International Women’s Day: The U.S. Role in Repressing Afghan Women

This is International Women’s Day. And what was once my favorite news program, Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” (DN) was full of relevant coverage. One of the featured pieces was entitled “Stand up for Afghan Women”: U.N. Calls Afghanistan World’s Most Repressive Country for Women, Girls.” The piece lamented the sad situation plaguing Afghanistan’s female population.

By now the story has become familiar: women required to wear hijabs, girls excluded from schools, and both forbidden to drive cars, work outside the home, or to travel without male accompaniment.

And all of this decried by the United States government which is, we’re told, the champion of women’s rights not only in Afghanistan but throughout the Muslim world.

The problem however with that picture is that the last part is false. That is, far from being the champion of women’s rights in Afghanistan, the United States is the one ultimately responsible for their oppression in that sad country and elsewhere.

In effect, the U.S. is the creator of the Taliban which in 1992 overthrew the Russian-sponsored socialist government that beginning in 1973 freed Afghan women from the repressive restrictions just referenced.

More specifically, supported by the Soviet Union, the so-called “Saur Revolution” improved immeasurably the lives of Afghan women. It introduced progressive policies including land reform and mass literacy projects that benefitted both genders. Child marriage was abolished. Female dress codes were eliminated, freeing women to wear western clothing if desired.

Under socialism, formerly closed employment opportunities for women were opened in both the public and private sectors. Women were allowed to enter schools at all levels. They became university professors, government officials, doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, parliamentarians and more. In record time, women comprised 50% of the government’s bureaucracy, 70% of the country’s teachers, and 40% of its doctors. Sixty percent of the faculty at Kabul University (KU) were females. For the first time in Afghanistan’s history, women comprised most of the KU student body.

All of that was reversed by United States now familiar divide-and-conquer regime change strategies – this time in Afghanistan. Alarmed by socialism’s advance, Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski saw that Saur progressive reforms though popular in urban centers were not well-received in rural tribal areas. So, he decided to support the landlords, warlords, and religious mullahs there to work regime change in Kabul.

The assistance included the Carter administration’s arming and training Islamic fundamentalists (the Mujahidin) beginning in 1979.

That movement eventually drove from power Afghanistan’s progressive socialists (along with their Russian supporters) with their women-friendly policies. Eventually too, the Mujahidin morphed into the Taliban.

We know the rest of the story:

  • 20 years of U.S. occupation and bombing of Afghanistan
  • With the expressed intent of preventing the Taliban from returning to power
  • But leading directly to the deaths of more than 250,000 Afghans
  • With the same number of deaths caused indirectly
  • Including (between 2015 and 2019 alone) more than 26,000 Afghan children
  • Along with the creation of over 2.2 million refugees.

We also know about:

  • Last year’s chaotic U.S. departure from the country
  • The immediate return of the Taliban to power
  • And the subsequent application of U.S. sanctions
  • That are currently causing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that affects women and their children much more than the Taliban officials.

Everybody knows, of course, that all of this is intentional. The real target of U.S. sanctions is not the Taliban government. No, it’s all part of our government’s familiar regime change strategy aimed at making the lives of ordinary people (including women and children) so miserable that they will arise and overthrow their government.

We shouldn’t be fooled by any of it. Instead, (especially on this International Women’s Day),  we should face up to the fact that the United States government doesn’t give a damn about women’s rights either abroad or at home.

At home, its Christian Taliban wing led by its SCOTUS Catholics, Donald Trumps, Ron DeSantises, and Marjorie Taylor Greenes would entirely control women’s bodies and their reproductive rights from the exclusion of sex education to the outlawing of contraception and abortion. Remember that for more than 50 years, “America” has found itself unable to officially recognize that under the Constitution, women have the same rights as men.

In summary, while portraying Muslim-majority countries as inherently misogynistic, U.S. government propaganda and even news sources like “Democracy Now” ignore the fact that the United States was responsible for overthrowing Afghanistan’s progressive governments attempting to improve the lives of its women.

In other words, history shows that our government is as misogynistic as the forces it sponsors.

