The rights of Palestine.

July 8, 2014

palestineisrael

The history of modern revolutions is one in which – more often than not – oppressive regimes are threatened and overthrown by the forces of self-proclaimed ‘liberation’ whom themselves become the new oppressive regimes. The Cuban revolution replaced the US backed heartless and brutal regime of Fulgencio Batista, with the vicious and oppressive long lasting Castro regime. The French revolution sought to liberate the country from the excesses of monarchy, and resorted to Robespierre’s reign of terror, swiftly followed by Napoleon. The US revolution attempted to enshrine the concepts of human liberty, and the pursuit of individual happiness and did so to a great extent, whilst the Founding generation held slaves and extended democratic rights to propertied white men only (John Adams; the nation’s second President, warned against extending the vote to women). It is for this reason – the replacement of one form of deep oppression with another – that I tend to be reluctant to support a Palestinian state under its current leadership.

As a blogger on secularism and religion, I’m often asked about my thoughts on the Israel & Palestine conflict and which side I find myself on. I’ve neglected to write much on the subject, because I find it a difficult question to answer, whilst simultaneously a simple question to answer. It is a particularly difficult and confusing subject, where the balance of my opinions change from week to week.

It is a difficult question – not least because whatever you say on the subject, someone somewhere takes great offence in a way that no other subject can elicit – because I understand the grievances of both. I understand that Israel is a nation surrounded by nations that wish it extinct, that rockets are fired daily across its borders (today, a rocket from Gaza was intercepted over Tel Aviv), that its establishment (whilst poorly designed and implemented) was the result of historical oppression from Russia to Germany including centuries of anti-Jewish bigotry spewed by the Catholic Church, Mahmoud Abbas’s constant reference to Israel as Muslim and Christian only, and that the Arab press is horrifically racist in its representations of Jewish people as rats controlling some sort of hidden global conspiracy. I understand the paranoia and suspicion driving Israeli policy.

Equally, I understand that the Palestinians have a perfectly reasonable claim to the land and I find it hard to disagree with a ‘right’ to return though recognise how completely unrealistic Israeli acknowledgement of that ‘right’ is to any settlement deal. I understand that recent Palestinian history has been marred by forced removal as well as fleeing in fear from land, their chaining to a strip in Gaza and treated as prisoners, the Israeli right wing who have nothing less than viciously racist views that dehumanise Palestinians enough to make awful policy in the occupied territories palatable. Netanyahu’s deliberately provocative statements in the past, that the Palestinians suffer daily not only from the threat of Israeli bombs dropping around them, but from being used as shields by Hamas, and that the ceaseless building of settlements is a daily provocation. Indeed the average Palestinian is stripped of their natural human dignity by the political squabbles of the fanatical religious leaders of both sides of the argument. Earlier this year, Wajih al-Ramahi – a 15 year old Palestinian boy – was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at the Jalazone refugee camp, for what seems to be no justifiable reason. This sort of crime – and the fear of this sort of crime – is a brutal reminder to the Palestinians that they are not free, and whose lives and liberty are to be treated as occupied and owned indefinitely by Israel.

However, It is an easy question, because my answer is; I take no side on this. I am critical of those who openly support Israel’s provocative policy of settlement development in the West Bank and defend their violent overreactions, and I am critical of those on the Western Galloway-left that are willing to abandon the principles of human rights, civil liberties, and freedom regardless of sexuality, faith, gender, belief and ethnicity if it means tacitly supporting any group that refers to itself as liberators fighting Israeli aggression.

I do however support the establishing of a state of Palestine. I feel I need to make that clear, because it seems that if you register concerns about the details of a future Palestinian state, you’re accused of abandoning the Palestinians in their fight for freedom, when in fact, the opposite is true. For the freedom of all Palestinians, the methods, and goals of their leadership requires thorough analysis and critique. To ignore those methods and goals, regardless of how oppressive they are, for the sake of supporting any reaction against Israel, is to abandon that freedom for a lot of Palestinians.

So, to be clear; my view is that the Palestinians have a right to be free, to self determination, to statehood, and to protection from oppression. That means all Palestinians, not simply Muslim, heterosexual Palestinians. The problem is, that isn’t what the Palestinian leadership has ever promoted. For that reason, it continuously amazes me just how willing Western ‘liberal secularists’ are to abandon their principles and overlook the stated goals and crimes of Hamas, in the quest to form a state of Palestine. The crimes of Hamas, are articulated by Amnesty:

“The human rights violations perpetrated … have included killings of fugitives, prisoners and detainees, injuries caused by severe physical violence, torture and misuse of weapons, the imposition of house arrest, and other restrictions that have been imposed on civil society organisations.”

– It is inexplicable given the circumstances, that anyone claiming to be of the left in the West, would support – in any form – the further enshrining of power for groups like Hamas. It cannot be considered an ‘ends justify the means’ situation – despite a lot of liberal secular Westerners claiming their reluctant support for Hamas is based on – because the end goal for Hamas is not a free state of Palestine, but a state as far removed from democratic, secular liberalism as possible. Indeed, Article (6) of Hamas’s charter notes:

“The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.”

– Throughout Hamas’s charter, are references to the region being Islamic by divine right, and their goal to ensure all in the region are tied to it. Hamas’s reason for being, isn’t to ‘free’ Palestine, it is to chain Palestine to Hamas’s interpretation of a single faith. Secular liberals cannot reasonably offer any support to Hamas given their aims, methods, and public declarations. Dr. Mahmoud Zahar, co-founder and senior leader of Hamas, described gay people as being:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– The rights of the LGBT community are not going to be protected in a Palestinian state with Hamas allowed a say in its foundation and constituting. Any defence of Hamas – any defence whatsoever – by those claiming to be secular or liberal, is an insult to those of us who are.

As well as Hamas’s goal being the subordination of the entire region to Islam, President Abbas tends to be just as provocative and hints at religious war for Jerusalem being an obligation on all Muslims when speaking directly to Muslims in Palestine (rather than an international audience, at which point, he advocates two states). For Abbas, this is a religious conflict. In 2010, on Al-Jazeera, Abbas said:

“I say to the leaders of our Arab nation and to its peoples: Jerusalem and its environs are a trust that Allah entrusted to us. Saving it from the settlement monster and the danger of Judaization and confiscation is a personal commandment incumbent on all of us.”

