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Inglorious End

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That the twenty-year military (and every other) intervention of the West led by the United States in Afghanistan has experienced an inglorious end is quite clear. No matter how (although well instructed) special reporters from Kabul try to convince everybody that what is happening (already happened), and that is that the Taliban took control over the whole country, was ‘not the imaginable’, however the masters of (dis)information might even try to present the obvious defeat to the public even as a victory, the facts cannot be changed.

 And the facts are these. Following the attacks on New York’s ‘twins’ (World Trade Center skyscrapers) in September 2001, the United States embarked on a ‘crusade’ against global terrorism, primarily against Al Quaida and its leader Bin Laden. Taking a leading role, meaning the United Sates are the one who commands, while all the other just obey. Because it was America which literally created Al Qaida with the task of creating for the Soviet troops that held Afghanistan under occupation ‘another Vietnam’ (having in mind its own defeat in South Vietnam), it was in a way logical to strike first of all Afghanistan (and the organization which targeted those who created it). It also could, if not justified by international law, be understood as a defensive reaction from a state under attack. But, sending troops to Afghanistan was another story. This meant the occupation of that country (the Soviets, albeit painful, understood and organized their withdrawal from Afghanistan years ago) and entering in the process so favored by US strategists, the process of nation building, in other words imposing a model of Western neoliberal democracy to a country where there were no conditions for it. But such ‘little things’ do not bother Washington. The main thing is to establish a government of occupier-friendly people and hold multi-party elections. It will prove, however, that this is not enough .

 In the occupation of Afghanistan, the Americans were obediently followed by the Atlantic Pact, an organization that has already – though no one in the West will dare to admit it – turn from a defense alliance limited to Europe into a iron fist of American politics in the whole world. Rather than reach for a model of Afghanistan (in that time and in that region an advanced country) from the time of King Mohammed Zahir Shah, when – for example – education of girls and the active role of women in society was something perfectly normal – they started ‘from the beginning’, as if nothing had existed before. They did restore above mentioned values from the royal period, which is persistently insisted upon as something sensational and new, they sent instructors who – and again on the American model – formed and trained the police, army and special forces, delivered a huge amount of military equipment and arms, they formed – on paper at least – the construction of a democratic Afghanistan, adequate (note: only in theory) to every democratic country of the West. But all this was functional, or – better to say – created the illusion of functioning only under the protection of foreign troops.

None of strategists and politicians who in collusion ‘created’ new Afghanistan, did even think about Afghanistan as a country with its own history and its traditions, and certainly no one tried to apply a formula known in international relations from not so distant past, namely that every country has the right to develop in accordance with its specific conditions. Instead, to Afghanistan a model of internal organization that is completely strange to that  was imposed . In addition, it was imposed by the occupiers by military coercion. And as the key goal of the occupation was not nation building (it was a side task, ‘just to show’), what was stated as the primary goal at the time when, twenty (20!) years ago, the intervention began, and that was the destruction of the Taliban and Al Quaida has been pushed into the background, especially after Osama bin Laden was assassinated in a film-like operation, which President Obama and his associates followed on screens like a video game. 

Interventionists concentrated on gaining control, though never complete, over the land which is located at the position very interesting, to sy the least, to those strategists preoccupied by the project of American hegemony of the world (no, this is not a conspiracy theory, it is a reality for which there is too much concrete evidence, from almost 800 military bases scattered on all meridians and parallels, through the ‘installation’ of ‘its’ people in key positions in the former socialist states, to overt or barely covert destabilization or overthrow of regimes Washington considers as unsuitble from the position of preserving and defending the interests of the US.

