decides to invade your country because it is preferable than invading through Alsace/Lorraine which the French heavily fortified and would cause massive casualties on their 'side.' What would you do? Not fight back? What if you were Britain, would you not honour your defensive pact with your ally Belgium?

Defensive wars are still wars. 

Thanks for walking me through it. So I take it your meaning is that Hitler's invasion of Belgium was unjustified. So, I guess we can assert that likewise Hitler's invasion of Poland was unjustified. So, in the balance we can say that WWII was not justified.

So, that leaves us asking again what wars are justified, and if there is one, can you name it?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
The problem I have with the leftist position is that it is based upon the theory that western intervention is as bad or worse than  Taliban rule.

I am assuming you agree with that IO, so tell me then, when is military intervention justified? Do you have a set of criteria by which we could argue a military response could be justified? Will I find it in your hypothetical situation? Let's see ...

I guess you not, but let's take this:

Quote:

It was obviously a terrible mistake.  The Taleban start to rule and force all into submission. They have weekly killings in polo fields for political opponents and women who fail to wear burkhas, etc. They commit other atrocities such as defacing ancient rock carvings of buddha, etc.. people are outraged by this once they hear about it.

 Now obviously, The US is in the wrong, and we can talk about their intentions, their frequent use of mass killing bomb runs over civilian areas that they thought were targets, and frequent incidents of 'friendly fire' ever since WW2.

But were they not justified in removing a regime that actively supported people who flew planes into buildings full of people? Were they not justified in responding to the atrocities committed by the taleban? Were they not justified in removing a regime they put in by mistake, and were therefore responsible for the results?

So you say 1) The Taliban were funded and supported by the USA in a cyncical cold war ploy; 2) the result of that cynical cold war ploy was the imprisonment of the nation under a tyranical religious regime and the people were abandoned by that same USA;  3) And you say the USA uses mass killings and has since WWII. And then you conclude that the USA is correct in killing Afghanis to correct their record of mistakes and evil geo-politcical maneuvering. Is that how your logic works?

If we apply the logic of your own and your National Post author, the world should be waging war against the disease, the USA, rather than the symptoms, the Taliban and Afghanistan, wouldn't you agree?

So why isn't your rightwing commentator all, concerned about left wing politics, and yourself agitating for global war against America? Why don't you put your mouth where your hypocrisy is?

 

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Yes, hitlers invasion of belgium was unjustified, that was besides the point, however I probably should have been more clear in my thinking. The British did not have to join in, if they did not would that have been a position that was just?

I thought my second example covered that.

I do agree that in general and in theory wars are almost always unjustified, and should be avoided at all costs.

However, the concepts of the global village, humanism, democratic ideals and universal rights and freedoms have not been around for long enough for there to be many examples of just wars (as relative as everything is). Even the concept of nationalism hasn't been around that long, and before that there were mostly feudal lords.

The league of nations was only created  in 1919. That's less than a century ago.

Before that I can think of defensive wars that Austria participated in where they were defending the territorial integrity of the Holy Roman Empire from Aggressors.

So, I'd say in general, I believe that defensive wars are almost always justified, wars of aggression are almost always unjustified. (In some cases the aggressor is really the defender, but that's wholy up to interpretation) 

For another recent example, what about the oppression of minorities in Greater Serbia, and the ensuing liberation wars, including the most recent one with kosovo. What was just/unjust and why? 

 On a more personal/human level, I don't believe that any conflict is just or that any warfare should happen. The problem is how to act when the world does not agree with you or when people are being abused or killed and all other methods of diplomacy fail. Frown

 

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

These situations are not at all comparble, well at least objectively speaking. In the case of Poland, for example, the Polish were defending themselves from a direct invasion of their country by the forces of the Whermacht.

In the second case, it is we who are doing the attacking. Do you see the difference between "attack" and "defend"?

Your question, in the first example would be to ask the question, "is German rule worse than rule by the Polish autocrats, who were summarily evicting people of German ethnic background in a reign of ethnic cleansing against Germans living in Poland?". It is a fact. They were.

This fact in no way justified the German invasion, because war is tyrrany. The rule of the gun over law, the whim of the individual soldier, the caprice of an officer, of shameless huckstering and of making alliances with low friends in high places, and so on. In that light, yes, the tyrrany of the Taliban is far superior to "our" rule because at least it imposed order and law, however violent, whereas we have chosen to impose the supreme tyrrany, which is war itself that is by definition violence and anarchy without any real order, whatsoever.

Even worse, we also broke, on the way to our achieving near total moral corruption, while shamelssly pandering to ideals that we had no hope of living up to, broke the two cardinal rules of imperialism. One: never engage in a war you can not win. And the second, which leads to the first: "never get involved in a land war in Asia." 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
Do you see the difference between "attack" and "defend"?

