Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Watching the Watchmen

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  • giovanni tiso,

    But I personally can't just shrug off the moral implications of, in particular, the fate of Afghanistan's women. You say "women's rights" like it's some Western affectation, but before the Taliban -- before 1996, that is -- they could work and walk the streets and learn to read. They were allowed to look out windows. It's their birthright too, and it really troubles me that it might be taken away again. It's a horrible, horrible moral choice.

    Remind me: who armed the Taliban in the first place? And who keeps buying their heroin? I think women's rights (as well as human rights more generally, including the right to remain alive) will remain a Western affectation so long as we refuse to see our historical and continuing role in ensuring that they be denied in the countries with the oil or the pipelines or the dope that we so badly crave. The "but we're doing good now" argument, self-serving as it is, must surely also be tempered by the question: why should they trust us? Why this time? And it turns out that some of them do but many of them don't, and with the money we give them they buy guns.

    Which is not to say that I see a way out, or even a lesser of many evils. But we didn't go in asking women's rights organisations on the ground what they thought of our plan (in fact, you might recall RAWA's outrage at photos from their publications being used as propaganda by NATO during the invasion). Let's not pretend it's what we're fighting for.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report

  • Craig Ranapia,

    which sure looks like a back-handed ill-wishing to me (and similar intemperate & inflammatory statements triggered me withdrawing from the PA System for a while last year) so I would understand Christiaan's response in kind...

    No, Ian. If I ever express a fervent wish for anyone's death in a car bombing 1) I'll be up front about it, and, 2) I'd expect a terse and richly deserved "your account has been deleted, fuck off and don't come back" note from Russell in very short order.

    And if I ever opine that, perhaps, there's people who really deserve to be killed, I sure hope someone would politely suggest that the rectum isn't designed to keep one's head warm and well-moisturised.

    Might actually be rather useful to keep in mind that those despised "informers" are every bit as human as the people maimed and killed in London by dozens of IRA bombs. You know, the Provisional IRA who regarded London as the capital of an imperial occupying power and their victims as casualties of war?

    Now if you'd excuse me, I've got to go figure out a way to call Hone Harawira a racist shitbag without losing my job...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report

  • DexterX,

    Thomas Jefferson said:
    "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."

    The problem with the print media going digital is that the print media fail to fulfil their most useful purpose - providing something to wrap rubbish in before it goes into the bin.

    I'm on the side of Wikileaks and the use of it by and in quality journalism is powerful, knowledge is power.

    Wikileaks is an illumination in darkness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Ian, pure brilliance of form and content, once again.

    Yes, innit.
    We are all humans and we all bleed, one way or another.It's 50,50 in every war, but bigger 50 for countries with big boys toys.
    War,what are we fighting for, because either way ,it feels wrong to be in someone else's country and telling them what they are allowed to do. The USA got all shitty when it was claimed that one man (actually invited for the family jewels) was responsible for causing mayhem to their shores. So retaliation was their answer, damm the consequences to all the women of Afghanistan, and damm the consequence of bringing down any of their buildings, and what are ya left with? Generation kill. (that could be a TV programme, oh... it is.)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • andin,

    four possible scenarios for the near future...

    Oh joy :-|

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Craig R- you may - or may not- find useful a post "Reading The Maps" has put up today...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    But who'd want to be the president who pulled out of Afghanistan and ushered in, say, a civil war in which half a million people died?

    Hmmm. Vietnam aftermath.....Hate to think...Dioxin....

    Seems we have moved away from the point of Russell's post. Wikileaks.

    As for just reading newspapers as a source for the "ignorant man", I for one will read them, then listen to the radio, then the TV, then any articles later on, then ......make a judgment from what I can figure out between all those lines. it is surprising how one can figure out a common thread that informs.

    But as for finding out what is REALLY happening behind the lines while the f*&king war is still going on, then I'm all for a wikileak to tell me.

    It puts a whole new perspective to the war. Just remember Colon Powell's address to the UN on WMD to justify an invasion and the subsequent info release form the pom who "dies" under the tree.

    Closer to home and relevant to the discussion: Two pertinent events Corngate and the Brethren. Thanks to Nicky we found out a wee bit of what was happening where "inscrutables" were trying to shape our perceptions.

    I'm sure we would have found out about it later eh? - Yeah right.

    War is hell. God is on our side and don't you forget it!

    And don't mention the f*&king gas pipeline either.

    Scruples? Like hell.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Prior to Taliban rule, women accounted for as many as 70 percent of teachers, and approximately 50 percent of civil servants.

    Would that have been under the Soviet-backed government?

    They achieved that by killing around 1.5 million (presumably mostly male) Afghans over 10 years, which makes a paltry few thousand seem positively beneficient.

    The Afghan men aren't going to accept liberal democracy without being forced into it with a degree of violence that we'd never stomach. All we're battling for is to replace a crazy nutjob theocracy with a mildly nutty theocracy. One that gives women a fair trial before stoning them to death, I suppose.