So the Taliban remained present, although at first defeated and forced to the sidelines. Over time however, they began to strengthen again, but as Americans were no longer overly interested, their growth was not suppressed at the root. In parallel, the process of spreading corruption and crime took place, which is in this particular case of special interest (but also dangerous), because Afghanistan has become the main exporter, illegal of course, of opium, ie poppy, which is used for drug production. America was officially pushing the government (which was as much its own, as Afghan) to put an end to it, which proved impossible. First, without poppy farming, half of Afghanistan would have starved and – second – private companies involved in the entire Afghan operation were often involved in drug smuggling at their own level , because it was – what elese – a lucrative business. Drilling ‘a la Marines ’ and modern combat techniques will prove insufficient to create domestic forces capable and willing (this ‘willing’ is especially important!) to take control of the country at the time of the departure of the Americans and NATO allies.

And when Donald Trump last year hastily announced the withdrawal of US forces, and his successor also hastily approached the realization of that promise, there was no one in NATO (which is now, in the words of its Secretary-General ‘deeply disturbed’) who would dare tell the Americans that they all are leaving without finishing the job. Instead, as soon as the ‘boss’ rised from the table, they all hastily follow his example. Declaring confidently (led by President Biden) that it was ‘not inevitable’ for the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan and, in particular, that any comparison to the US fleeing from South Vietnam was totally unfounded. Now, no one can doubt the Taliban rule over the entire country and the burning of documents at the US embassy and helicopters hastily evacuating Americans from Kabul to the airport where military transporters are waiting for them must, simply must remind anyone who still remembers those events of the American departure with the ‘twisted tail’ from Saigon.

So this is the end, an infamous end indeed. But it is, in the long run, much more than that. It is the destruction to dust and ashes of all illusions that the democratic West, led by the United States, brings, as it was once said, a better tomorrow. This is the collapse of moral values, which are so often mentioned, and which – clashing with the interests and calculations of capital – seem to be totally irrelevant. In the past two decades, the Americans and allies have managed to tie tens of thousands of Afghans to their, basically, occupation apparatus, from logistics and translators, domestic staff in embassies, through members at all levels of the administration to members of the military and police forces. These people, along with their families, are ‘marked’. In the eyes of the Taliban, they are helpers of the occupiers, enemies, they are collaborators. What will happen to them, what will happen to girls and young women, those still in school and those educated, what will happen to emancipated women, hardly anyone cares about that. Except, of course, that everyone is ‘very worried’. Desperate Afghans apply to enter countries whose armed forces they have helped, but these applications are slowly being resolved, or rejected. Only some countries in the EU suspended (for now!) deportation to Afghanistan of refugees from that country; most did not, with the explanation that the acceptance of already arrived Afghan refugees could might be interpreted as a signal to potential newcomers to set out for Europe. And they will set out, no doubt about that. And it will not be the migrants, as Europe is naming them hypocritically, but war refugees brought into the situation to seek refuge somewhere ‘undder the sun’(like millions of his compatriots who have already done) just because of the policy waged by America and its European allies.

US President Biden sent additional troops to Afghanistan, but only to protect the evacuation of Americans and he threatened swift and violent response to the Taliban, but again only if they endanger US interests. And that move, better than anything else, exposes all the misery of today’s West. Winners in the Second World War knew (but not forgetting their interests) to create the basis for the existence of Germany and Japan whose ambitions would not endanger world peace. But since those days, capitalism has ‘progressed’. In those days capital used policy, today it rules the policy. And a policy whose sole goal is to pursue the interest of capital, or those owing it, disregarding the interests of others, or grossly violating them, a policy aimed solely at making a profit, no matter how, can lead to only one result: a military, political and moral breakdown such as me we are witnessing in Afghanistan.

If this author, a journalist with half a century of experience in monitoring international relations, could have predicted a little over a month ago in an article entitled ‘Already seen’ what would happen, it is simply not possible that no one and nowhere in Western capitals could not do the same. Of course they could, if they were not blinded by the illusion of their own omnipotence and the arrogance on which stupidity grows, which inevitably leads to collapse, to an inglorious end. And only one question remains: will at least that and at least now be understood by some of those who decide, by those responsible for the tragedy of the people of Afghanistan ?

