Spinning the Afghan Vote

Posted: August 20, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Here are a few quotes for your consideration:

Me, on July 28:

The timing of Holbrooke’s comments defending the legitimacy of the election, coming before the election takes place, exposes the game plan for the weeks ahead. Holbrooke is seeking to preempt questions about election legitimacy before the election takes place because the administration plans to defend the legitimacy of the election no matter what. That’s because this is what occupiers do–what Edward Herman calls “ratification-of-conquest.”  The Obama administration needs to be able to point to a “legitimate” election so they can translate that legitimacy into a perception of legitimacy for their entire Afghanistan policy.

From the New York Times today:

American officials were quick to declare the poll a success — worth the expanding commitment of troops and money to an increasingly unpopular and corruption-plagued government.

From Malalai Joya, former Afghan member of parliament, earlier today:

We Afghans know this election will change nothing. It is merely a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan.

Like millions of Afghans, I have no hope in the results of this week’s election. In a country ruled by warlords, occupation forces, Taliban insurgency, drug money and guns, no one can expect a legitimate or fair vote.

Headline from another NYT story:

Gibbs: Afghan Election Outcome Won’t Change Policy

Hope you have your grain of salt handy for the coming news cycle.

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Comments
  1. Dear Derrick,

    I’ve tried to capture the ‘desperate’ feelings of Afghans on the ground in the article below.

    Grieving in Afghanistan,
    Hakim

    A desperate Afghan election of war and the Meocracy of Me

    Afghans and internationals are desperate.

    Children, troops, truth, kindness and things that make the destitute life tolerable are desperately dying.

    Efforts to build this country are desperately failing.

    I heard a young Afghan friend say, as I have heard many times before, “Since I was born, I’ve known nothing but war. We are sick and tired of war.”

    How can life survive in this desperation?

    How does a person cope with such desperation, besides handling neglect, grief, anger and disappointment?

    How does a person cope with the glaring disparity between words and actions, between actions and conscience?

    I’m afraid that neither my friend nor the world is coping.

    Our spirit-killing, stubborn selves answer war with war, bloodshed with bloodshed and fear with fear. This conventional approach from self-assumed ‘better’ humans or civilizations does not encourage or give any alternatives to my Afghan friend.

    Do you hear the desperation? Do you understand?

    How can we understand when all we hear is either the shout or silence of self-aggrandizement?

    The self-absorbed domination of money and power in the hands of a few is so globally pervasive that we can no longer hear, see or think humanely.

    We only hear, see and think what the dominant few want us to and this makes the ordinary Afghan person desperate, as they fatefully accept that because the rich and powerful are set on war and fear-mongering, there is no other choice.

    Whereas almost all human beings understand that killing an ‘enemy’ creates more ‘enemies’ and therefore makes us less secure, sadly, this has now been the globally sanctioned way for more than a century.

    There is now no space at all to address the more basic human causes of extreme violence worldwide: hate, pride, discontentment.

    We are desperately staring, in US Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ own words, at an Afghan ‘mystery’, but still acting as if we know what’s good and moral for the Afghan home.

    What led Afghanistan and the world to this desperation?

    One significant regression is the growth of a system of life and governance that is motivated by the self-focused fear of losing our lives, our money and our power : the Meocracy of me. It says primitively, “ Me fear I won’t be safe! Me fear I won’t be rich! Me fear I won’t have control!”

    9/11 or terrorism

    As a culmination and ongoing expression of complex, historical, cultural, religious and multinational self-interests which has estranged or disconnected all meaningful relationships of human trust, and unbeknown to the illiterate Afghan populace who are mostly farmers and shepherds, 19 angry persons ( and behind them many more angry persons ) successfully frightened the world on 9/11.

    NONE of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Afghan.

    NONE of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Afghan?!

    Some Afghans thought, “Could even our most fearsome, turban-clad countrymen have been such competent pilots and engineers, able to bring down the Twin Towers?” Such tall buildings were way beyond any tribal Afghan’s reasonable mud-hut imagination anyway, far less precision flying into them!

    But what good chance and fortune that fiery American bombs came to ‘save’ Afghans in revenge for a 9/11 terror enacted by non-Afghans!

    8 years later, the Americans and other Great Gamers with various names like NATO ( you should drop this acronym to Afghan village folk to see if it makes any sense to them ), are refashioning their enterprise to clear, hold and build what?

    Build by clearing and occupying all semblance of a meaningful life?

    Army General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, had already said that Al-Qaeda is no longer operating in Afghanistan. So, what’s this gross escalating violence all about? What is all this dying about?

