Category Archives: Afghanistan

The lukewarm war, threatening to become hot

One can’t stop wondering about the deep irrationality and inconsistency that the human species is capable of. I had a friend once who was very emotional and loved his children beyond everything. If they had died, he probably would have lost all reason for living himself. At the same time, he was a raving right-wing apologist, warmongering fiercely against our standard enemies. Never did he connect the two discrepancies and realize that his sons could be among those killed in the war he acted as to facilitate.

And this man is just one among millions deceived in the same way. We are all prone to swallow even the most stupid propaganda and conjure up hatred against “enemies” who for some reason are considered suitable. Today the number one of these enemies is Russia. And that’s nothing new.

Through the centuries Russia has endured constant pressure from western powers, and numerous attempts by them to conquer the vast Eurasian land. Not that Russia ever has posed a significant threat westwards; it obviously must be conquered just because it exists (like mountaineers say about the next mountain top).

In the beginning of the 18th century Sweden’s king Charles XII was one who tried but was stopped already in Ukraine by Петр Великий. Charles ruined his country through endless wars, which he carried through mainly because that kind of life pleased him. The positive side of his catastrophic adventures was that Sweden became forever cured from all dreams of being a permanent great power in Europe. (Instead we eventually turned into a role model in peaceful achievements.)

We know the other attempts to conquer Russia in wars of aggression: France under Napoleon, Germany in WWI and Western powers in the civil war following the revolution. When Germany again in WWII steamrolled its war machine eastwards it was at least with a declared motive, stated in Generalplan Ost. According to the plan, more than half the population in occupied East were to be exterminated or deported, the remaining to be used as slave labor in the service of the Nazi empire. Executing the plan started without delay, and 14 million civilians were murdered by SS and their accomplices before the killers were stopped.

Lack of aggression, comparatively speaking, on the part of Russia against other countries can hardly be attributed to moral superiority, rather to military weakness. Occasionally they have tried, for instance when they occupied Manchuria in 1900, where they were punched in the nose by the Japanese.

During the first Cold War (which we now experience over again) the Soviet Union was pictured by us as the main aggressive power, threatening the whole world. And yes, they performed some horrible atrocities in eastern Europe such as in East Germany 1953 (55 killed), in Hungary 1956 (3 000 killed) and in Czechoslovakia 1968 (72 killed). We have these crimes in vivid memory, frequently reminded by our propaganda outlets.

The Soviets engaged in one major military operation during the post-war period – the war in Afghanistan. It may have been as close to R2P one can get, since the objective was to help the Afghan government, probably the best government that country has ever had. Nevertheless, the Russians simply proved that war mostly lead to disaster. US was provoked to create the Mujahidin to fight the Russians, the government was overthrown and ultimately the Taliban arrived at the scene. In the end the Soviet system collapsed.

For being the giant threat to the world one must say that Soviet Union was rather modest compared to the western world, led by USA. In almost perpetual wars – one more illegal and immoral than the other – millions and millions of people have been killed, mostly innocent civilians. That is something we more rarely are reminded of.

(To be continued…)

Sweden joining NATO? More fuel on the fire?

The Ukrainian conflict has given the Swedish reactionaries a God-send opportunity to revive the dear old Cold War, demand more money to the military and insist on Sweden joining NATO. Russia has finally become a threat to our existence again; we’re back in the good old days! Never mind that Russia hasn’t the conventional military resources necessary to harm Sweden in any way and of course nor the slightest intention or motivation to do so. It doesn’t even want any part of Ukraine (except the thoroughly Russian Crimea, where a large military base threatened to be captured by NATO).

There is still a slight majority of Swedes not wanting a NATO membership, but the propaganda machinery works on all cylinders to change that. After a public debate recently on the subject one propagandist (in Dagens Nyheter) dismissed his opponents with the ironic sentence: “There is obviously a kinder universe where there is no need for NATO. I wish I had a visa that allowed me in there”.

