....LMB: "Afghanistan: Big Fucking Mess"....

June 08, 2002

Poor Afghanistan.

Back in 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to prop up a pro-USSR president, beginning several decades of destruction.

Actually, that might not be entirely true.

According to then US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the US got involved in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviets did with the hope that it would draw the Soviet Union into the region and give the USSR its own "Vietnam war." So either the US helped foment a civil war in Afghanistan for its own Cold War ends, or Brzezinski is making shit up to write himself into the pages of history. Hard to say.

Anyhow, the Soviets fought the US-backed Mujahadeen for over a decade before conceding defeat. Then the Mujahadeen began fighting for power amongst themselves, grinding the country to dust in the process.

In the late 1990s, the Pakistan-backed Taliban militia began to grow and conquer in Afghanistan. They managed to beat back the Mujahadeen warlords, who now joined together into a force we call the "Northern Alliance" to fight their common enemy, the Taliban.

After the terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, the US invaded Afghanistan and drove the Taliban from power (more or less).

Which brings us up to the present. Afghanistan is officially ruled by interim president Hamid Karzai, who is best known for, well, wearing a little fuzzy hat. His government has little money, no police force, and only a small national guard to try to control a chaotic, quasi-feudal nation. The warlords rule, and everyone knows it.

So begins Afghanistan's Loya Jirga. The Loya Jirga is a summit meeting of hundreds of Afghan representatives who will try to crib together a new government and constitution. The Times (UK)'s grim prediction:

"What is likely to unfold is a week of bewildering allegiances, treachery, and backroom deals between warlords who should not be there, local militiamen who have bribed and intimidated themselves onto the floor, and a Loya Jirga assembly that some monitors claim will produce a pre-determined outcome favoured by the United States — a result that would enrage the already disaffected majority Pashtuns."

Read the Times article. It's a good window into the impossibly complex and ruthless world of Afghan politics, and explains why victory over the Taliban didn't necessarily improve the life of anyone in Afghan (well, maybe the lives of the warlords).

Posted by Jake at 01:13 AM

That Brzezinski article is a great find. Thanks.

Posted by: dack at June 10, 2002 09:09 AM

So it was really the US who deviously lured the unsuspecting Soviets into Afghanistan in 1979. That website you link to is full of absurd conspiracy theories that basically place full blame for Sept. 11 on Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld (none of whom I like).

We all know that Afghanistan is a huge mess but for the first time in more than 20 years at least there is a glimmer of hope. Jake you seem to miss the Taliban…

Posted by: MS at June 11, 2002 08:23 AM

There must be some signs of hope because why else would so many Afghan refugees be going back (Reuters? Or is this a dirty American trick to lure back the refugees?

Posted by: MS at June 11, 2002 08:44 AM

That failed Reuters link is: http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml;jsessionid=B40I05ULLEKUECRBAEKSFFAKEEATIIWD?type=worldnews&StoryID=1066560

Posted by: at June 11, 2002 08:47 AM

Well, MS, I mainly linked to that Brzezinski article because it was in his own words. The site is conspiracy-oriented, but "the US did it" what the man told his interviewer. I first heard about the quote in the book "Unholy Wars" by John Cooley, a fairly comprehensive look at US support for Islamic militants as proxy forces during the Cold War. And as I noted in my post, my cynical self wonders if the US did not draw the Soviets in, but that Brezenski is saying they did so he can take personal credit for the end of the Cold War.

As for "missing the Taliban," I was writing about their atrocities back in '98 (http://www.eatthestate.org/02-33/WorldsMostSexist.htm). They were thugs. So are the Northern Alliance warlords. Do I really have to choose a side? Can't I just be anti-thug?

I certainly hope that things improve for the people of Afghanistan, but I'm a pessimistic person. Seems to me likely that Karzai will become a figurehead, the US will pull its troops out, nations of the world will start pumping money into Afghanistan, and the warlords will do their best to intercept that money and really rule their portions of the country by use of force.

Posted by: Jake at June 11, 2002 11:36 AM

I'm pretty sure this is the original article ..


Posted by: jerzy at February 2, 2003 10:02 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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