– Abbas is clear with his “Judaization” anti-Semitic rant; the land belongs to Islam. A revolution to replace one oppressor, with another. Jerusalem has of course been occupied by Jews, invaded by Christians, invaded by Muslims, and should in the 21st Century be open to all to visit and enjoy, not controlled by one faith. I find it impossible to support the establishing of a state whose leadership is infected by religious supremacists. If Hamas achieved their stated aims tomorrow, I would suggest that the tacit support for their cause and defence of their actions from those Western secular liberals over the years, would shroud any future complaints of Hamas’s human rights abuses in a deep sea of hypocrisy, by those who were willing to turn a blind-eye to atrocities and Hamas’s commitment to further abuses, pre-statehood. What good is an international liberal left, if it is only willing to voice concerns over the oppressive nature of a state, after it has facilitated the establishment of the same oppressive state?

The basic law established in 2002 as a proposed constitutional framework for a future Palestinian state and enacted by The Palestinian Legislative Council enshrines one religion, and binds all who live in the proposed state of Palestine, to that one religion in some form, whilst offering the impression of freedom for all. Its authors therefore have assumed for themselves the privilege of state supremacy for one faith:

“The principles of the Islamic shari`a are a main source for legislation.”

“Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine.”

“The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations.”

– This privilege for one faith cannot be an acceptable source of law making for anyone claiming to be a secular liberal. The implication is clear; a Palestinian state is to some degree an Islamic state. The two are to be considered inseparable. This is where I tend to part company with many of my fellow liberal secularists who seem unwilling to question, or worse, to offer tacit support to such a framework of state.

For me, Statehood must not precede human and civil rights, on a secular, liberal framework. Liberal, secular, civil rights and protections must precede statehood. The rights of all Palestinians – be they Muslim, Christian, atheist, Jewish, male, female, heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, Hindu, old, young – must be the starting point of any framework for statehood, with no privilege granted to any single faith.

Enshrining religion into the fabric of a new state brings with it human and civil rights abuses that are evident in the nations that enshrine Islam in the Middle East, and Christianity in Africa, regardless of assurances of “human rights protections”. In Jordan, the state inhibits the right to convert from Islam, does not recognise Baha’i marriages and the King has to be Muslim. In Lebanon (arguably the least oppressive Arab state in the Middle East), the right to legally change gender is prohibited, there are penalties for blasphemy, and Buddhists and Hindus are not allowed to marry. A Palestinian state must not enshrine the oppression of any group, must uphold civil rights with respect to belief, sexuality, gender, ethnicity and the basic right to expression and secular education. At the moment, the Palestinian leadership is far from a force for liberation, severely lacks respect for basic rights, and is extremely oppressive.

In 2012, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights released a report accusing the Palestinian Authority of:

“…inhumane practices and human rights violations.”

– In 2013, blogger Anas Awwad – a critic of the PNA – was arrested and charged with “extending his tongue” against the policies of the PA and President Abbas. Similarly, Ismat Abdul-Khaleq – a lecturer at a university in the West Bank – was arrested for criticising Abbas. Hamas enforced the wearing of the headscarf for all women entering government buildings. The Palestinian Education Ministry is run by Osama al-Muzayni, on his watch, schools in Gaza City have begun teaching children to speak Hebrew as the “language of the enemy”. The BBC found that at one schools in Gaza City, whilst the girls were quick to speak of the enemy of Israel and learning the language so they’ll know if an individual Israeli wishes to harm them, only one in thirty of the girls had actually met an Israeli. As well as not trusting the Palestinian leadership with the liberal and secular civil rights of all, I do not trust them with respect for free expression of the opponents of their policies, nor with the educating of vulnerable minds away from perpetual conflict and hate.

Palestinians are all who live on the land – regardless of gender, faith, ethnicity, sexuality, hair colour, eye colour – Palestinians are not a single religion or a single sect of a religion or a single history. Nor are adherents to one single religion inherently privileged above others. Nor is adherence to one particular religion enough to qualify those believers to legislate and punish others according to its dictates whilst enshrining their own privileg. For me it is simple; there can only be the illusion of human and civil rights, unless a constituted Palestinian state protects all, and privileges none. Palestinians have the right to self determination and a state of their own, with secure boarders and protected civil rights free from fear. Palestinians have a right to a state. Islam doesn’t.

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The Blue Eyes of Saudi Arabia

September 14, 2013

Try to imagine for a second how you would react, how you would feel, and how every day would be for you and your family, if you were born with blue eyes, in a Country that not only viciously stigmatised those with blue eyes as an unforgivable perversion against nature, but that nation also tortured, and sometimes executed those caught with blue eyes.

Try to imagine, if the basis for the hate directed at you for having blue eyes, was a 7th Century book of myths. That, because that 7th century book of myths told a story of a city that God burnt to the ground for being full of people with blue eyes, even though that story has no basis in historical fact, you would forever be linked with the inhabitants of that city, and considered the enemy of God, regardless of the content of your character.

The Saudi Arabia UN Delegation made this plea to the UN earlier this year:

“Moreover, the Human Rights Council in last June condemned the Syrian regime on the violations of the Syrian people human rights. Any delay from the international community to take action means more suffering for the helpless Syrian people helpless.”

– It would seem from the rhetoric that Saudi Arabia cares deeply for applying international pressure for the sake of human rights. But it is quite simple to turn this Saudi call for action in Syria for human rights abuses, right back around to face Saudi Arabia itself. And the Delegation would be correct; any delay from the international community to take action in Saudi Arabia over its horrific record on human rights, means more suffering for the victims of the crime family that currently rules that country.

One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– It seems almost as if this is an attempt at an ironic art work. Because for a faith that believes their Prophet flew on a very fast magic flying horse to heaven and met Jesus, to claim to be able to speak confidently on anything pertaining to ‘sound nature’ is either an ironic art work, or the start of the most hypocritical speech in religious history. When it comes to the “unnatural”… religions have that one covered almost exclusively.

Either way, that one nasty paragraph – that completely misunderstands ‘sound nature’ – should be enough for those who profess to believe in the cause of social justice and human rights, to focus the majority of their time and efforts on freedom for Saudi Arabia. Currently, students are banned from school and university, if they are suspected of being gay. It isn’t just intense and violent homophobia today in Saudi Arabia that is the problem, it is the systematic attempts to instill into the vulnerable minds of children, that hate is acceptable. It is an attempt to poison those vulnerable minds with violent witchcraft and the acceptability of oppression rather than universal rights and biological fact.