    I work on a simple principle: as an elector in a nominally democratic society, the actions of government servants, such as troops and policy are my moral responsibility. The actions of others, such as the Taliban, are not. The world is a nasty place, and the best countries like NZ (or the US for that matter) can do, is not make it any nastier.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Actually, Rich oOB, I think we have an obligation as thinking animals to help (where & when we can) other thinking animals...this includes a largish proportion of this world's mammals* not to mention many non- mammalian species.**

    Yeah, including women - (sarcasm sarcasm sarcasm wark warkwark alert!)

    *elephants, whales, dolphins, selenids,pigs, rats, for starters
    **parrots, crows, mynah, magpies, tui ditto-

    Please note: when I say 'thinking' for humans, I do not mean 'totally sane.' I have had the privilege of meeting many many sane humans - but I've met more than my share (or maybe not) of the other kind. By 'insane' I DO NOT mean people with Alzheimers or Asperger's or schizophrenics or anything like those conditions: I mean the predators amongst us, the 10% of humanity who are pyschopaths/sociopaths. Predators.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Kumara Republic,

    Alexander the Great failed, the British Empire failed, the Soviets failed, and now NATO seems to be failing in Afghanistan. Can civility ever come to Afghanistan? They'll probably be fighting outsiders - and amongst themselves - for years to come.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5446 posts Report

  • Cecelia,

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report

  • Islander,

    DeepRed - there are architectural wonders in Afghanistan. Civilisation has been & gone & come again, several times. Including Islamic civilisation.

    The people are not wholely 'to blame.' But I can really understand folk who totally resent outsiders imposing their view of what is right and proper for Afghanistan.

    And - as someone who *loathes* abrihamaic religions generally, but can see how certain elements can help humanity- I havent found any reason for the betterment of humanity within Afghanistan with the arrival of the Taliban. It's been sort of like the arrival of Calvin in Switzerland. Dire. Masculist. Belittling. Antihuman and very very toxic.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Islander,

    sorry - abrahamastic & masculinistic

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Rich of Observationz,

    If we *could* "help" and not make it worse, I might support some form of intervention in Afghanistan. There are circumstances where military force has worked, for instance the Falklands, East Timor or Uganda.

    But that's been where there's been a foreign invader or a small dictatorial group that didn't enjoy much (or any) popular support and could be removed from the scene. Radical muslims in Afghanistan are not such a group.

    There is also the aspect that there are now two groups in Afghanistan, those that support the Western occupation/colonisation/friendly support operation and those that violently oppose it. If there wasn't much of a civil war before, there will be once those groups are free to get at each other. The longer we stay, the more polarised society and the worse this war will be. (There are parallels here with the British plantation of Scots Protestants into Ulster).

    One could also consider that all Russell's arguments could be applied (even in retrospect) to Indochina. If the US had stayed and applied sufficient force, the Khmer Rouge could have been suppressed and the atrocities of the Pol Pot regime averted. However, they'd have been there indefinitely, at least until the collapse of the Soviets in 1979, or a nuclear war before that.

    Of course, Vietnam and Cambodia sorted themselves out after the US left and are now semi-democratic, reasonable civilised states. (Ok, Vietnam sorted Cambodia out, technically).

    So we can't help and should stop making it worse (see also British India, 1946).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report

  • Ross Mason,

    I mean the predators amongst us, the 10% of humanity who are pyschopaths/sociopaths. Predators.

    Oh you mean THESE guys.

    Hmmm....right in our midst too.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report

  • Islander,

    Very definitely those guys ...and (whimper) here. Right now. And not working for *our* future good.

    Pyschopaths - intelligent. Handsome. Winning personalities. Majorly male. Because, evolutionarily, however else would they survive? (given the, errrm, sideways damage? = the rest of us.)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report

  • Just thinking,

    Ian - I am seeing a new marketing ploy for peace-niks to fund raise.
    Your ANZAC bickie covered in chocolate and war nuts. (I'll buy them).

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report

  • Richard Ginnold,

    The 'muckrakers' in the US in the l9th and 20th centuries upset the seats of power, but brought to light and helped correct many injustices. The Carl Sandburg poem The Liars, tells us why we need Assange and his collaborators to defend us from The Liars.

    The Liars
    Carl Sandburg( excerpt)

    ' A liar is a liar and lives in the lies he tells, and dies in a
    life of lies... A liar lies to nations, a liar lies to the people...
    He is straight as a dog's hind legs. He is straight as a cork-

    The liars met where the doors were locked. They said to each
    other...Now for war...

    Across their tables, they fixed it up, behind their doors, away
    from the mob. And the guns did the job that nicked off millions.

    So I hear the People tell each other, when the Liars say its
    time, Take things in your own hands. To hell with them all,
    those liars that lie to nations, the liars that lie to the People...'

    It still takes common people to accept the truth and act on it.

    San Cristobal, Chiapas, M… • Since Aug 2010 • 1 posts Report

  • Christiaan,

    A small request: Russell/Craig, I apologise for being overly aggressive, but would you mind refraining from turning my "not much sympathy" statement into a "I wish they were dead" one? My point is the *potential* risk to informants is far outweighed by the need for the world to know that NATO is murdering thousands of people and keeping mum about it.