That self-delusion is breath-taking; most universes must be kinder than NATO’s, as we learn from scanning just briefly over the records achieved by this military alliance. During its relatively short existence one or more members of this organization has accomplished a number of things, such as:

  • waging numerous illegal, immoral and horrible wars with millions of innocent people killed
  • overthrowing a large number of democratically elected governments, usually because they wanted to implement some social reforms to help ordinary people and the poor
  • replacing these overthrown governments with dictators, often military ones, sometimes of more or less Nazi character
  • supporting other dictators economically, militarily and politically – as long as they obeyed orders, not bothering if they tortured and harassed their populations
  • subjecting a country like Cuba to more terrorist attacks than any other country has suffered
  • training and equipping death squads in vassal states to kill politicians, union leaders, priests and anyone else with the wrong kind of ideas

Let’s save some space and halt there. If this happens to be the flip side of the coin, what about the positive achievements by NATO that this journalist considered self-evident?

We learned already in school that NATO was established to counter the “Soviet empire” and its ambition to conquer the whole world. We have had some scholars trawling through Lenin’s voluminous writings to find a sentence revealing the Communist goal of spreading over the entire globe. (There was of course no need to distinguish between Soviet foreign policy and Lenin’s speculations in the philosophy of history.)

“The Russians are coming!” vindicated all the horrible actions that NATO countries undertook. The fact that the Russian crimes against other nations, at least before the attack on Afghanistan, were completely insignificant compared to NATO’s was easily concealed.

During the first Cold War every sane person realized that the Soviet Union had no interest whatsoever to move beyond the borders of the Warsaw Pact, and no capability to do so. The threat faced by the whole world was that of nuclear obliteration, a horror that sooner was enhanced by NATO expanding its power. That “the Russians are coming” was a fake pretext for the existence of NATO was bluntly revealed by its own leaders when the Soviet Union disappeared. Instead of then dissolving NATO, it was enlarged and expanded!

NATO-countries once created the mujaheddin that later procreated into even tougher Muslim groups who like Frankenstein’s monster turned against their creators. Then with a couple of meticulously brainless wars the whole Middle East was set on fire and we got the ultimate terrorists, IS (and subsequently today’s flood of refugees over Europe).

For every terrorist killed ten more are enrolled, nowadays from every corner of the world. It means that there is no permanent solution to the problems to be achieved by violent means (Russia is wrong there too). A giant reconciliation is the only way out. The way to get there is nowhere in sight today. Probably we will have to await a totally intolerable situation before anything can turn around. But the human capability to use the brain has historically achieved the most unbelievable things, and everything is possible!

Swedes pinpoint targets for drone attacks

The other day our media revealed a disturbing story from Afghanistan. Swedish military officers were said to be present in an operations center where targets for drone bombings were chosen. The officers allegedly took part in a “voting procedure” in which drone victims were selected. The story was (naturally) denied by the Defense department, and media cooperated by quickly dropping further inquiries.

Swedes in general are probably not aware that they live in a belligerent nation. We are at war for the first time in 200 years, and few people really care at all, if they even know. When Sweden offered its services to the United States after the violent retaliation following 9/11, which happened to hit the innocent Afghan people, it was assigned a relatively quiet area to the north of Afghanistan (the “peace-loving Swedes” were probably shown special consideration).

A lot of people here most likely think that we are engaged in some kind of peace-keeping operation under UN auspices, like the many in Africa and elsewhere we have been engaged in through the years. But this is real war. We are in Afghanistan as combatants, and our troops have suffered casualties. It’s not a game.

Different terrorist groups have mentioned Sweden as a possible object for attacks, motivated by our participation in the war. Apart from that we are subject to the laws of war, which means that Afghan troops are allowed to hit military targets on our soil. The government, for instance, as the highest responsible body for the war efforts, must be considered a legitimate military target.

