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Afghanistan: Limbs of no body

By BlckKnght in MLP
Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:30:18 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

I found (yes, from Slashdot) a remarkable essay on the current situation in Afghanistan. It is written by an Iranian film maker and gives a very insightful view of the economic, political and cultural dynamics that affect that nation and the region around it. It's long but I strongly recommend it.


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Afghanistan: Limbs of no body | 22 comments (20 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
An excellent article (4.75 / 4) (#2)
by nobbystyles on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 06:27:54 AM EST

Explains a lot about about what's going on in Afghanistan from an enlightened but non-western point of view.

I am also most impressed by the Iranian reaction. I honestly think that they are making tentative steps towards finding an indigenous way of reconciling Islam with modernisation analogous to post-war Europe's Christian Democrat movement. I think we should get out of the mindset of regarding them as 'mad mullahs'.

Thankyou (4.00 / 6) (#3)
by Murfet on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 07:24:15 AM EST

Yes it is long, and I too recommend it. What an amazing article - the author seems to think its nice to have every fifth paragraph as a 'chorus', but its nice to have some first hand experience. From his story I can understand why there aren't many people telling us about Afghanistan first hand, and that this silence isn't necessarily a guilty one.

The first victim of war is truth, and the first thing a state needs to do to get its people fired up for war is to convince everyone the enemy is fundamentally evil. But evil is a simple thing, and in the most part details ruin the image - I think that articles like this are important to help distribute more details and less theology.

Btw, what reason do people have for modding this down? I'm a k5 newbie, so I'm just curious... is there some MLP 'culture' I'm missing? :)


"Perhaps the purpose of categorical algebra is to show that which is trivial is trivially trivial" P. Freyd
READ THE ARTICLE!! It is worth 5.0 (1000 votes) (4.60 / 5) (#5)
by yuri on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:11:16 AM EST

I spent about an hour reading this article last night (yes it is long) but it was worth every second. It is a first person account of the living situation in Afganistan, how it came to be, and what Afganistan needs to progress from the pen of a liberal Iranian filmaker. Nobody (connected to the western media) knows what life is like in Afganistan. This mans view is amazing.

Also, it was written before the NYC/Washington attacks and thus is not biased by those events.

Powerful stuff...Pulitzer material!

Please read it, you will not regret the time spent and you just may decide that carpet bombing Afganistan is not a solution to our problems.

Personally I think the Taliban have to go. Even if they hand over Bin Laden today we cannot trust them tomorrow. There are no easy answers to be had in Afganistan.


+1 FP

Read this! (5.00 / 5) (#6)
by driph on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:45:47 AM EST

A must-read for anyone wishing to discuss Afghanistan or the Taliban.

If you are at all interested in what is going on, hell, even if you couldn't give a damn, read this article.

Here's something I found particularly interesting, as I have not seen anything hinting at this on the news whatsoever:

Before Pakistani independence from India, Afghanistan shared borders with India and serious disputes ensued between the two over the Pashtoonestan region. The British drew the Durand line and divided the region between the two countries, on the condition that after 100 years, Afghanistan regain control over the Indian part of Pashtoonestan as well. Later on, when Pakistan declared independence from India that Indian half of Pashtoonestan became half of Pakistan. Since some six years ago, Pakistan, according to international law was supposed to cede Pashtoonestan back to Afghanistan...

...The Pakistan trained Taliban would naturally no longer harbor ambitions of recovering Pashtoonestan from their patron. No wonder the Taliban appeared just as the 100-year deadline drew to a close. From a distance, Taliban appear to be irrational and dangerous fundamentalists. When you look at them closely, you see hungry Pashtoon orphans whose occupation is that of a theology student and whose impetus for attending school is hunger. When you review the appearance of the Taliban you see the national political interests of Pakistan.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
Re: Read This! (4.50 / 2) (#11)
by superflex on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:17:00 PM EST

Yeah, that information completely took me by surprise. I see the cnn.com does point out that Pakistan is one of only a few countries with political ties to the Taliban government, and did play a role in the installation of the Taliban as the ruling organization. Not quite as much detail there, though, as what this very talented author/filmmaker points out. Kudos to the poster for sharing this with the rest of us.

I can't find the URL now, but last week I saw a poll on cnn.com regarding US military action against Afghanistan if they refused to cooperate regarding Osama bin Laden. I believe the options were:

(a) I don't support military action against Afghanistan

(b) I would support limited surgical strikes against bin Laden specifically.