For some odd reason, we do not treat this blatant abuse of the most fundamental rights, in the same way we would if we were to exchange the word “homosexuality” in the above, to “having blue eyes“. Both are part of a natural spectrum that we have no control over, and yet they are treated completely differently, despite being very similar. I would suggest that if the above paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks were to specify punishment for those with blue eyes, instead of homosexuality, there would be far more outrage both for the country in question, and the faith that spawned it. Here:

“Having blue eyes is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for persons with blue eyes, is death. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that those with blue eyes are to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– This paragraph, if enshrined into a Nation’s law, should not shock us anymore than when it said Homosexuality, and yet I am certain that it would. The ‘companions of the Prophet’ would be ignored as a product of their time not to be taken seriously today. I am certain that the World would act to ensure that a scientifically as well as historically untrue basis for such a law, were thoroughly discredited and pressure exerted to ensure the law never made it to any statute book, as a grave abuse of basic human rights.

But, when it is applied to homosexuality, it is often dismissed as a “cultural” difference by cultural relativists whose respect for the dignity of life and individual rights, are not universally applied and must come second when considered alongside violent Theocratic considerations. Tradition seems more important than rights. As if tradition and ‘cultural differences’ are an acceptable excuse for the fact that in the year 2000, Saudi Arabia executed three Yemen men for what it deemed the:

“…obscenity of homosexuality and imitating women.”

– By ‘imitating women’, I’m guessing they don’t mean having to cover everything with the exception of hands and eyes, and another male having ‘guardianship’ rights over her, like a piece of property, nor married off to dirty old men at the age of 9.
In 2005 over 100 men were arrested and sentenced to flogging for:

“behaving like women.”

In 2002, three men were beheaded for being gay.
In 2007, two gay men were sentenced to 7000 lashes, for being gay.
– However we dress it up; this is torture and murder and it is a flagrant disregard for even the most basic of rights; to life itself. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Religion does not prevent homosexuality, just like religion would not prevent blue eyes. Because religion has no explanation for nature. It has unsubstantiated, tribal myths, and nothing more. And when nature outgrows religious explanation, religion resorts to violently repressing nature, instead of looking inward and accepting it might be the faith that is flawed.

Gay Palestinian men often risk their lives fleeing into Israel, where they feel far safer and respected, than in the deeply illiberal, Theocratic Palestinian territories. According to a BBC World Service Outlook report, one man fled Gaza to Israel after his family found out that he was gay. The man said that police in Palestine had beat and tortured him.

In 2011, police in Afghanistan publicly humiliated a man dressed in women’s clothes. The victim is seen on film with eyes tearing up as the officers humiliate him. The man says:

“Please have mercy, don’t make fun of me.”

In 1998 in the southern town of Kandahar, the Taliban ordered three gay men buried, with their heads sticking out of the ground, and a wall pushed on top of them by a tank… for the crime of being gay.

The Iranian Constitution states:

“Sodomy is a crime, for which both partners are punished. The punishment is death if the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting; the method of execution is for the Shari’a judge to decide.”

– Imagine the international backlash, if that Constitution noted that “having blue eyes is a crime“. This constitutional addition has lead to 4000 gay men and women stoned, hanged, beheaded, thrown alive from tall buildings, and set on fire, as legally sanctioned punishments for being gay in Iran. But, because the precedent is set in certain Hadith, for some odd reason it takes on a form of respectability and credibility that those who aren’t Muslim, seem to feel must be respected to a degree. Why? It isn’t acceptable, and the words and deeds of religious figures that give these punishments the life they have, are also completely unacceptable.
One Hadith in question is particularly grotesque and must be condemned as such:

“Narated By Abdullah ibn Abbas : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”

– If God creates people who happen to be gay, or who have blue eyes, and then demands stigmatising and punishment for those people, it is extremely problematic to label this God anything but a being that enjoys playing violent games with human lives, like rearing ants so that eventually you can point a ray of burning light through magnifying glass at them, and still demand that those tortured ants worship you for such ‘mercy’. This is a cruel Being with no redeeming features.

Secondly, there is no Qur’anic law or rule demanding the murder or torture of gay people (A similar thing cannot be said for the Bible). We could of course point to Sodom – in both the Bible & Qur’an – but, given that no evidence has ever surfaced to suggest this story is based in fact; it’d be like using Narnia for evidence that kids and lions make excellent rulers. And so if any law comes from the (completely unsubstantiated; as all Hadith are) words or deeds of the Prophet, I’m afraid those Muslims who endorse such man made laws, that in no way relate to the Qur’an, are guilty of a sort of idol worship, which of course is a grave sin for that particular faith. It is only through completely unreliable Hadith – reflecting the prejudices and scientific, and social ignorance of the time and place, along with the imperial structure of that particular time and place in history – that gay men and women in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic nations are persecuted so horrifically.

Whilst every move Israel makes is remarked upon, condemned, and watched with an unmovable eye from both Western Muslims, and a vast portion of those on the Galloway-Left whose ‘cultural relativist’ position is strangely less active when it involves Israel; the most vile regime in Saudi Arabia quietly carries out public lashings, torture and executions of anyone who doesn’t fit its very narrow vision of what it’s 7th Century book demands, with very little real anger from the rest of the World.

My position is quite simple. If your religious text claims universal and timeless truth, upon which it advocates death for any natural trait, be it homosexuality, or blue eyes… your religious text should not be taught to children, should not be allowed to influence policy, should be criticised, shamed, and satirised at every possible opportunity, and deserves not a single shred of respect. Any Nation that puts that text into political practice, must be the focus of united international condemnation from those who claim to have even an ounce of respect for the dignity of human rights and social justice. There is no acceptable excuse for the torture, and murder of anyone with blue eyes.


My thoughts on Iraq and the Left

August 5, 2011

The French Revolution was a noble cause. Its goal was freedom from absolute tyranny. The shackles of Monarchy were being swept away for the sake of the enlightenment ideals of political and social rights. The cause itself was right. The methods were sometimes disturbing and wrong. The means cannot be justified regardless of the ends. Yet the ends were a noble ideal, as set out in La Fayette’s declaration of rights (though largely influenced by his friendship with Jefferson). This is how I see the Iraq war. I do not oppose the war in principle. Much of the means have been wrong, and thoroughly unnecessary, but the goal remains the right one. Political and social rights for a long oppressed people.