I think the problem lies here:  "the concepts of the global village, humanism, democratic ideals and universal rights and freedoms have not been around for long enough for there to be many examples of just wars"

The concept of the "global village" is a concept of rich white people doing eco-tourism and always wanting the natives to be accomodating and welcoming to our first world wisdom and how we could solve all their problems if they would just be more like us. Like, why don't they travel more?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

I agree that war is hard to justify. However, I believe that inaction is also hard to justify. Also, no, I obviously don't have a clear formula. Wink

  I think you may have stretched point 3 a bit. The US is wrong to use the tactics they use in warfare. The US is justified in removing a transnational Religious Zealot organization of tyranny supported by most of the local mujahadeen leaders that they put into power. They do not represent most afghanis. So leaving them in power would have been the preferable choice? Have you polled afghaniis on this question? Or was there another way to resolve the problem? And if not the us, then who, and would they even have been able to? Is it not justified for a country to try to fix a mistake? 

I do not own this national post blogger who I believe has his own separate blog with the same material, the author is somewhat irrelevant.

The disease is not specifically the usa as other countries have acted and act just as them, just with less resources. The disease is humanity. Frown So even, if the cause were to be dealt with(usa), that does not automatically remove the symptom unfortunately, even though it is not really a symptom, but a separate symptom battling with the first symptom after having been helped out by the first.  Undecided

Again, I do not own him and therefore will not defend him.

In the case of America, there is still hope as they are not beyond reason. On that line of thinking every country should go to war with every other country for supplying weapons and such or for all other infractions. 

Moreover, there are still other ways to try to address the problem, whereas, in the case of the taleban, I do not believe that was so. If you could enlighten me as to how, I might change my tune.

The problem I find with the left on this is that they are great at pointing out wrongdoings in this area, but are solely lacking in alternatives, and ways in which to work with what we've got. However, I am open to changing my mind.

 

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Interested Observer wrote:

I agree that war is hard to justify. However, I believe that inaction is also hard to justify. Also, no, I obviously don't have a clear formula.

A somewhat wise "traditional" conservative, named Dalton Camp, opined on the occassion of our intervention in Afghanistan, just before his death, "When in doubt, do no harm."

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Cueball wrote:

These situations are not at all comparble, well at least objectively speaking. In the case of Poland, for example, the Polish were defending themselves from a direct invasion of their country by the forces of the Whermacht.

In the second case, it is we who are doing the attacking. Do you see the difference between "attack" and "defend"?

Your question, in the first example would be to ask the question, "is German rule worse than rule by the Polish autocrats, who were summarily evicting people of German ethnic background in a reign of ethnic cleansing against Germans living in Poland?". It is a fact. They were.

This fact in no way justified the German invasion, because war is tyrrany. The rule of the gun over law, the whim of the individual soldier, the caprice of an officer, of shameless huckstering and of making alliances with low friends in high places, and so on. In that light, yes, the tyrrany of the Taliban is far superior to "our" rule because at least it imposed order and law, however violent, whereas we have chosen to impose the supreme tyrrany, which is war itself that is by definition violence and anarchy without any real order, whatsoever.

Even worse, we also broke, on the way to our achieving near total moral corruption, while shamelssly pandering to ideals that we had no hope of living up to, broke the two cardinal rules of imperialism. One: never engage in a war you can not win. And the second, which leads to the first: "never get involved in a land war in Asia." 

I'm not sure I can disagree with you on your initial point. Yes I can see, but thats where we disagree apparently. 

I don't hold tyrannical order to be worthier than disorder for somewhat justifiable reasons.

However, in Iraq I believe that that would have been the preferable choice for many iraqis. However, what was done cannot be undone and they must make the best of the situation.

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

In for a penny in for a pound? How about why throw good money after bad?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

Quote:
Do you see the difference between "attack" and "defend"?

I think the problem lies here:  "the concepts of the global village, humanism, democratic ideals and universal rights and freedoms have not been around for long enough for there to be many examples of just wars"

The concept of the "global village" is a concept of rich white people doing eco-tourism and always wanting the natives to be accomodating and welcoming to our first world wisdom and how we could solve all their problems if they would just be more like us. Like, why don't they travel more?

They were just words used as examples for the general change in thinking the western world has intowards itself. I much prefer them over the view of their ancestors, however much I agree with the rest of what you are saying.

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Cueball Cueball's picture

Yes.

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

There really is no definity to criteria for justification. Maybe I should have just not used that word? Wink

EDIT: Although, there could be a case for saying that self-determination is a strong factor in the justifiability of conflict.

Back to my main point, was there a credible alternative for dealing with the tyranny of the taleban?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

yes, to which question? both? and if it was the second, what would that have been most likely to resemble?