South Asia

Indian Republic Day: A Black Day for Kashmiris

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India celebrates ‘Republic Day’ on January 26th every year to commemorate the day when the Constitution of India came into effect, replacing the Government of India Act 1935, and making India a republic. However, it is observed as a ‘black day’ in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) because it marks the day when the Indian government stripped the region of its autonomous status and imposed direct rule from New Delhi. Kashmir has been a contentious issue between India and Pakistan since the two countries gained independence in 1947. The people of Jammu and Kashmir were promised a high degree of autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was in effect until August 2019, when the Indian government revoked it. This autonomy included the right to a separate constitution, a separate flag, and laws that were distinct from the rest of India. However, in practice, the Indian government has been involved in suppressing the political and basic rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir and denying them their right to self-determination.

The special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which was revoked by the Indian government in 2019, had given the region a high degree of autonomy and protected its distinct identity. The revocation of this special status has led to widespread protests and resentment among the people of the region, who see it as an infringement on their rights and an attempt by the Indian government to suppress their political and cultural identity and right of self-determination.

The Indian government’s handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has also been criticized by international human rights organizations, who in their recent reports have highlighted how the Indian government has been involved in human rights violations of the people of Kashmir, through the use of excessive force, arbitrary arrests, and censorship of the media. International Human Rights Law forbids the unjustified deprivation of life. The right to life is embodied in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is being flagrantly violated in Kashmiri. India has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well (ICCPR). Which hasn’t prevented it from abusing the law, though.

When the Indian government removed Indian Occupied Kashmir’s special status and sent thousands more troops to the area, the situation for the locals of Kashmir became much tougher. Additionally, India reverted to age-old slavery techniques by enforcing a curfew on the helpless population, cutting off the internet and telecommunications, and detaining political figures, leaving 1.47 billion people cut off from the outside world, devoid of fundamental human rights, and living in dread. Since the repeal of Article 370 and the ensuing curfew, there have been reports of nighttime raids in which youngsters have been kidnapped and tortured, as well as of women being harassed. Intentionally violating both international humanitarian law and human rights law, the Indian military has intentionally dismembered, injured, and several times murdered people during this forceful conquest. The Kashmiri diaspora in the UK and Europe observe “Black Day” on January 26th each year to protest the Indian government’s illegal actions in Jammu& Kashmir. This day marks the anniversary of the Indian Constitution coming into effect in 1950, which provides a pretext for the formalization of Indian control over Kashmir, a region that has been the subject of ongoing conflict and human rights abuses. The diaspora uses this day to raise awareness about human rights abuses and the ongoing conflict in the region, and to call for self-determination for the people of Kashmir. They also call on the international community to break the status quo imposed by the fascist Indian government. For instance, the president of Tehreek-e-Kashmir UK president claimed that “the people of Kashmir have challenged India to take out the forces (one million) from the valley and then celebrate the republic day”. Jammu & Kashmir salvation movement president Altaf Ahmed also call the UN for intervention to protect the rights of Kashmiris.

India has long claimed to be the world’s largest democracy and a champion of human rights. However, it has a long history of human rights abuses and political suppression in the region of Kashmir. Despite India’s claims of being the world’s largest democratic state, it has been involved use of excessive force against peaceful protesters, the imposition of strict curfews and internet shutdowns, and the detention of political leaders and activists in the Kashmir region. The Indian government has also been criticized for its heavy-handed tactics in dealing with the insurgency in the region, which has resulted in widespread human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and enforced disappearances. The Indian government has also failed to provide the people of Kashmir with basic democratic rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to self-determination.

It is certainly true that the Indian government’s actions in the region of Kashmir have been widely criticized for human rights abuses and the suppression of political dissent. The deployment of a large number of security forces in the region, along with heavy-handed tactics, have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and a lack of protection for the people of Kashmir. This is in contrast to the protection of basic human and democratic rights, which are supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens of India by the Constitution. How a democratic state can be the largest human rights violator? A self-proclaimed secular state which does not give the rights of minorities cannot be a democratic republic state.