It seems a little odd to me that a majority of my fellow Left Wingers would oppose the Iraq war whilst the Left Wing inside Iraq has been struggling for years to firstly stop being prosecuted and systematically murdered, and secondly to get heard. There was no left wing march on London to protest the wiping out of 100,000 Kurds, or the killing of 90,000 Shi’ites. Iraq under Saddam was not that different to Kosovo under Milosovich, or Rwanda under the Tutsis. Iraq was a multi ethnic society, in which the minority ethnicity held the power, violently. Genocide is a term that can be applied to Iraq. Where were the anti-war protests, the pro-humanitarian righteous calls for Saddam to be tried for war crimes? It is almost shameful to abandon the cause of the international Left – deciding they are in a different Country, so not important – for the sake of a manic anti-Americanism stance. The cause of the international Left, is the cause of all Left wingers.

Expecting a legitimate and entirely free, well run election, in a country that has no real democratic infrastructure, in its first years, is madness. But it is a small step on the right course. I characterise the 2009 Iraqi election as a symbol more than anything. I say it was a symbol, because for a country whose citizens had been oppressed from a crime family for the past thirty years, to suddenly, at the legislative level, have thousands of women contesting electable seats is a massive achievement in itself. 75% of the parties standing candidates for election, were brand new parties. Also, in 2009, the multinational force in Iraq played no part in the security of the election process, which was presided over for the first time (an achievement, surely?) by the Iraqi security service. In 2005 elections there was no public canvassing for votes. In 2009, there was. Another achievement surely? And another symbol of the way things are, and should be going. The 2009 election, whilst it included violence and corruption unquestionably, it was also an improvement on 2005. 8 candidates were killed in 2009. 200 were killed in 2005. Suddenly displaced people and prisoners were given a vote. It is a big symbol for Iraq, and in fact for that region on the whole, given its centrality. Whilst the election took place under occupation, I cannot see it as anything but a step (albeit a small step) in the right direction. People who had been excluded from the political process for decades, suddenly having a say, is not a bad thing. And if anyone (including those of us on the pro-war side) thought the people of Iraq, after 30 years of Saddam oppression and frankly, a century or more of being played with like pawns, by the West, were suddenly going to march to the polls, in the same spirit as the democratic process in the UK, and expecting no violence or attempts to sieze power during a time when the country is essentially, new, they are delusional. The necessary infrastructure was not destroyed during the invasion itself, it was absolutely dismantled under Saddam. Said Aburish’s book “The politics of revenge” speaks of this.

The problem, as I see it, with early elections in deeply unstable countries like Iraq, is whilst continued US presence is not all that helpful, it seems to be true that if there is no real strong UN/US presence, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that the country will fall into the hands of anti-democratic forces again. Shia and Sunni parliamentary groups are slowly figuring out how to work together, which is far more essential than a strong UN/US presence, to prevent the country sliding into civil war, but it isn’t quite there yet. On this point, I am in two minds. I do think a strong UN/US presence is necessary in the early years, to provide support for a fledgling democracy against the plethora of groups that would like to install a new anti-democratic, anti-western, violent regime, which whether we like it or not, will always result in new tensions and aggression from the West again; but at the same time, we see the result of US presence with the democratic process in Afghanistan, and that leaves a lot to be desired, even though to pull Western support entirely from Afghan, would almost certainly lead to a renewed Taliban insurgency and a take over of government again, which is not helpful at all. So I certainly don’t see this as black and white. I simply think it is far too complex a situation, which many on the anti-war left tend to forget.

To have listened to the advice of the anti-war Left for the past twenty years, we would now have had a Milosovich who succeeded in Bosnia/Serbia. Kosovo would have been ethnically cleansed. Saddam would still be in power. The Taliban would be more powerful than ever. Iraq would have been a repeat of Rwanda – a campaign that never happened, I presume to the delight of the anti-war left. The anti-war left therefore, should horribly ashamed of themselves. I would be ashamed to align myself with such thoughts. It is important to note, their objection was not in the way the war was handled, or in the doubtless in-competencies of the rebuilding effort. Their objection was the principle of going to war against a leader whose country had been described as one big concentration camp. How they justify that objection, from a left wing perspective, is beyond my comprehension i’m afraid. They hold up peace signs, whilst people are raped and tortured to death. They say “War is terrorism” whilst they fellow left wingers are brutally murdered. It is the height of ignorance and betrayal.

They tend to complain that America supports dictators around the World (which America certainly has unjustly done), but then they lose my support when they complain when America takes the opposing view and tries to rid a Nation of a dictator. I absolutely welcome the change of policy from tacit support to regime change of notoriously criminal regimes.

I am not sure where the anger lies? In the war itself; which to me seems like a military operation to rid the World of one of the last and most vicious dictators of the 20th Century, create a Federalised democratic process to try to address the many cultural differences, which surely cannot be morally unjustified, given that the old ways certainly didn’t work. Or in the way the reconstruction was handled and the failure to plan for the influx of extremists aided by Iran and dedicating their efforts to destroying any form of infrastructure. The former, as i’ve pointed out, was hardly an act of unprovoked aggression when – when you glance back over the past thirty years, you see an Iraq that had been torn apart, its people savaged, tortured, raped and murdered, and endless UN resolutions disobeyed and just plain pissed on, Saddam’s funding of Palestinian suicide bombings against Israel and the awful consequences that the Kurds had to face for wanting independence. The reconstruction, was surely execute poorly and our continued forceful and at times disturbing presence (Abu Ghraib comes to mind) simply acted to provoke sectarian violence, but if we expected a long oppressed people to suddenly become the beacon of freedom, and weak infrastructure not to be the target of those who wish to assert another dictatorship over Iraq; we are hopelessly naive. Though surely we’d agree to the following points:

  • Saddam was evil. On the level of evil as Milosovich and other 20th Century dictators.
  • Iraq is better off without Saddam.
  • Building a new Nation on the grounds of a failed State will take time, but is worth it.
  • Taking a State out of the hands of Islamic extremists is in the interests of all of us.
  • Leaving Saddam in place, would only have required intervention at some point in the future, given that he’d spent ten years disobeying all UN resolutions.

