Colombia, Afghanistan

Submitted by admin on Thu, 10/06/2016 - 02:25
Street art in Bogota
Street art in Bogota


Dear Friends,

The referendum in Colombia on the peace deal failed by a very narrow margin. My report - derivative of the mood in the country - appeared yesterday in The Hindu. The takeaway is in the last paragraph,

  • Gloom prevails across the country. If the vote had gone the other way, Colombia might have shown the world that even intractable civil wars can come to an end. It would have been a message to Syria and to the Congo, a message of the power of negotiation towards a new civic compact. But this did not come to pass. Even as President Santos and the FARC leadership try to maintain their optimism of a deal, the return of Mr. Uribe suggests that Colombia might turn its back on a real peace.

The report suggests why the referendum failed, and offers a sense of the path ahead. You can read it here.

The image above is from a wall in Bogota, with a drawing done by Dj Lu, the Banksy of Colombia.

Today, at Alternet, I have a report from Afghanistan. On 7 October, two days from now, the current US-NATO war will celebrate its 15th anniversary. The Taliban has made considerable gains across the country - from Helmand to Kunduz. It threatens the weak government, which has decided in the midst of this to embrace the repellent Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. I thought back to my conversation with the Afghan Communist Anahita Ratebzad (who died in Dortmund, Germany in 2014) about the years of the PDPA rule and attack on it from the West-Saudis-Pakistanis who lifted up people such as Hekmatyar to places of great prominence. His arrival in the Kabul elite - as in 1994 - signals a low point, with the Taliban ready to oust him from Kabul in 1996 and now. My reading of the morbid systems goes here,

  • It is too much to hope that a deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan would be sufficient to solve the problem. Decades ago, the West aligned itself with people like Hekmatyar to thwart the Afghan Left. Today, that Left is almost non-existent. It was wiped out ? sent into exile or killed ? and its memory is erased. The resources for Afghanistan to emerge out of the nightmare of its recent part are lessened by the absence of the forces of the Left. The social forces unleashed by the West, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have tormented Afghan society. This social transformation ? with the mujahideen as the pinnacle of Afghan patriotism ? took place with immense resources and over time. No countervailing force is available today. There might be windows of peace in Afghanistan, but there should be no illusion about any long-term stability and development. Anahita Ratebzad, the Afghan Communist, told me that the excision of the Afghan Left produced a society without the resources for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. When the Left governed the country women held seventy percent of the teaching jobs and fifty percent of the civil servant posts and forty percent. It might surprise one to know that in those days forty percent of the doctors in Afghanistan were women. It was the West that disrupted this positive dynamic. That it returned to Afghanistan in the name of liberating women is an obscenity. That Hekmatyar is back in Kabul and that the Taliban makes its gains across the country should not be seen as an indicator of some form of essential Afghan brutality. The fingerprints of the West and the Saudis are all over the social morbidity in Afghanistan. That there are no easy solutions should not be blamed on Afghanistan. People like Anahita Ratebzad, true Afghan patriots, had a vision for their society. If she were alive today, she would weep once more in anger for her country ? now fifteen years into the Global War on Terror.

You can read my report here.

Please visit the LeftWord Books blog. We have two superb new pieces - one byPMS Grewal on fascism and India and the other on P. Sainath's new story as part of his series on the Last Freedom Fighter. Come back for more and come back often.

At Counterpunch this past weekend there was a very sympathetic review of my new book by Ron Jacobs. Have a read if you'd like.