The situation in Kashmir raises questions about the Indian government’s commitment to protecting the rights of all of its citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion. A democratic state should ensure that all citizens are protected and treated fairly under the law, but the actions of the Indian government in Kashmir suggest that this is not always the case. Similarly, a self-proclaimed secular state like India should ensure that all religious groups are treated fairly, but the Indian government has been criticized for its treatment of minority groups in the country, particularly the Muslim population of Kashmir.

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A Brief History of British Imperialism in India

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Map, "The Indian Empire and surrounding countries" (1909), Imperial Gazetteer of India. Via Wikipedia

The British Empire

The British Empire or Kingdom was an imperial entity that changed the global order in every way imaginable. The Kingdom of Great Britain was conceived in 1707 when Scotland and Wales joined England under the sovereignty of the Crown. Having ruled for three centuries, its imperialist tendencies had started to show quite early in the 17th century when Britain lay claim to its very first colony in Jamestown, Virginia. Imperial tendencies refer to the aggressive and expansionist ideology that had been donned by the Empire. British imperialism refers to the attempts and following successes of Britain in expanding its power territorially. It did this by infiltrating various regions of the world and forming colonies; though the colonies were self-managed for the most part, they were answerable to the monarchy and were exploited thoroughly without any compensation. Their foreign policy was to self-portray as traders and travelers and then obtain regional control over time. It was a global phenomenon, and it was majorly aided by England’s foray into maritime expansion. Shipping routes were new and undiscovered which led to new lands ripe for exploration and exploitation. There was also a certain rush within the Empire to expand due to the competitive nature of the international system at that time. It was a challenging race for control between England, Spain, France, and Holland.

The colonized regions of the world include North America, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong), Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya), and more. Around sixty-five current nation-states gained independence from the Empire. However, Britain left behind deep scars within the system that are detrimental to progress to this day.

Geopolitical

The British monarchy played a dominant role in one of the world’s greatest tragedies – The Transatlantic Slave Trade which lasted from about the 16th century to the 19th century. It altered the geopolitical dimensions of the world through massive population displacements. Even though later on it called for the Abolition (1833) and Emancipation of slavery and slaves – it had been a decisive enough move to alter world history.

Economic

The formation of colonies was for both political and economic power. They were sources of power with a combined manpower of over 450 million people. The colonies presented as pure profit as the natives and slates weren’t given adequate fiscal compensation. Working for pennies on the dollar, the indigenous populations were forced to work in less than favorable working conditions for long taxing hours. The major trade from colonies consisted of sugar, spices, silk, cotton, salt, silver, gold, ivory, tobacco, tea, and more. Many of these such as mining metals and extracting sugar are incredibly labor-intensive works.

The empire used various tactics to carve out strongholds in their regions of choice. The establishment of trading companies – Hudson Bay Company and East India Company, and Strait Settlements.

Socio-cultural

The Britishers have been responsible for most of the socio-cultural divide in the Subcontinent. Before their arrival in 1600s, the region was flourishing under the Mughal Rule with various castes and religions coexisting peacefully. Once the Empire came into control, they sowed seeds of discord amongst the masses along racial and religious lines. The promotion of white supremacy and the English language enveloped the people in a sense of inferiority that still rears its head to this day. The Muslim-Hindu divide became more pronounced after the War of Independence in 1857.

Indian Subcontinent

Formation of the East India Company

In the last months of the year 1600, a group of London-based traders asked for a royal charter – a document that essentially brings legal recognition to organizations and declarations and is granted by the monarch of the time, in order to expand their trade to the East Indies via new naval routes. They wanted to set up a new organization called The East India Company in the Indian subcontinent due to its massive potential. The request was granted by Queen Elizabeth I and the merchants set out, headed by James Lancaster. Once they reached it, they had to first request permission to establish their company. Sir Thomas Roe was sent forward to conduct negotiations with Mughal Emperor Jahangir who was eventually won over by the British charm. Finally, the company set up shop in Surat in the first decade of the 17th century.