    There are also profound questions we need to ask:

  • Were we right to have left Saddam in power after he left Kuwait?
  • Were we right to put sanctions on the Country which no doubt contributed to the suffering of the people?
  • And if we were right in both of those questions, should we have left him in power in 2003 and just kept up the sanctions?
    If you answer yes to all of those, then I am afraid you and I deeply disagree.

    There is a will among anti-war Left, to make sure nothing of any positivity be mentioned in regard to the Iraq war. If there is a rational argument presented for the Iraq war, it is ignored, because it might contradict a deeply held anti-American, anti-Blair view. If any of us dare to mention that we supported the War, support the democratic aftermath, and think it a war, much like Kosovo, to be proud of, we are vilified, especially if we are on the Left. If we were on the Right, our support for the War could be attributed to a dumb, Fox News Watching populace who cannot help but see America as a great Nation dedicated to the pursuit of freedom. As it happens, I am very critical of American foreign policy. There reluctance to involve themselves in Rwanda disgusts me. Reagan’s support for Right Winged terrorists and manic dictators throughout Latin America, disgusts me. But Afghanistan and Iraq have always been issues of contention for me. I never knew where I stood. Now I do. I absolutely, unequivocally support both wars. As a left winger, I support both wars for humanitarian reasons; because Iraq is far better off without the Saddam regime, and Afghanistan is far better off without the Taliban regime. Stability and security is a matter that has been rife with incompetence from coalition, but it will take time. I am of the belief that a democratic Iraq is achievable, and far more preferable to the population (look at the last election results) than a Sunni or Shia sectarian dictatorship; a dictatorship that was absolutely Fascist in its governing, and no less evil than Milosovich’s Kosovo.

    The anti-war marches always seemed a little ignorant and Nationalist in sentiment, to me. There is a whole host of hypocrisy involved too. One wonders where those Western Muslims who insist on supporting their “brothers” and “sisters” in Iraq against “Western Imperialism” were when Saddam was allowing mass executions, genocide and rape to take place. They seem to have only discovered this sense of brotherhood, after 2003. Shameful.

    The calls for Blair to be sent to the Hague – questions arose in my mind…. why? Why should he be tried? What evidence do you have that the Prime Minister, like Milosovich, wished to wipe out Iraqi civilians, and send thousands of servicemen and women to their deaths? Oil? Really? Couldn’t we have saved the trouble and struck a deal with the Saddam regime, in return for aid or the lifting of sanctions? Because he hasn’t said sorry for dead soldiers? Neither did Churchill…. and I challenge you to tell an Iraqi who was held at a Baathist underground torture prison, as seen here, having his eyes gorged out, that Saddam wasn’t as bad as Hitler. What use is a left wing if it turns its head to social injustice on the basis of an abstraction like Nationality and distance from the injustice? It is as if the protesters were not too bothered by the horrific crimes against humanity administered by the Saddam regime. As if they were not too fussed that before Saddam, Iraq had an economy that surpassed Portugal and Malaysia, and after Saddam, it was one of the poorest nations on Earth. They didn’t seem to care much that in 2002, the UN issued a warning against Saddam, accusing the regime of:

    systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

    … it is as if the international Left would rather have stayed out of the conflict, and the obvious humanitarian crises and years of genocide, for reasons simply to do with Nationality. It wasn’t “our” problem. As if humanity is not one species. It is like saying “The red headed man is punching his red headed wife….. I wont help, because i’m not red headed, so it doesn’t concern me.” The continuation of the Baathist regime cannot be justified by those of us on the Left. It was an abomination. It represented an imperialism imposed by religious extremism, resulting in poverty, oppression, institutionalised rape and genocide. We also cannot ignore the ten years worth of warning the UN had given to Iraq.
    The UN demanded that Iraq put a complete halt on:

    summary and arbitrary executions… the use of rape as a political tool and all enforced and involuntary disappearances

    I cannot bring myself to say that a war that toppled a man who used rape as a political tool, was using widespread and “extremely grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law“, was wrong or illegal.

    Under Saddam thousands of Communist Party members were tortured and killed. Husain al-Radi, the leader of the Communist Party and exceptional painter/poet was tortured and killed after the 1963 Baathist coup.

    Under Saddam, the worst chemical attack in history took place. 1988, against the Kurds, the Halabja massacre, in which 5000 people died, 10000 more injured, and thousands more suffering birth defects every day. I implore you to imagine walking down a street in Halabja that day, and watching as thousands of people going about their every day lives choked to death; children’s skin burning and blistering, screaming in pain, before they dropped dead. One thing is for certain, most of the anti-war Left would be calling for Saddam’s head to be bought to London and stuck on a pole in the Tower of London, had he done the same thing in London. For a powerful Western Nation to sit back, and allow it to happen, is immoral. To support inaction, in my opinion, is a war crime.

    Guy Dinmore of the Financial Times was stationed 14km outside of Halabja, and recalled entering the town after the attack:

    It was life frozen. Life had stopped, like watching a film and suddenly it hangs on one frame. It was a new kind of death to me. You went into a room, a kitchen and you saw the body of a woman holding a knife where she had been cutting a carrot. (…) The aftermath was worse. Victims were still being brought in. Some villagers came to our chopper. They had 15 or 16 beautiful children, begging us to take them to hospital. So all the press sat there and we were each handed a child to carry. As we took off, fluid came out of my little girl’s mouth and she died in my arms.

    – Knowing that the President of a country is capable of such an atrocity, to demand Blair’s head on a plate simply for a “45 minute claim” that may or may not have been exaggerated, seems beyond petty.

    Under Saddam vast environmental damage was caused in Kuwait, when Iraqi forces retreated from their invasion of Kuwait, and set land minds in the oil fields after setting the oil fields on fire. The fires raged for ten months, creating an environmental disaster, deep respiratory problems for Kuwaitis ensued. The land and the wildlife of the surrounding region was destroyed. Where were the protesters in London? I guess they were at petrol stations, wondering why their petrol cost was increasing, on their way to a shopping mall, whilst 6 million barrels of oil a day were burning in Iraq and causing a humanitarian and environmental crises. The international Left should have been acting to oust Saddam then and there.