Cueball Cueball's picture

The latter.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
In the case of America, there is still hope as they are not beyond reason.

That is asinine. Why is there greater hope for a serial invader than for Afghanistan? Is there a little cultural bias involved here?

Quote:
. On that line of thinking every country should go to war with every other country for supplying weapons and such or for all other infractions.

Wouldn't that serve the purpose of ending aggressive war? And why do you downplay the crime? Is supplying weapons all the US has done since before the Spanish American War? Can you describe the Spanish American War?

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Okay, what was it?

Cueball Cueball's picture

Nothing.

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

Quote:
In the case of America, there is still hope as they are not beyond reason.

That is asinine. Why is there greater hope for a serial invader than for Afghanistan? Is there a little cultural bias involved here?

Why are you equating the taleban to afghanistan? They are not afghanistan. They were in control of afghanistan.

Quote:
. On that line of thinking every country should go to war with every other country for supplying weapons and such or for all other infractions.

Wouldn't that serve the purpose of ending aggressive war? And why do you downplay the crime? Is supplying weapons all the US has done since before the Spanish American War? Can you describe the Spanish American War?

Not sure I follow, or whether you follow me. I do think it is crime, maybe not as big as going to war itself, but a crime nonetheless. That almost all countries do it, deeply disgusts me. Those were just examples I did not want to write a list. I'm not that familiar with the spanish American war. Could you enlighten me as to your point?

 

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Nothing encourages tyranny rather than deals with it.

I would argue that that would be unjust to afghanis living under the taleban, but I doubt I would change your mind, so I think we should leave it at that. Bonnes Nuit! Smile

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Well, maybe that's the problem. Perhaps you should study the Spanish American War and add to that the history of Haiti. Then maybe you will develop a different perspective. Especialy considering that is just the beginning of a long history of aggressive war, violence, and oppression that would make the Taliban look like boy scouts at a biker party.

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

I will, but can't you still make your point and address mine? Wink

Brian Topp: Our friends on the blue team seem to mostly focus on sticks, and not so much on carrots. ;)

Interested Observer Interested Observer's picture

Must Leave, will respond tomorrow.

Cueball Cueball's picture

Interested Observer wrote:

Nothing encourages tyranny rather than deals with it.

I would argue that that would be unjust to afghanis living under the taleban, but I doubt I would change your mind, so I think we should leave it at that. Bonnes Nuit! Smile

Not at all. War is tyrrany, and in its aftermath the forceful imposition of the new order. At what point the war really stops and the enforcement of order begins, is hard to identify, but as we can see the result of 20 years of war and occupation was nothing less than the tyrrany of the Taleban. And now we have imposed more tyrrany. Your question is false. Imposing war does not end tyrrany because it is tyrrany.

Tyrrany has not ended in Afghanistan, and nor will it end until we leave.

 Would you try and put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

When you respond tomorrow, perhaps you could tell me how many Afghans you would be willing to have killed by invader forces to reach the social ideal you desire? More or less than 50%?

Fidel

 Raphael Alexander wrote: 

Quote:
First of all, military history is important, but the dredging up of Russia and Britain could not be more irrelevant. These were imperial powers that invaded Afghanistan for reasons entirely separate from the  modern, NATO and UN-approved mandates in this country

[url=http://www.lindamcquaig.com/Columns/ViewColumn.cfm?REF=61]Linda McQuaig[/url] wrote:

Quote:

The notion of the Afghan mission as a moral, legal war pervades the Manley report. Contrasting it to the invasion of Iraq, Manley portrays the intervention in Afghanistan as a law-abiding, UN-authorized venture. But [Francis] Boyle says that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were both illegal under international law, in that neither received Security Council approval.

The Manley report implies that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was endorsed by the Security Council, but Boyle notes that the Security Council resolution cited by Manley in no way authorized military action. Rather, it called for the perpetrators of 9/11 to be brought to justice – suggesting they be dealt with as criminals through extradition and the judicial system, not war.

Manley was a Liberal minister stooging for crazy George then, and Harper is a replacement stooge for the vicious empire with tentacles in Ottawa. 

[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v697/rabblerabble/manharp.jpg[/IMG]

Raphael Alexander said:

Quote:
Pakistan is currently in the throes of succumbing to radical forces, and leaving an undefended Afghanistan behind to be controlled by radical Islamic forces and al-Qaeda is perhaps the most unconscionable position possible.

Does Raphael even care that al Qa'eda is a US CIA creation? Has Raphael ever read about NATO's deep state involvement in perpetrating false flag terrorism in Europe and former USSR during the cold war era? Did his mama ever give him a colouring book when he was a child, the kind that have connect the dots pages?