    I'm not quoting this to justify the abuses and lies of international forces. But I think it's glib to demand an immediate exit and not consider the consequences.

    Well I for one am not demanding this. The only people who have a right to this demand are the Afghan people.

    I just wish liberals would stop getting sucked into believing these invasions and occupations are about anything other than global dominance by a group of powerful people. Yes there're some shitty places in the world but it's largely up to the people in those places to make them better and its up to the rest of the world to try and engage them positively in a peaceful manner. Travelling half way round the world to bomb shit up, murder people and take their shit is one of the primary reasons there are shitty places in the world to live in the first place.

    What we learnt in the 1st and 2nd world wars is that if powerful states like the U.S. are allowed to continue into the future trying to dominate the rest of the world there eventually won't be much world left to worry about things like who you want to stick your penis in. Somebody is going to end up triggering a nuclear or biological clusterfuck, whether that's a powerful state or some justifiably pissed off individual (eventually when the technology is available).

    Public opinion is a powerful thing—maybe the only weapon we wield against the powerful—and it is this weapon that is consistently undermined, in large part, by liberals who spend their time pontificating about the humanitarian potential of wars that are designed to dominate.

    You know, the way we the Western world act, we're not all that different from the Taliban. The key part of our culture that we share is that we think we have the right way to live and that everybody else should live like us, even if at the end of gun barrel. If we ever blow ourselves back to the stone age I'm betting that it will be because we never managed to eliminate this diseased meme from our world.

    Portugal • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report

  • recordari,

    Christiaan I just read your post My mate the terrorist on your blog, and in comparison to your words here, it seemed kind of interesting, slightly humorous, and thought provoking.

    And yet, possibly due to the cornering you received above, you have the world being blown to oblivion by 'diseased' western imperialist force who is no better than the Taliban, who, you may recall, stoned to death Afghan citizens (including women and children) in the town square in front of baying crowds, within our life-times.

    It is widely acknowledged that America, particularly under Bush, has committed some pretty appalling acts during this 'war', but does it really compare to this?

    So while there is also a known undercurrent of global dominance of natural resources, I don't really give a shit, because allowing the persecution of any group of people on religious, gender or cultural grounds is no better than driving past a road accident without stopping.

    ETA: I thought there was a legal obligation for the first on the scene to stop at road accidents, but can't find link to substantiate it.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report

  • giovanni tiso,

    because allowing the persecution of any group of people on religious, gender or cultural grounds is no better than driving past a road accident without stopping.

    Yeah, but see, if I were inclined to be polite, I would say that this is bollocks. Firstly, because we drive past such road accidents all the time, all over the world, when they occur in less strategically valuable tracts of the highway. Secondly, because we caused the accident ourselves. Thirdly, because we didn't go in to save the women. Fourthly, because we're not staying there so that the women stay safe either. The discussion in the US Senate committee on foreign affairs on whether to committ further resources to the war (ie a surge), stay or go hinges on one objective, and one objective only: to limit the scale of the insurgency in Afghanistan so that it doesn't spread to Pakistan. That's the endgame. Nobody is talking about the women, whose welfare is not now nor has ever been part of the strategic equation. They only get mentioned to justify the war to liberals.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report

  • David R,

    I'm quite uncomfortable about the position (seemingly) being taken that we are there, or should stay in Afghanistan, to protect Afghani woman. By all means this is a worthy thing, however, lets be real about the motives for being there. The coalition went in to fuck shit up.

    New Zealand went in as part of our commitments to the UN and to the US. We are on the one hand sending in the SAS to kill and on the other sending in reconstruction teams to heal. It's hypocritical ( and completely immora l) and it makes anything improvement of the plight of the oppressed in Afghanistan a mere side affect of being there, looking to fuck shit up.

    AKL • Since Sep 2008 • 22 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Thank you David R. That is more how I see it too.

    .....looking to fuck shit up.


    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Christiaan,

    And yet … you have the world being blown to oblivion by 'diseased' western imperialist force who is no better than the Taliban

    Putting aside your inability to accurately restate my position, are you seriously suggesting that humans can merrily continue to war with each other without having to worry about a nuclear or biological disaster?

    I don't really give a shit, because allowing the persecution of any group of people on religious, gender or cultural grounds is no better than driving past a road accident without stopping.

    Let's get one thing straight, the people who prosecute America's wars do not invade, occupy and pillage other countries because they feel obligated to help persecuted women. Sheesh.

    I thought there was a legal obligation for the first on the scene to stop at road accidents, but can't find link to substantiate it.

    Actually there is a legal obligation for states to use violence only in self-defence. That came out of the lessons of WWI and II I mentioned above. It's called Article 51 and I have a link right here:

    By the way, you might also enjoy Ken's Hardtalk interview:

    Portugal • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    A friend just told me that, if I asked him who he was, he would say Afghani as an individual, As to the country, it is Afghan, which is the name of the people and istan is the place of living hence Afghan (people) istan (place).
    As you were.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

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