Entrance into Politics

The initial interest of the Britishers was indeed purely economic and the company was working independently of the Kingdom. However, soon it became a full-blown empire of sorts with its own armed forces and land. They became responsible for almost half the goods being exported out of India. Their trade included spices, silk, cotton, dye, ammunition, glass, clay-made goods, opium, and tea. Their control over the remaining pillars of the state – Military and Politics, was initiated by General Robert Clive. Clive was a member of the EIC who joined the company army and led it to victory against Siraj-ud-Daulah – The Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. As he replaced the Nawab as the new governor of Bengal, it marked the start of British incursion into Indian politics. As another century passed and as India became more valuable to England, the Crown took over ruling in 1857 after the War of Independence, eventually dissolving East India Company in 1874.

British Raj

The British rule, as known in India – British Raj, was significantly more parasitic than the East India Company was with its ventures. It managed to destroy systems that had been thriving for centuries.

Disregarding Traditional Ways

British economy brought with it a complete disregard for cultural sentimentality and practices. They were in a global race for capital and territory, something which was not compatible with the traditional practices of the Indian people. They were made to abandon their ancestral teachings and ways of craftsmanship to fall in line with the mechanized ways of the British economy. Cheaper machine-made products replaced handmade goods. Those who could not work for hours in factories or toil away on the fields were suddenly out of jobs. There was a massive decline in employment in the vulnerable sectors of society – women, the elderly, and disabled communities.

Economic Policies

Forced labor and poor pay weren’t the only means through which British imperialism was ripping Indian society into shreds. There was a hefty price to pay because of their economic policies introduced in 1813, the repercussions of which can still be felt in modern times. The infamous policy of ‘One Way Free Trade’ which was introduced in 1813 set forth a precedent for British trade. According to it, British exports into India were not taxed, nor were they met with any tariffs, while Indian exports were taxed heavily. India was drained. It meant that Britain was working with a pure profit off of Indian resources and labor while actively suppressing any nationalized economy of the subcontinent.

Class Divide

England was front and center in creating and cementing a class divide within India. White supremacy was prevalent and with it came a heavy dose of linguistic racism. English was the primary mode of trade and communication in the upper echelons. The English Education Act was passed in 1835 which got funds reallocated for restructuring educational institutions for the sole purpose of making English the language of instruction and discussion.

Famines

Once World War II was initiated in 1939, Britain was up against Axis Powers – Germany, Italy, and Japan. Although it had the support of other Allied powers, still the cost was too high for Britain to bear due to its resources being spread out amongst the colonies all over the world. It directed the cash flows to the war efforts leading to massive famines in India. Overall, during its imperial rule, the Crown contributed to no less than 12 famines in India spanning from the years 1769-1944. The most atrocious one was The Bengal Famine. Lasting for little over a year, this famine set India back decades as it slaughtered millions and led to an internal economic collapse as well, sending many tumbling below the poverty line. The money that could have preserved the masses was instead used to fund arms and ammunition.

The Disintegration of Hindu-Muslim Relations

The British and their colonial legacy are responsible for the religious disharmony that is seen in modern-day India. The Britishers borrowed the divide-and-rule philosophy from Julius Caesar and used it to segregate the communities of India. The Sepoy Mutiny saw a religious fracture in the social fabric of the subcontinent which isolated both Hindus and Muslims – a previously co-habiting community into separate metaphorical corners. It eventually led to the Muslims forming an in-group mentality due to the common suffering. This ‘Us vs Them’ approach led to the 1947 partition and is still visible in modern-day India keeping the socio-religious conflict alive.

Conclusion

Much of the western world and most of Britain especially is built upon the backs of colonial labor. Their infrastructure, factories, and entire social standing are built because of the free and forced labor of the former colonies. Excess taxation and plunder are the only reasons why Britain survived the industrialization of the world and managed to maintain its position at the top.

