The Judge RANTS!
Afghanistan: A Pull-Out Supplement
Here's a little thought experiment for you, chums.
Imagine the following:
- You live in a country with an ages-old culture which has the double misfortune of being strategically placed and in possession of various highly-valuable natural resources
- Having not long driven out one global superpower from your land, you then find yourselves being illegally invaded and occupied by the other one
- They then impose upon you a sequence of puppet régimes which are incompetent, endemically corrupt, and can't - even with the assistance of the occupiers - control more than a fraction of the country's territory for more than five minutes at a stretch
- Said administrations loot the country of its money and resources, spiriting them out of the country via various entrepôts to various Arab dictatorships and the West, leaving you and your countrymen in a state of utter poverty
- Your conditions are hardly helped by having to watch while the invaders - with the whole-hearted support of 'the international community', natch - bomb your towns, your villages, your wedding receptions and present all this to the world as a 'humanitarian intervention'
- You endure all this for twenty years before the invaders realise - as had all the others before them (there's nothing like learning from experience, and this has been nothing like learning from it) - that the situation had developed not necessarily to their advantage (to an extent that would have left even Pyrrhus banging his head against a Tora Bora cave wall in disbelief) and decide to leave
- They leave behind them absolute devastation in both material and human terms, the stooge president decamps for the Gulf in an invader-provided helicopter with a sad fraction of the wealth he had looted (poor dab had room for only about $140m of it and had to leave the rest on the tarmac), and in a matter of a few days the whole country is once again under the control of some of the finest intellects that seventh-century Arabia has to offer.
Now, given all of the above, what would your attitude be to those of your fellow citizens who decided - for whatever reason - to work for the occupiers, looters and mass-murderers? Would you be inclined to think that they should be 'protected' or even allowed to escape the country?
In similar contexts at other times, the word which would be used to describe those who were willing to assist in the pillage and plunder of their own country for personal gain is 'collaborator'. Whether we - at a cosily safe distance in geographical, cultural and sociological terms - think that that is a fair description or not is neither here nor there; that is almost certainly what the remaining residents of Afghanistan will think of them.
Yet we are now called on to believe that these abetters of their land's destruction are worth far more of our consideration beyond that of simple human empathy for their individual plights. No, we are now instructed that we have a 'moral duty' to assist them in leaving a country to which they will never be able safely to return.
Now, it is a well-established principle that when politicians and their fluffing punditocracy start talking of 'honour', then you should count the spoons; it is equally true that when these same purveyors of piffle start blowing on about 'moral duty', you should expand your stock-take to include not only the entire canteen of cutlery but all the dining-room furniture as well.
And so it was in the Mofo of Parliaments yesterday, where bloviating blackguards, limp liberals and clench-buttocked cliché-mongers lined up to thunder about how 'we' had a 'moral duty' to help the ground-level enablers of their own nation's rape. Men who claimed for themselves a moral authority simply from the fact that they had once worn a uniform to work raged about the perfidy of the 'partner' who had let 'us' down by withdrawing from Afghanistan without taking into account the urgent need of Global Britain™ to 'punch above its weight on the world stage' by being - as the great modern philosopher Bill Bailey has so succintly put it - the weedy kid who hangs around with the school bully. That odious serial nonentity known as Iain Duncan Shit claimed that withdrawal brought "shame on us".
As Tonto is alleged to have said to the Lone Ranger when his white 'friend' was putting him in harm's way yet again, "Who the fuck's this 'we', paleface?".
For, in as much as there might have been any 'moral duty' involved in the matter at all, the Ukanian régime is twenty years too late in applying it. The time for a sense of 'moral duty' was in 2001 when - fortified by his trust in his Lord and Saviour (with the Potomac providing a useful substitute for the Jordan, not for the first or the last time) - the future Cardinal Archbishop Blair led the nodding donkeys on his own benches and the braying asses of the Conservative Party (a body always keen to sing Rule Britannia and send the plebs' sons off to kill a few fuzzy-wuzzies) to support an illegal invasion and occupation of another country which was deemed too important to be left to the will of its own people and too weak to fight back. A few hardy souls tried to point out several obvious weaknesses in the arguments being put forward, but they were drowned out - as before, as since - by a cascade of khaki bunting specially commissioned by High Moral Tone himself and his cheerleaders.