Thus if an Afghan combatant trigger a bomb in the government’s meeting room during its regular Thursday session, blowing up the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet, it must be seen as a military operation. If captured the Afghan cannot be hurt or even interrogated. According to the laws of war he may reveal his name and rank, nothing else, and must be protected as a prisoner of war. Well none of these events are very probable (least of all the POW treatment).

We are so utterly pathetic in our naïve sense of superiority and our despicable self-adulation. We can’t even imagine that these poor people we are waging a war at should have even the slightest right to direct weapons at us as we do at them. And if it would enter our minds that they have some right, we feel entirely safe in the conviction that they have no means of really harming us.

We in the western world use all kinds of prestige words when we describe our ethics on the global scene: democracy, human rights, freedom of expression, etc. Yet our rotten moral can be unmasked by a ten year old.

To fight terrorism by intensely nurturing it

Last week the usually very mainstream Swedish public service television made an embarrassing gaffe in an interview with the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden. The reporter asked: “Do the Jews themselves have any responsibility in the growing Antisemitism that we see now?” to which the Ambassador immediately answered: “I reject the question altogether. There is no place for such a question to be asked.” He was immediately supported by media in general.

The reporter obviously confused Antisemitism with critique of Israeli politics, a rather ignorant mistake. Antisemitism as such is of course irrational expressions of unfounded emotions, often accompanied by paranoid notions. Hitler’s view is archetypal as he considered Jews to be the lowest kind of existence, hardly human at all, and at the same time a phenomenal force that threatened to conquer the whole world (a type of madness that even couldn’t be called illogical, it would be too kind).

With a small adjustment the reporter’s question would have been more than appropriate: “Does the Israeli government have any responsibility for the increasing terrorism that we now see?”. Questions with corresponding significance could also be directed to many western governments and media. The more so since their reaction now to ISIS military actions and terror operations are dazed: where did these monsters come from?

Noam Chomsky, who has studied the proper documents in depth, reports that US intelligence already prior to the war of aggression against Iraq warned that terrorism would increase in case of such a war. They were more than correct: terrorism mushroomed seven-fold. From then on it has just continued growing.

When it all started is almost a semantic question. The roots can be followed centuries back when the Europeans started to conquer and oppress the rest of the world, with its off-shoot USA eventually taking over the main role as the bully. The only territories in which the conquerors in any sense succeeded were in those where the indigenous people were almost completely wiped out, such as North America. In other areas the imperialists generated a lasting hostility, more or less violent.

After WWII imperialism step by step hit back at the imperialists. It became too costly to uphold, and neo-imperialism came instead, meaning total dominance without occupation but also requiring constant military threat and frequent wars. The oppression created resistance forces and liberation movements fighting for national sovereignty and freedom. From the 1980s most violent actions performed by “rebels” began being labeled “terrorism”.

The present terrorism in the Middle East has a simple genealogy. USA created the Mujaheddin to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Out of these groups evolved the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Then USA invaded Iraq which intensified recruitment to these terrorist armies. It so happened that an initially unobtrusive religious scholar named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi witnessed the horrible US attack on Fallujah, an experience that is said to have turned him into a dedicated militant. Today he is head of ISIS.

For every terrorist killed by western forces more than one new terrorist is mobilized. Is it pure lack of mathematical knowledge that make some decision makers believe that even more bombs and killings will solve the problem?

The importance of writing right (…to left)

I happened to read an anecdote the other day which possibly is a tall tale since it’s a bit too good. It was told by a Danish soldier to a columnist in my daily paper, Lena Sundstrom, and was about the US propaganda war in Afghanistan carried out with leaflets. Since illiteracy is widespread the leaflet was in the form of a cartoon.

The first frame of the cartoon showed crying women and children in a land of chaos. In the second frame US soldiers arrived to the country. And finally in the last frame were pictured lots of happy people.

There was just one snag in it: Afghans read from right to left!