Tuesday, July 11, 2006

solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant

"They made a desert and called it peace" Tacitus, from "Agricola"

A recent report by Human Rights Watch spells out a desperate situation for education in Afghanistan. “Schools are being shut down by bombs and threats, denying another generation of Afghan girls an education and the chance for a better life. Human Rights Watch found entire districts in Afghanistan where attacks had closed all schools and driven out the teachers and non-governmental organizations providing education. Insecurity, societal resistance in some quarters to equal access to education for girls, and a lack of resources mean that, despite advances in recent years, the majority of girls in the country remain out of school. Nearly one-third of districts have no girls’ schools. ”

According to HRW: “The Taliban and allied groups, such as warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e Islami, were responsible for many, but not all, of the attacks on schools and teachers. In other instances, local warlords have carried out such attacks to strengthen their local control. Afghanistan’s rapidly growing criminal networks, many involved in the production and trade of narcotics, also target schools because in many areas they are the only symbol of government authority. "

It is important to note that following the fall of the central Taliban government, the US occupiers deliberately undermined the possibility of a stable replacement government by forming alliances with local warlords, often returning to power narcotics gangsters who the Taliban had driven out, such as Gul Aga in Herat. The security vacuum can be understood by comparing the fact that Afghanistan has one policeman for every 1500 people, only one third the proportion of police in law-abiding Switzerland.

Human Rights watch has described the atrocities: "committed by gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners after the Taliban fell in 2001" and who have "essentially hijacked the country". The report describes army and police troops controlled by the warlords kidnapping villagers with impunity and holding them for ransom in unofficial prisons; the widespread rape of women, girls and boys; routine extortion, robbery and arbitrary murder

It is important to remember that the invasion of Afghanistan was carried out on the obscene lie that the Taliban were protecting Bin Laden, even after the government of Mullah Omar had agreed to extradite Bin laden . It is also important to remember that the degeneration of Afghanistan did not occur during the Russian military presence, but in an orgy of destruction by the American backed war lords after the Russians left in 1989, killing more than 50000 in just one year. It was this barbarism that produced the obscurantist Taliban, who managed briefly to impose some stability, but on a society already brutalised.

New Labour politicians spun their webs of deceit to make the invasion seem like a humanitarian intervention, ignoring the proposed extradition of Bin laden that made the excuse for the war hollow. Ignoring the actual track record of the Americans in promoting the killing fields of Afghanistan during the 1990s, New Labour promised that the war would lead to reconstruction. What shabby lies, what betrayal. Nearly five years on, Afghanistan is a post apocalyptic land, the people of Afghanistan, most tragically the women, sacrificed to the sordid ambitions of Tony Blair, who wanted his place in History.

14 October 2001 - John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that Britain was determined to "win the peace" in Afghanistan through a massive aid effort and the creation of a democratic, post-Taliban government. Mr Prescott, who was in Moscow for talks on terrorism and the environment, called for the international coalition to be turned into a wider campaign against global poverty once the conflict was over.

05 October 2001 - Jack Straw sent a direct message to the people of Afghanistan promising help from the outside world once the Taliban were overthrown and Osama bin Laden faced justice. In a text broadcast on the BBC World Service, the Foreign Secretary promised generous assistance to provide schools, clinics, roads and secure livelihoods in the future. He said: "Our commitment to the Afghan people is simple and sincere. You have been ill-served by those who made your country a haven for terrorists across the world. … As soon as this stops, the world will work with you to build a better future for you and for your children."

06 October 2001 - Peter Hain "Let's use this great coalition to fight world poverty. The solidarity shown to the US could promote an end to unilateralism and isolationism. The international community must work together to minimise the suffering of the Afghan people and to ensure them a peaceful, stable and free future in their country. That means helping to rebuild Afghanistan after its terrorist bases have been eliminated, not just with food aid but with development assistance for infrastructure, jobs, hospitals, schools and homes."

02 October 2001 - Tony Blair "With every bit as much thought and planning, we will assemble a humanitarian coalition alongside the military coalition "

But in reality, five years after these promises were made, the UN World Food Programme reports that: “over 50 percent of children are malnourished in Afghanistan, while one in three of people living in rural areas are unable to meet daily basic nutritional requirements.”

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