A number of very real and critical problems confront us: Environmental disaster, impending environmental catastrophe, corporate malfeasance, economic injustice, corruption, violence, violations of civil rights, institutionalized prejudice, unpunished crimes, the problem of empire, the marginalization of victims. War and occupation.
For me it comes back to war. The official, though illegal, occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is foremost in the national consciousness, as far as that goes. The wars we wage in the Sudan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Iran are less visible to the American public, but still there, and still have enormous consequences.
It's easy to pretend that someone other than the United States is waging the war and occupation by proxy in Gaza and the West Bank in Palestine. It's also much too easy to ignore it all completely. The consequences of this are just too much for many to grasp.
Even concentrating 'just' on Afghanistan (well, and Pakistan because you have to), the situation is almost too complex to parse.
Ethnic tensions are high, and the breakdown in Afghanistan(very roughly, and compiled from Wikipedia, so feel free to source check this) is:
The different groups operating in the region,(the 'bad guys' according to Richard Holbrooke, in the Maddow interview last week - the explanation starts on the YouTube link here at 7:45) are:
The Afghan Taliban
The Pakistani Taliban
The Haqqani Network
Now, throw into that mix:
The US Military
The Afghan Army (propped up by the US Military)
The Pakistani Army
The Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP)
The British Military
Other Nato Troops
Joint Special Operations Command
(JSOC - an almost autonomous special ops
US Military group)
Other Private Miltary Companies (PMCs - basically Mercenaries)
What a fucking mess. I'm sure I left an important group or two out, and my breakdown is oversimplified. We're trying to get the people of Afghanistan to accept a single national civilian government? All of these groups have independent missions, and have a history and old resentments with other groups in the region.
One example is Haqqani, and his network. Jalaluddin Haqqani's importance goes back to the Soviet occupation, when he worked with the CIA. Unsurprisingly, despite his importance to the story, a character by that name did not appear in the movie "Charlie Wilson's War". The Haqqani Network was targeted by drone strikes allegedly orchestrated by the CIA base in Afghanistan, and not long afterwards, that base was taken completely by surprised by a suicide bomber. Seven CIA agents, and an employee of Blackwater/Xe, were killed.
The way JSOC, the CIA, and Xe (aka Blackwater) operate together in Afghanistan is detailed fairly exhaustively by Jeremy Scahill at the Nation. (Click for link)
I don't think I could sum it up better than Rachel Maddow did on her show on July 14th.
An excerpt from an AP quote in the below article: "Last month was the deadliest of the war for international forces: 103 coalition troops were killed, despite the infusion of tens of thousands of new U.S. troops."
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
'Despite'. An increase in the number of troops killed, 'despite' the escalation of the war. The talking points and lack of internal consistency of the mainstream press (in this case the Associated Press) would baffle me if I thought they were doing anything but spouting propaganda towards the uninformed. This war was escalated from a half-assed occupation to full-on Vietnamization, and nearly every major voice in the media has treated it as an original strategy.
This will not end well. Holbrooke says that our national security depends on defeating terrorism in southwestern Asia. He says that the US administrations who thought that our national security depended on defeating communism in southeastern Asia were wrong, but that this time they're not wrong. Which "ism" is the next biggest threat? Majoritarianism?
The whole history of Vietnam has been shoved down the memory hole. Big Brother is watching, but 'any intrusion on privacy is "no greater than what the public already endures from traffic cameras."' We have always been at war with Eurasia, or is it Eastasia?
There's a lot going on in the world, and I think it's critical that people are advocating and struggling for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity, for human rights, and for peace - all at the same time. It's all really the same issue.
It's time to get involved and force an end to this madness. Pick up a protest sign, pick up a bullhorn, pick up a pen. The twenty-first century offers us more opportunities to speak out than in recent years, so if you don't have time to hit the streets, if you can't afford to travel, network online. Tweet to the world, and build a network. Use Facebook for more than playing Mafia or Farmville, and network your friends to the real issue in the world. Find out about Diaspora, probably the next big wave in social networking. Get involved in the emerging technology of virtual worlds, and join us in Second Life, at the Four Bridges Project, or the Commonwealth Islands, or Cafe Wellstone, or some other group - there are hundreds. At least connect the old fashioned way to some local progressive group to stay informed by using an email list-server.
The problems are serious, and I'm afraid we have to ramp up our skills to meet the challenge.