(c) I would support full scale military action against Afghanistan

I wish the 58% of the respondants who chose (c) could read this piece first. The only thing that will come out of large scale strikes against Afghanistan is that the US will make martyrs out of thousands of starving Afghans, which isn't going to improve their poor image/reputation amongst countries in the region, which, let's be honest, is one of reasons why these attacks happened in the first place.

[ Parent ]

Pakistan and Pashtunistan (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by rsidd on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:57:02 AM EST

I didn't know this either -- but strangely, the very same day I first read this article, I saw the point about Afghanistan's claim to this area made here in the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn.

To quote:

"Historically Afghanistan's foreign policy posture has always been anti-Pakistan. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan's admission to the United Nations. It has never to this day given up its revanchist claim to the Pashtun-speaking areas extending up to the Indus river. The British enforced the Durand Line, which demarcated the border between British India (now Pakistan) and Afghanistan under a 100-year treaty which lapsed in 1993. Mulla Omar, often referred to as 'Pakistan's creation' has refused to discuss the extension of the treaty on the grounds that his country is at war with the Northern Alliance. However, there are signs that portend trouble in the future.

"Mulla Omar can wave a double-edged sword over Pakistan's head. If Pakistan's Islamic credentials are found wanting, for instance, for cooperating with the UN-appointed border teams for monitoring the observance of arms embargo on the Taliban, the gears of propaganda in the tribal homelands would be moved forward to show the government as lacking in Islamic spirit and character - a theme close to the heart of the right-wing religious parties."

[ Parent ]

How to fix the world's perception of Afghanistan (1.66 / 6) (#7)
by marlowe on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:39:29 AM EST

Put up a big sign that reads "UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT."

If Pakistan sees fit to invade Afghanistan with ground troops, I say let them keep it.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Perceptive Analysis and a Cry for Help (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by Wildgoose on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:30:09 PM EST

This article should be read by everyone currently urging war on Afghanistan. It is long, but it also rewards the reader with a greater understanding of the real issues than the simplistic examples presented to us by the media.

Pakistan's duplicity has already been mentioned above, but also consider the economic analysis of the problem the author presents. Whilst it is true that we need to eliminate bin Laden because his fanatical, murderous fundamentalism is too dangerous to allow to continue, we must also make a serious effort to solve Afghanistan's long term problems in order to solve our own problems.

After the Second World War the U.S. and U.K. supported the Marshall plan to rebuild the shattered economies of Europe. That is the kind of help Afghanistan needs right now - and it is a lot cheaper than repeatedly having to stamp out deranged terrorists.

Send troops with food. (3.00 / 2) (#9)
by orichter on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:35:37 PM EST

We need to send troops with food. We would convert them all, if they are starving.

Might work (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by BlckKnght on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:32:38 PM EST

This was my initial response too. I began writing a long story about how the US should take over Afghanistan and build infrastructure (like roads and dams). However I lost confidence in such a simple solution solution (and decided to post as MLP).

The trouble is that there's very little distinction between a benevolent invader and a hostile invader, from the perspective of the people being invaded. We might conquer Afghanistan only alienated the people we want to help. A couple of the comments in CitAnon's story story (which argues pretty much the position you summarized) point out that we had these kinds of good intentions going into the Vietnam war.

If we intend to invade Afghanistan, we will have to tread very lightly in setting up a truely broad coalition of nations to support us, especially with involving neighboring countries, none of which has been on very friendly terms with the US. Those neighbors are the Arab states Pakistan and Iran, the former Soviet states Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and (along a tiny border) China (a map of Afghanistan is here).

As for how we can get those nations on our side....

Error: .signature: No such file or directory

[ Parent ]
Somalia (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by K5er 16877 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:26:26 PM EST

That's essentially what we did in Somalia. bin Laden attacked us there too. And, by the way, our mission failed.

[ Parent ]
Great article, but some contradictions: (4.33 / 3) (#10)
by Mzilikazi on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:08:04 PM EST

I immensely enjoyed reading this article, as it gave some interesting and unique viewpoints on the entire Afghanistan sitution. However, there were some problems I noted...

Towards the top of the article, he says:

Even in TV productions worldwide there are a limited number of documentaries. Perhaps, it is an external and internal conspiracy or universal ignorance that maintains Afghanistan as a country without an image.

And then near the middle, he relates his own story of trying to film in Afghanistan:

We were silent for a while. Then I asked whether or not we could go to both north and south. The Taliban didn't agree. They are not too fond of journalists. I made a promise to only film those dying of hunger. Again the Taliban do not approve. I told them I need another invitation from the UN to re-enter Pakistan. Later, I received a facsimile stating that I had to go to the Embassy of Pakistan in Tehran. I was happy because before I had gotten a visa to Pakistan from the embassy to bring costumes for Kandahar from Peshawar.