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Hindutva has overshadowed Indian Republic Ideology

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India Modi

India observes Republic Day on January 26 each year to honor the 1950 Constitution of India, which succeeded the Government of India Act (1935) as the country’s governing law. Following decolonization, India’s new constitution was secular, emphasizing a reasonable separation of religion and state matters rather than strict demarcation as in many Western democracies. However, the political victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in the late 1990s and past six years of Moodi’s victory, deduced an obvious Hindu interpretation of democracy that differs from the existential western form of democracy.  Religious content has increased in India’s electoral environment (BJP). The post-colonial era has conveyed an alternative nationalism, one that is founded not on secular ideas but rather on the idea that Hindu culture and Indian culture are inseparable. Moodi is ready to transform India into a contemporary Hindu version of controlled democracy through his widespread advocacy of Hindutva ideology.

The secularism of the Indian Republic has always been opposed by the Hindutva movement. A significant portion of Muslims were persuaded to remain in India instead of migrating to the newly founded Islamic state of Pakistan because, at the time, independent India proclaimed itself a secular state, offering freedom to all minority groups as well as citizens’ fundamental rights. All those who supported secularism were perished tragically due to the brutality of the rising Hindu extremism. Even Mahatma Gandhi, the most influential Hindu leader, was assassinated by the RSS because of his secular vision. Since then, Hindutva has become the core of every right-wing political group in India, including the RSS, Shiv Sena, Hindu Mahasbha, and BJP, led by Narendra Modi.

Since many years, termite fascism—which rejects equality—has been encroaching on India in the form of Hindutva. Apparently, in present day India, the Hindu Rashtra is theoretically opposed to caste discrimination against political Hindus. Modi’s ordinary beginning and ascension to authority offer conclusive proof of a free and fair modernity. However, in practice, Hindutva is ready to accept the daily coercions that characterize contemporary Indian society. Instead of assuring the due rights of minorities residing in India, the parliament validated the communal, majoritarian, and intolerable Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)  – 2019 (CAA) followed by Indian High Court’s suspicious decision on the Babri Masjid.  By fabricating a “Muslim threat” to support the BJP’s anti-Muslim actions, Hindutva has exacerbated social divisions in India. Undoubtedly, right-wing Hindu nationalism threatens India’s constitutional foundations by establishing a Hindu Rashtra. This includes the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the removal of Kashmir’s autonomous status, and the Kerala hijab ban. Fascism is reshaping itself in India. It has infiltrated Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, and now seriously endangers Indian democracy.

Similarly, the inauguration of a Hindu temple in Ayudha on August 5, 2020 (the same day a year after Article 370 was revoked) in lieu of a Mughal-era mosque razed by a right-wing Hindu mob in 1992. This confirms that the BJP has re-energized Savarkar’s plan of Hindutva as a political religion, although in a decidedly populist tone. Conservatism is now increasingly couched in current class semantics (“rich” and “poor”) rather than ancient caste terminology. Some people are considered more equal than others. Muslims, Christians, Marxists, and anti-caste campaigners are the new targets of prejudice and rejection. Individuals under such categories would be deemed political Hindus if they accepted Hindutva. In the new Hindu government, the lines are porous, and everything is negotiable.

Here, the point of concern is whether secularism would continue to serve India’s central philosophy. Perhaps it would be determined by a confluence of political factors, specifically the BJP’s future electoral success and the tactics the opposition uses to challenge the ruling party. Hindu nationalism is stripping India of one of its greatest strengths at a time when nations all over the world are struggling to deal with religious diversity. Therefore, it may not be incorrect to say that Hindu nationalism has an unquestionable sphere of influence over Indian politics and society, despite its evidently xenophobic emergence under the BJP. In fact, the revival of caste identities, which frequently threaten religious identities, is indirectly detrimental to secularism. The BJP has consistently attempted to adopt discriminatory policies to exploit caste-based individualities. In sum, India’s commitment to secularist republic tradition is now in doubt given the political dominance of the BJP’s trademark of Hindu nationalism.

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