    Yanar Mohammed, the Iraqi Feminist and head of “Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq” moved back to Iraq after self imposed exile for fear of her life, after the invasion by coalition troops. Her group now fights against sexual slavery and forced prostitution. It provides safe houses for victims of domestic abuse and those threatened with honour killings. She claims to have saved 30 women from honour killings. Under Saddam, those 30 killings would have taken place, and there would be nowhere for victims of domestic abuse or sexual slavery inside Iraq to turn to. At Saddam’s trial, a woman who didn’t wish to be identified testified against the Dictator, stating:

    “I was beaten up and tortured by electrical shocks, I begged them, but they hit with their pistols. They made me put my legs up. There were five or more, and they treated me like a banquet.

    The woman was 16 at the time.
    Yanar Mohammed is pushing for the de-baathistisation of the Country’s attitudes to women. Another step in the right direction, and a signal that Iraq is far better off without Saddam or the Baath Party. The international Left should be recognising people like Yanar Mohammed and helping her cause, rather than focusing on endless criticism of America.

    Azzam Alwash is the director of “Nature Iraq“, the Country’s first and only Environmental organisation. He is working to restore the marshes of Southern Iraq. The beautiful region, full of wildlife and natural wonder, considered by some to be the “cradle of civilisation” and the Garden of Eden, was destroyed by Saddam. The Marsh Arabs had supported a Shiite uprising against Saddam in the early 1990s. The marsh Arabs had lived in floating huts on a plethora of canals that were divided between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Saddam had thousands of the marsh Arabs tortured and killed, and their livestock slaughtered. The huts were burned, and the water was poisoned. As many as 500,000 fled the attack. Land mines were placed in and around the marshes to make sure no one would go back. For centuries the marshes of Southern Iraq were teeming with wildlife and aquatic life. After 1990, it was baron, drained, poisoned, and covered in land mines. The UN in 2001 named it as one of the greatest environmental disasters of all time. Alwash intends to re-flood the marshes and restore the wildlife. This would not have been possible under Saddam. Alwash would most likely have been tortured and killed for even suggesting it. The south was one of the places that the Iraqi people were delighted to welcome coalition troops in 2003.

    America has always influenced Iraqi affairs. They helped empower Saddam. They trained and armed Iraqi soldiers against Iran during the conflict in the 1980s, by making it easier to transport weapons by arbitrarily removing Iraq from the “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. The US miserably abandoned their Kurdish allies in 1975 leading to genocide (the abandonment of the Kurds is the moral indignation that should lead to US Officials – in particular, Kissinger – tried for war crimes, not 2003). There were, as far as I can tell, only one way the Americans could put right their continued involvement in Iraqi affairs; topple the dictator, install a democratic process, leave. And whilst the process was at times incompetent and at other times absolutely abhorrent, the goal is the right one.

    Interestingly, a poll of 2737 Iraqis interviewed by ABC News with the necessary field work conducted Oxford Research International of Oxford, found that 78 percent of Iraqis reject violence against coalition forces, although 17 percent — a sixth of the population — call such attacks “acceptable.” One percent, for comparison, call it acceptable to attack members of the new Iraqi police. This to me suggests that whilst people in Iraq may have tired of coalition forces during the war, they respected the new Iraqi police force and the rule of law set by the new Iraqi State. Also, forty percent of Arabs (who make up 79% of the population) supported the presence of coalition forces in 2005, compared with 82 percent of Kurds. Of the entire population, 48% said the invasion was right, whilst only 39% said it was wrong. And whilst the media and the anti-war Left like to imagine that life is impossible now for Iraqis, the poll found that 70% are happy with their lives now, 71% expect their lives to improve in the coming years, and only 19% say they are worse off after the war than before. Only 15% said that coalition forces should “leave now” (this was 2005). 36%, the majority, said coalition forces should leave once a stable Iraqi government is in place. Now, short of providing their own evidence to the contrary, I would expect the anti-war left to insist that the research is coalition propaganda, at that point, I cease to listen to them.

    To conclude, I tend to question popular sentiment as much as possible. Call it a need to argue. So when my own political allies on the Left come to a conclusion that seems a little drastic (Send Blair to the hague for war crimes, for example), I tend to want to look into the arguments further. On Iraq, I disagree profoundly with the vast majority of the Left. I also think they have betrayed their desire for superior investigative journalism, by attaching their reasoning to the claims of Gilligan, which I shall discuss in more depth tomorrow. The Left should have mobilised against Saddam and called for his overthrow years ago. They should have stood shoulder to shoulder with groups fighting for freedom in Iraq. This, they failed to do. They abandoned the international cause of the Left, for the sake of rabid anti-Americanism and a desire to see Blair in prison. Their objections on the whole, came down to national allegiance. And most will start their argument with “Yeah, I know Saddam was an evil dictator but…“. To me, that is where their argument has fallen. It is a hopelessly flippant statement that deserves absolutely no respect. From the comfort of a Western perspective, in which we can think what we wish without worrying our neighbours may be spying on us, and that we may be tortured or murdered at any second; to say Saddam was evil, is just words. Meaningless words. From a privileged and relatively free Western perspective, where we are not forced to demonstrate our loyalty to our leader on fear of torture, or made to watch and applaud the execution of our family members, we know nothing, we cannot imagine the horror of living day by day under such an oppressive regime, we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of the Kurds, the Shia and the Marsh Arabs. In Iraq, the biggest threat was not American imperialism, it was a regime that was absolutely beyond evil. Evil is a word that cannot be applied easily, but the Saddam regime was evil. To suggest we understand at all, and to still oppose the war, represents a deep betrayal of the principles of social justice on which the left is built. What good is a left that has resigned itself to arbitrary National borders? To speak of “we” as a collective nation, rather than “we” as a movement for social justice, represents an appalling betrayal of our principles. The anti-war Left (many of whom struggle to place Basra on a map) should be ashamed.

    It is true that Iraq now is a hotbed of sectarian violence and terrorism, but it is improving. It cannot be expected to become a peaceful democratic state so quickly, after suffering so many years of oppression. I assert that the war was the right course to take, the rebuilding effort is going to be long and dangerous but it sets the correct course for the future of Iraq, and tomorrow I will expand on this further.