    If the Obama administration is intent on dismantling ‘safe havens’, they have to deal with hate, and any human can tell you that hate, once lodged in the human heart against anyone, is not country-bound. It is certainly not assuaged by killing.

    The Meocracy of Me

    But it seems that war simply has to carry on, like life. The Meocracy of Me, the self-absorbed protection and perpetuation of fears, through and for the dominance of money and power, drives life and death today.

    I am not anti-American. I am anti-violence, violence being any action that puts down another human being. So, despising another person or thinking that the other person is absolutely wrong is violent. Violence robs dignity and dehumanizes and is proud and rude. It feeds fear and leaves no room for love. It is all about Me. In its extreme expression, it deliberately takes away the most basic human right to life, by inflicting death.

    In late June 2009, sometime near the 30th of Jaoza 1388 according to the Afghan calendar, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a US$106 billion emergency spending bill to expand the war in Afghanistan and to continue the war in Iraq. The ‘democratic’ vote was 91-5.

    So the money and power keeps pouring in, to the delight of every powerful, corrupt and already rich one.

    More troops.

    More bombs.

    More money.

    More power.

    More fear.

    More Me.

    More desperation.

    Just before the elections, Panther’s Claw was waged and declared a ‘success’. COIN? The Afghan women and children and international troopers suffering and dying through COIN say, “What? Why?” We need to be reminded that the dead, of course, can never ask again.

    This is like setting a horrid, gory, all brawn and brawn, Hollywood movie-style war scenario and then embedding a ‘democratic election’ smack in the midst of it.

    And every other human sitting in their comfortable first-world couch elsewhere is supposed to say of this election, “Hooray to democracy and freedom and human rights in Afghanistan!”

    Cast the bombs and IEDs! Cast your votes!

    Milestone for democracy in war! Fair elections in the midst of war! How desperate can we get?

    So, in this un-stoppable tide of the ‘good’ and ‘winnable’ war arising from the superpower ‘democracy’ of our day, an appropriate presidential client-ally will somehow be ‘democratically’ elected.

    Ask the ordinary Afghan and most of them will tell you with a help-less sigh that though the current Karzai government is incorruptibly corrupt and self-serving, Karzai will probably win again, mysteriously, against any common sense of justice.

    Ordinary Afghans pragmatically live and understand the oppressed life, that it’s not the upright but the powerful and rich who win, because they can coerce or buy conformity from the fearful and poor masses.

    A lost humanity and creativity : the desperate election

    Please imagine standing beside a mother or a child or a young soldier dying from a bomb or a bullet. Try saying, “We’re doing this for our revenge and your protection, our security and your freedom. We have no alternatives. It really isn’t about you. It’s about Me.”

    What desperate words when we should really be saying, “We’re sorry, we love you and we’ll miss you and it hurts like mad.”

    In the midst of all these comes the elections.

    A small illustration of creativity lost to Meocracy. In 2007, through a well-intentioned Youth Empowerment Program funded by USAID and implemented by UN Habitat, a village in the valley of Sumara in Bamiyan was approached to set up a village youth council. This was done through the process of ‘democratic elections’ taught to the youth.

    But, it was contextually overlooked that these are the youth who casually say, “Since I was born, I’ve known nothing but war.”

    Wow! The potential money and power ‘Me’ will get being the Youth Council President, to survive in this war, I mean, in this life.

    So, when the youth of Sumara gathered to ‘elect’ their Youth Council for the first time in their till recently self-sufficient village, the elections took on power-hungry tones, which brought out the deep-seated racial prejudices, with their elders stepping in to back their own sons and daughters.

    So, the Sumara youth never got a chance to have their ‘capacity-building’ workshops on ‘how to write a proposal ( for dollar-funded projects )’, in English! In the other youth councils I work with, the only, exasperating non-creative solution to any issue or problem is not “ What can we do?” but “ Write a Proposal!”, a crippling dependence on foreign money and power.

    That was 2 years ago. I recently visited the Sumara youth over a peace-building program. They still haven’t resolved the fall-out from that ‘democratic election’.

    Foreigners and foreign ways cannot build an Afghan village, far less the Afghan nation. Afghans can and need to resolve this on their own, which includes resolving their own wars.

    So, we get the desperation that we plant, besides the thousands of graves everywhere.

    We suddenly get a country of 17 million plus registered ‘democratic’ voters, never mind the fraud, who would desperately emulate their American Senate patrons in ‘democratically’ voting for more money and power even if it means war, to address the same human fears.

    What we get is the desperate, dramatic, electoral trap of rigging power for the dominant Me-s.

    We get the desperate election of everything a human does not want.

    We get a desperate Afghan election of war and the Meocracy of Me.

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