STOP THE WARS:Thoughts on Afghanistan

Lately I’ve been reading Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold Story of U.S. History. It’s a terrific read.  In fact, I gave hardback copies to all the members of my family for Christmas. The book’s final chapter on the Obama administration devotes lots of space to Afghanistan. In brief, here’s what it says:

There is no way the U.S. can “win” in Afghanistan. In fact, no one knows what “winning” might mean. That’s because the exact purpose of continued presence in Afghanistan is unclear. Originally, it was to dislodge the al Qaeda brain trust and fighters from the country. Now, we’re told, fewer than 100 such “terrorists” remain there. Most al Qaedans are now based in Pakistan. So the mission has morphed into preventing the Taliban from regaining control of the country. Most likely, the real reason for hostilities is Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources which are of supreme interest to multinational mining corporations.

In any case, the U.S. continues its military operations that impoverish not only the Afghan people, but our own country.  In other words, the United States is pouring vast sums of money down a rat hole – money that could be better used to address problems at home. It’s amazing that Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for austerity measures here while wasting trillions (!) there on a hopeless cause. If they truly want to balance the budget, STOP THE WARS!

For its part, the Karzai government is hopelessly corrupt. The would-be president was “elected” by a massively fraudulent process recognized as such by practically all observers. Graft constitutes the very purpose of seeking office in Afghanistan. Bribery is a way of life. Banking scandals involving Karzai’s relatives have rocked the country and enriched his family.  At one point, Karzai even threatened to join the Taliban.

Meanwhile, President Obama has lacked the courage and integrity to own his position as Commander in Chief and stop the war. Virtually everyone outside his hawkish Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and Generals Petraeus and McChrystal has advised him to do so. Yet Obama’s obsequiously deferred to the military brass at every turn, and has doubled down on a losing cause with troop surges and waffling on withdrawal deadlines.

All of this reveals the genius and success of Osama bin Laden’s strategy to repay the United States for its crimes against the Muslim world. The day after 9/11 bin Laden enumerated those transgressions quite clearly. They had nothing to do with “hating our freedom.” Instead he pointed to more than eight decades of the West’s exploiting the political economy of the former Ottoman Empire, to unqualified U.S. support of Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians, and to its desecration of Muslim holy places of Mecca and Medina by stationing foreign troops there following the First Gulf War.

Bin Laden wreaked his havoc in New York and in Washington’s Pentagon for a reported cost of $50,000. That’s what preparation and implementation cost to hijack those airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In response, the United States has fought two illegal wars at the cost of more than $4 trillion, bankrupting itself in the process. It has disgraced itself by violating international law in its refusal to prosecute the war criminals responsible for such atrocities.

The U.S. has also shredded its own Constitution by suspending habeas corpus, routinely violating the 4th Amendment’s protections against unlawful search and seizure, and claiming the right to execute even its own citizens without trial. Additionally, the United States has also lost any claim to its alleged “exceptionalism” by its practices of torture and rendition and by routinely employing brutal death squads in Iraq and Afghanistan and their remotely controlled counterparts in its programs of drone assassinations in at least five countries. In the meantime, bin Laden’s strategy has American soldiers killing themselves more efficiently than their al-Qaeda enemies.

In other words, on an investment of $50,000 bin Laden has brought the U.S. economy to its knees, undermined its self-confidence, defeated the U.S. military, and has ruined the reputation of a country once widely admired throughout the world. And the bleeding continues; the returns are still coming in. So much for the protection of “defense” budgets currently shelling out more than a billion dollars each day!

What to do about such suicidal madness? It’s as simple as one, two three: (1) STOP THE WARS.  (2) Reinvest in U.S. infrastructure and job programs the millions wasted each day fighting Afghanistan’s heroic people who polls show want the U.S. out of their country. (What we call “terrorists” are defending their own borders from foreign invaders and brutal occupiers. They are the very people our government organized and funded as “freedom fighters” when they were terrorizing the Russians with the same tactics now being used against U.S. troops.) (3) Reconfigure U.S. military policy, cutting the Pentagon’s budget by at least 50% so that its purpose becomes defending our borders rather than the interests of multinational corporations which couldn’t care less about the United States or its people.