  • The Afghanistan problem and the anti-war Left

    July 30, 2011

    There is an inclination on the Left (especially the Student Left) to be manically, and irrationally anti-war. There is no room for movement. They will call for Blair to be tried for War Crimes (here is a wonderfully simplistic sight, that calls Blair a monster). They will show the bodies of innocent people killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and demand Blair and Bush be hung for crimes against humanity, yet oddly they don’t wish to draw the same conclusion with Churchill, or Roosevelt; allied bombers are responsible for far more civilian deaths during World War II. Therefore, they are absolutely irrational, selective, and living in a dream World. They are patently anti-war. A man could be stabbing you, and they’d insist on “understanding” the differences, culturally, between the two of you, and then working on a diplomatic solution. Their determination to continue irrationally, and hijack the Left Wing, so that it encompasses anti-war into its way of thinking, is a veritable insult to those of us on the Left who are far more practical and logical, taking each conflict that arises as requiring different solutions, and that sometimes, war is the only way.

    If you read Tariq Ali of the Stop The War group, he seems to completely exonerate Pakistan of any wrong doing, and put all blame for any problem in Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the door of America. It thus perpetuates the myth that religious evil persisting on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the support for that evil from the Pakistan ISI is somehow a problem we should “understand” at the very best, and just ignore at the very worst.

    One must wonder if they think the lack of force used against the Interahamwe in Rwanda, was the right course of action, given that it was peaceful yet resulted in a genocide.

    I absolutely support the war in Afghanistan. I think it’s a long term war, against an enemy that is relentless, and happy to use their own bodies to kill anyone who does not follow their religious doctrine. Had I been Prime Minister in 2001 after 9/11, i’d have made the same decision as Blair. Had I been Prime Minister in 2003, when all the intelligence was pointing to Saddam having WMDs, and the fact that he’d been obstructing Weapons inspectors, and had already broken well over 10 UN Resolutions, I’d have gone into Iraq too. People who will use religion as a justification for declaring war (which they did on 9/11/2001) should be hunted down on every corner of the Globe, and eliminated. We should not be taking their cultural ideals into consideration. Believe whatever you wish, but when your belief is enshrined in violence, your belief deserves to be wiped off the face of the planet. Believe in Fascism if you wish, but the moment you try to spread your vile system using violence, then it becomes a problem.

    The attack against the World Trade Centre was not an attack against American aggression. Islamic terrorism had been growing for years. Those who support its doctrines do indeed wish their reading of Islam to become the accepted norm. This is evident with the killing of Ahmed Shah Massoud on September 9th 2001. Massoud was a great man by anyones definition. He fought the Soviets, helping to drive them out of Afghanistan, and then continued to fight the Taliban, and staunchly attacking their interpretation of the Koran. He was assassinated by radical Muslims two days before the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t kill him because he was American; he wasn’t. They killed him because he posed a threat to their perverted and dangerous doctrine.

    After taking control of much of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban installed the most vicious and violent form of Shariah law that any Islamic nation has ever had to endure. For Massoud’s part in trying to destroy the Taliban regime, he was nominated in 2002 for a Nobel Peace Prize, and has a National Day named after him, in his honour. Can you imagine living in a country that was essentially free and modernising rapidly, to a Country that suddenly banned education, sports, and leaving the house without a male chaperon for all women? Can you imagine suddenly become a Country that forced all men to have a fist sized beard on their chin on pain of public torture if disobeyed? Where suddenly you could be put to death for owning a TV or sending a Christmas Card. A Country in which a woman would be publicly executed if she had been seen by a Male doctor, no matter how sick she was? That was not Afghanistan prior to 1996. But it was Afghanistan in 1996-2001? All this whilst they funded and trained extremists carrying out bombing missions against US Embassies.

    According to a UN Report, most civilian deaths in Afghanistan since 2001, have been caused by the Taliban insurgency. They are also focussing their attacks on unarmed Aid workers. 76% of civilian deaths in 2009, according to the UN Report have been caused by the Taliban. They do not care who they kill. They want control of a country, for religious ideological reasons. Here are a group that helped carry out attacks on US embassies, harboured terrorists, helped to fund and plan 9/11, assassinated an opposition leader, refused to allow women the right to leave the house alone, carried out extreme torture and execution on a daily basis, and who would kill you and I, and I don’t think It’d be a leap to say they’d most certainly use chemical or biological weapons against the West or any anti-Islamic fundamentalist group, if they had the capability; all of this and the anti war left do not see it as sufficient to intervene? By that same reasoning, should we have left Milošević alone?

    The problem on the Western Side, was that a lot of Muslims believed that whilst Terrorism was wrong, they felt a sense of “brotherhood” with Muslims in Afghanistan, and therefore felt it was a battle between the West and Islam. Which is a ridiculous argument. The Crusades are long dead. I am an Atheist, not a Christian. I couldn’t care less what religion a man in a desert in Afghanistan chooses to adhere to. The fact that Turkey supplied troops to the war against the Taliban also suggests this wasn’t a war on Islam.

    There is another attack, that seems to have no actual end, or point to it. “Yeah, but America funded the Taliban in the 80s against the Soviets!”.
    Absolutely. It was the wrong thing to do. The US created a Monster. I absolutely do not support the Reagan administration in pretty much anything it did. It funded Right winged terrorists throughout Latin America in an attempt to spread American Capitalism. But that was the Reagan Administration. The Foreign landscape was entirely different, and just because they created the monster for short sighted reasons, doesn’t mean that they should wash their hands of that monster 20 years later.

    Afghanistan needs to be a fully functioning State. That is absolutely impossible with a Taliban presence. A Taliban presence means terrorism, which means mass instability across the region, and presents a worry for Pakistan with it’s Nuclear capability. A functioning State of Afghanistan, progression both economically and politically can only take shape without the Taliban.

    The issue Afghanistan clearly has now, is Karzai isn’t exactly Mr Clean himself. In 2009, of the 66 polling sites in Kandahar, 100% of the vote came out in favour of Karzai. In the Zherai Awal Camp, 2,100 people are eligible to cast a vote for the Afghan President. Of those 2100………… 2300 apparently voted according to the polling report, and everyone of them voted for Karzai. Karzai’s opponent, Abdullah Abdullah refused to carry on the election, citing his lack of faith in the Government’s ability to allow a fair and free election. He has since started the Campaign for Change and Hope in Afghanistan, as a new Party for Democratic reform. The fact that that Campaign from Abdullah Abdullah is allowed to exist, a party for Democratic reform, shows that Afghanistan has come far, and is much better off, and certainly now on a decent path, which it would not have been on had the Taliban still been in control. In early 2001, Abdullah Abdullah travelled to Europe to ask for financial aid, to help Afghanistani people affected by the cruelty of the Taliban regime, he said without the aid of Pakistan and Bin Laden’s group, the Taliban would be history.