He also makes a constant theme throughout the entire article about the rest of the world ignoring Afghanistan, but then goes on to state the following:

It is believed that some 180 international organizations are active in Afghanistan. They too avoid my non-political questions. Finally, I find out that they are in charge of a few tasks. One job is to distribute bread among the starving. A second is the struggle for exchanging of north-south prisoners and a third is to make artificial hands and legs for land mine victims.

He also makes a consistent theme of "The US was able to liberate Kuwait quickly, so why not Afghanistan?" The comparisons to Kuwait are not entirely valid--Kuwait had been invaded, and the US/UN/etc. restored the status quo. The standard of living in Kuwait was much higher before and after the invasion than at any point in Afghanistan during the 20th century. Kuwait's not perfect, but it's in much better shape than Afghanistan. Also, Kuwait is near the gulf, giving easy access via naval forces, and surrounded by countries that are considered allies of the west. Afghanistan is landlocked, full of mountains, and surrounded by countries that are historically hostile or indifferent to the west. And is an Iranian actually suggesting that we go in and take over the country, similar to what we did to Germany or Japan? I can only imagine what the backlash to that would be... Simply stated, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't, and regardless of what US foreign policy is (even if we sit at home and close our eyes and put our fingers in our ears and don't bother anyone else), half the world's going to hate us anyway...

Don't get me wrong, I found the article as a whole to be enlightening, but exactly how are the governments, media and relief organizations of the rest of the world supposed to really help Afghanistan when the Taliban is so resistant to their efforts?

Ignoring Afganistan (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by svampa on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 08:34:03 PM EST

I agree, there are some contradictions, and some "social theories" that are shown as facts

Any way, till this article I wasn't aware how people lives afganistan, I only knew it was a islamic country ruled by fanatics. And these facts have been known long time ago, and never has been shown in the main press.

More than this, now, after the WTC, should be shown instead of upsetting pratriotism and hate to afganistan.

It has been said, but I will say it once more. Great article!!. Everybody should read it !!

[ Parent ]
Article (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by K5er 16877 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:47:08 PM EST

Overly long, poorly constructed, bad grammer, strong use of equivocation, incorrect word choice, but, damn, its a good article. It's one sided from an Iranian point of view (especially the tie between Pakistan and the Taliban). Keep that in mind when you think about this man's words.

Bad grammer (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by gambuzino on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:36:54 PM EST

Overly long, poorly constructed, bad grammer

I haven't read the article yet so you might be right, but before pouring out criticism of this kind you might at least check your "grammer" or spelling.

[ Parent ]
Colloquial speech (2.00 / 1) (#16)
by K5er 16877 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 08:10:08 PM EST

My colloquial speech seems appropriate for a short, personal comment. This article's grammatical problems do not seem to come from converstional style, however. They appear to either be the result of a poor translation or a consequence of writing in a non-native language. Luckily for both the author and us, the article's grammer does not detract from its power or truth.

[ Parent ]
Bear with it. (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by Apuleius on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:29:07 AM EST

The guy's English is not up to BBC standards, and his piece is full of Iranian usages (like the repetitions), but bear with it.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
that's unfair (5.00 / 1) (#22)
by roy on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 05:15:08 AM EST

well, I would like to see you writing such a long and insightful article in HIS native language. Those with perfect writing skills in 300 languages throw the first stone!

[ Parent ]
So, here's the $10G question. (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by Apuleius on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:39:50 AM EST

According to Mr. Makhmalbaf, Afghanistan needs massive outside intervention to prepare for the modernization. According to Jason Elliot, an Afghan will follow a friend to Hell but cannot be dragged to heaven. So, how does the West or Iran do the road building and other work without a massive and probably futile war effort? Without this, Afghanistan will pour heroin into Iran, compounding Iran's own problems, and terror into the West, but with this, we have war. For some perspective, the haugtiness of the Shah's modernizer bureaucrats (the "massachusetti") was a major factor in his downfall.

His article also gives an insight into Bin Laden that is even more sickening. When adult Afghans starve to death all over, Bin Laden can't be bothered. The children, however, are useful to him so he funds the religious schools where they find the bread and soup they need. Afterward, they are useful as his minions. Now you can all pardon me while I go bash my head against the wall.

There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
very good, thuogh could be biased. (none / 0) (#21)
by dimaq on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:50:59 AM EST

the article is very good and insightful, although a little shallow at times (like "i'm only a film maker I don't wanna think any deeper") and possibly biased against Pakistan, or so is the impression I got.

Afghanistan: Limbs of no body | 22 comments (20 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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