The simple 'moral' point which needed to be made was, and continues to be, this:
'We' shouldn't have been there in the first fucking case.
Because it was not as if there was no precedent for knowing what the most likely outcome of such an assault would be. The Medes, the Persians, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Mongols, the Mughals, the Sikhs, the English (three times on their own) and the Soviet Union (ditto) had all done it before, and none of those conquests had lasted more than a few years. The peoples of what is now Afghanistan - for reasons somehow unfathomable to the best minds in western civilisation - do not look favourably upon others coming to steal their land, their dignity and their wealth from them, and although their resistance may sometimes have been typified by a sort of determined anticipatory quietism, at all other times it has been characterised by the notion that it is better to be ruled by your own thugs - who you have a half-decent chance of overthrowing when they overstep the mark - than by someone else's, and that much should be sacrificed to achieve that happy state.
It isn't just the politicians, of course. Their media catamites have been similarly disposed to synchronised squealing in the past few days, ranging from the whimpering about how the invasion was always going to be a disaster (a perception they were seemingly unable to voice at the time) to the screaming about how this was a terrible blow to British Influence™. Particularly piquant has been the volume of voluble complaints about how 'we' have been 'let down' by our 'ally' (with whom we have a Special Relationship® of a kind usually to be found between a pimp and a prostitute). For once, to the Scumme Presse of Olde Englande the perceived back-stabbers aren't the Germans, or even the French, but Grandpa Joe in the White House (you remember? The one who only a few months ago was going to bring 'sanity' back to US policy?)
That the United States may (but only may, if this is to be believed) finally be seeing some sense over their hyper-hubristic over-reach, and that such a development should be seen as A Good Thing is, of course, not allowed to enter the public discourse. Any recalibration of US foreign policy towards a greater degree of subtlety (if not actual introspection) is deemed by its very substance to be A Bad Idea and cannot be countenanced.
To see avid Atlanticists brimming and frothing at being 'deserted' by the global hegemon to which they have hitched not only their ideological star but the very direction of travel of their own society and polity does give cause for more than mild amusement, along with the almost certainly forlorn hope that the grip of the American Empire (or the projected illusions of same) upon the hearts and minds of both the élite and the general population alike might now start to slacken.
Most entertaining of all - and a cause of hilarity if you have a bleak sense of humour - is to hear pols and pundits who have spent enormous amounts of time and energy over a period of decades and at varying degrees of oblique angles chuntering on about the undesirability of immigration (even as a concept) now insisting that we have a...yes, a 'moral duty' to take in as many Afghan collaborators as possible. Even Priti Patel, a thoroughly nasty person with a heart of concrete and an intellect to match, has had to concede - if only out of short-term strategic considerations - that a few thousand should be taken in to virginal Blighty. The fact that this won't go down well with the general populace outside of the hand-wringing classes is entirely due to the actions over a generation or more of people precisely like her who have used the spectre of 'nasty foreigners coming here to steal our women and rape our jobs' to advance their own public profile and careers.
The mephitic odour of denialism still dominates however, amongst hacks both political and stenographic, and this can be seen at its most prominent in the anguish from columnists in the Grauniad such as their tame (official) rightist Simon Jenkins and from Polly Toynbee (that perpetual Lady Bountiful of complaisant Empire Liberalism) about the fate of the women of Afghanistan. This is a manifestation of what the real journalist Jonathan Cook described in this majestic takedown as, "...western liberals who assumed their own simplistic discourse about identity politics was ripe for export.", and would be somewhat closer to being convincing had not the régimes - in London and DC - which they have supported loyally since way back in the when not tied themselves so closely to authoritarian patriarchies on the Arabian peninsula whose concerns for women tend to concentrate on their market value.
The state-corporate colonialist war on the people of Afghanistan is not over: other rationales will be found; said rationales will be peddled by the same political ponces and amplified by the same complicit media; and we will be lied to yet again under a festoon of flag-shagging into acquiescing to yet another unwinnable conflict, one which may well drag China and Russia into the maelstrom. Is there any chance that We, The People at least might be a little wiser by then?