    Karzai is currently offering to negotiate peace with the Taliban. The problem with that is, the Taliban do not want stability, or a functioning democratic state. They are not fighting to keep America out. That is simply a clever propaganda tactic. They are fighting to control Afghanistan and force a harsh environment where Shariah is the law of the land, and terrorism can be supported.

    I think the objective is pretty clear. Al Qaeda and the Taliban are absolutely linked. The link extends to the stability of Afghanistan. The link extends to Pakistan and its Nuclear program. To build a free and democratic Afghanistan that isn’t ruled by oppressive gangsters supporting terrorism, and to ensure that particular group do not develop Nuclear capability, we must stay the course in Afghanistan and ensure its State becomes strong and capable of self defence. To allow the Taliban the opportunity to retake Afghanistan, would only lead to another 9/11 and another failed State that requires further intervention. Do it now, or try to do it again and again and again every few years.

    We also have to win the propaganda war. There are doubtless section of Western Muslim community who actually believe that the Taliban are the defenders of Islam and the heroes fighting Western imperialism. Do they oppose Abdullah Abdullah? Do they oppose democratic change? Does the anti-war Left believe the only legitimate option for Afghanistan was an oppressive Taliban regime who would gladly light the fuse that blew up the West? To let that kind of Fascism persist, in my opinion, is a great evil. To turn a blind eye to it, as we did with Rwanda, is a great evil. It must be confronted.

    It does not help the US’s case, that individual soldiers seem to believe they are above the law, and somehow manage to get acquitted for awful crimes. In my eyes the war is justified, but it has to be fought on the standards of the outcome it wishes to achieve; the rule of law, and stability. To forgo the judicial process for individual US soldiers who have committed crimes in Afghanistan, only adds fuel to the fire of mistrust and the entire anti-war left start to suspect the entire war effort as having sinister undertones. It doesn’t take long on the Stop The War Coalition website to come across an article mentioning oil; another argument I always find horrifically simplistic.

    The biggest disadvantage the Taliban have, is the collective memory of a rather annoyed population who remember the dark days of 1996-2001. Rory Stewart, an expert on Afghanistan, write:

    The Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek populations are wealthier, more established and more powerful than they were in 1996 and would strongly resist any attempt by the Taliban to occupy their areas. The Afghan national army is reasonably effective. Pakistan is not in a position to support the Taliban as it did before. It would require far fewer international troops and planes than we have today to make it very difficult for the Taliban to gather a conventional army as they did in 1996 and drive tanks and artillery up the main road to Kabul.

    – With this in mind, there are now projects in Afghanistan that are community led rather than foreign aid led, to build a stable Country. But whilst these are small steps in the right direction, the shady Karzai regime has taken two steps back. The reason the Executive branch of the new Afghanistan Government has powers beyond that of the US President or the UK Prime Minister, is because strong leadership is needed in the first years following its foundation. In an era where the Taliban are winning the propaganda war, a weak executive and a strong Parliament could be potentially disastrous. Karzai needed to act decisively, and honestly. The quite obvious election corruption by the Karzai regime was one massive reason the executive branch of this new State could be endangered, but beyond that, he is calling for Taliban fighters to stop the violence and back to new government. For me, this simply tells the Taliban that they can’t be defeated, that the Karzai government and their allies in the UK and US are too tired to fight any longer and are willing to accept compromise. Progress in human rights, and the rebuilding of the State is under threat, with the apparent desire to appease the Taliban. As Karzai attempted to negotiate with the Taliban, they killed his brother, and other top ranking officials. The US is not helping matters, as Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary said the US would engage in political talks with the Taliban by the end of the year. Shortly after Karzai revealed that the US and Afghanistan was in “PEACE” talks with the Taliban, announcing to the press that the talks were “going well”, four suicide bombers attacked a police station next to the Afghan Finance Ministry. The Taliban admitted they carried out the attacks. I must concur with Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, when he said:

    “The only possibility that (peace) could happen is if they as a movement are defeated and there’s no prospect of that happening in the near future.”

    These are not people to be appeased, they do not want to be part of a democratic process. They don’t want to give people a choice on whether they’re wanted in power or not, they want absolute power, and rule by fear, torture and murder. They are a threat to their own people, and they are a threat to the World. And until we discover the true nature of the Pakistani ISI and their links to the Taliban, we may be a long way from defeating them, though it’s a necessity. On the subject of Pakistan, they must be treated with suspicion and watched carefully. According to a report by Matt Waldman of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard University;

    Directly or indirectly the ISI appears to exert significant influence on the strategic decisionmaking and field operations of the Taliban; and has even greater sway over Haqqani
    insurgents. According to both Taliban and Haqqani commanders, it controls the most violent
    insurgent units, some of which appear to be based in Pakistan

    – With this sort of accusation, it is less surprising that Osama Bin Laden was found next to a military compound in Pakistan. I would feel almost certain in saying he was being protected by the ISI, and more than that; I’d say that Mullah Omar, the Taliban Leader, is also hiding in Pakistan under the protection of the ISI. Mullah Omar is a man who has said he will hunt and kill Americans like dogs. In fact, captured Taliban insurgent Muhammad Hanif made that exact confession. Hanif admitted that Mullah Omar is in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Obviously Pakistan have denied this, yet the US (who insist their relationship with Pakistan is strong and based on mutual trust) seem to think there might be some truth in it, given that the Wikileak earlier this year showed that the US diplomatic community believe the ISI to be a terrorist organisation.

    There is no choice for the West. We either stay the course, regardless of how long it takes, and ensure this vile Fascist form of Islam is not allowed to take control of Afghanistan or any other Country, or we allow them to keep stabbing us, and just hope that one day they will suddenly understand that we have our differences, and they retract the knife despite having caused irreparable damage. I am not entirely sure what the anti-war Left propose we should do with the problem of Afghanistan.

    That is why I fully support the war, and a continued campaign in Afghanistan.