Today’s propaganda: we must fight in Afghanistan to help its women
Summary: An amnesic American public provides easy subjects for propaganda. Coincidentally this media campaign appears several months after a CIA memo proposing it. Part one of a series about women as a casus belli for the Af-Pak War.
America fights in Afghanistan as women’s protectors, according to the latest media barrage. Fortunately we’re amnesic. Otherwise we’d ask about our role overthrowing the secular (and communist) regime in Afghanistan, installing a series of Islamic regimes. And ask about our invasion of Iraq, overthrowing a secular (and tyrannical) regime to install a theocratic Islamic regime. Our actions destroy women’s rights, than we fight to restore them — wrecking the nation not once, but twice. It’s the Pax America.
Also entertaining: watching our geopolitical experts and journalists obediently jump through hoops held by government officials. No cause and effect, of course. Just coincidental that their leaps follows the hoop.
Other posts in this series:
(2) About our sudden concern for Afghanistan’s women (& the desperate search for a reason to fight)
(3) A non-violent crusade giving rights to the world’s women!
(4) Subjugation of women anywhere threatens US national security!
- A note from the past
- The CIA connection
- A sample of articles urging war for women, including the current barrage
- Posts about propaganda and info warfare
- Afterword and contact info
(1) A note from the past
From “Revisiting Afghanistan: A Conversation with Najibullah“, Alan Brody (22 years with UNICEF), Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter 2008 — Mohammed Najibullah was President of Afghanistan from 1986 – 1992 (Wikipedia). This probably was not the first discussion of this tactic.
It was an anomaly, throughout the 1980s, that the West was empowering mujahideen groups who were burning down schools, banning girls from being educated, trying to cut women off from basic opportunities or even health care, and preaching ideologies of xenophobic hatred. The CIA and others did all of this in the interest of bringing down a government that, in the areas of social development at least, stood for secular and progressive Western values.
(2) A note from the present
While we fight for Afghanistan’s women, we need not ask if they want our help — our troops, drones, and bombs. Still, one Afghanistan women has dared to speak and question her better’s opinion: “A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan, Malalai Joya, op-ed in The Guardian, 30 November 2009 — “If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war, he will betray his own message of hope and deepen my people’s pain.” Excerpt:
I have said before that by installing warlords and drug traffickers in power in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel on these flames, and this week’s announcement of upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.
Already this year we have seen the impact of an increase in troops occupying Afghanistan: more violence, and more civilian deaths. My people, the poor of Afghanistan who have known only war and the domination of fundamentalism, are today squashed between two enemies: the US/Nato occupation forces on one hand and warlords and the Taliban on the other. While we want the withdrawal of one enemy, we don’t believe it is a matter of choosing between two evils. There is an alternative: the democratic-minded parties and intellectuals are our hope for the future of Afghanistan.
It will not be easy, but if we have a little bit of peace we will be better able to fight our own internal enemies – Afghans know what to do with our destiny. We are not a backward people, and we are capable of fighting for democracy, human and women’s rights in Afghanistan. In fact the only way these values will be achieved is if we struggle for them and win them ourselves.
After 8 years of war, the situation is as bad as ever for ordinary Afghans, and women in particular. The reality is that only the drug traffickers and warlords have been helped under this corrupt and illegitimate Karzai government. Karzai’s promises of reform are laughable. His own vice-president is the notorious warlord Fahim, whom Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch describes as “one of the most notorious warlords in the country, with the blood of many Afghans on his hands”.
Of course, how could a women in Afghanistan know what’s best for her? That’s what westerners are for, to determine such things for the betterment of primitive peoples.
(3) The CIA connection
Here is what appears to be a CIA” special Red Cell memorandum”. Per the CIA website), the CIA’s Red Cell were created in 2001 to take “a pronounced out-of-the-box approach that will provoke thought and offer an alternative viewpoint on the full range of analytic issues.” See this excerpt from “Afghanistan: Sustaining West European Support for the NATO-led Mission — Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough“, 11 March 2010 — Classified as CONFIDENTIAL/NOFORN (not for distribution to non-US citizens). Posted at Wikileaks.
The Afghanistan mission’s low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Berlin and Paris currently maintain the third and fourth highest ISAF troop levels, despite the opposition of 80% of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments, according to INR polling in fall 2009.
… French and German commitments to NATO are a safeguard against a precipitous departure, but leaders fearing a backlash ahead of spring regional elections might become unwilling to pay a political price for increasing troop levels or extending deployments. If domestic politics forces the Dutch to depart, politicians elsewhere might cite a precedent for “listening to the voters.” … A consistent and iterative strategic communication program across NATO troop contributors that taps into the key concerns of specific Western European audiences could provide a buffer if today’s apathy becomes tomorrow’s opposition to ISAF, giving politicians greater scope to support deployments to Afghanistan.
… Conversely, messaging that dramatizes the potential adverse consequences of an ISAF defeat for Afghan civilians could leverage French (and other European) guilt for abandoning them. The prospect of the Taliban rolling back hard-won progress on girls’ education could provoke French indignation, become a rallying point for France’s largely secular public, and give voters a reason to support a good and necessary cause despite casualties.
… Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.
(4) A sample of articles urging war for women, including the current barrage
- “A Feminist Case for War?”, Michelle Goldberg, American Prospect, 27 October 2009
- “the Strongest Case for the Afghan War”, Bernard Finel (American Security Project), 2 November 2009
- “What if we fail in Afghanistan?“, Steve Coll, The New Yorker, 16 November 2009
- “The Ethical Case for War in Afghanistan (is Strong but Insufficient)“, Bernard Finel (American Security Project), 23 November 2009 — As shown by the title, a nuanced view.
- “The ‘Ten-Dollar Talib’ and Women’s Rights - Afghan Women and the Risks of Reintegration and Reconciliation“, Human Rights Watch, 13 July 2010
- “Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban“, TIME, 29 July 2010
- Women and Islam: The real test of our values, David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy, 3 August 2010
- Women, Islam, Afghanistan, President Obama, and Andrew Sullivan, David Rothkopf, Foreign Policy, 5 August 2010
The last two, by Rothkopf, are in some ways the most interesting. The next post will examine them.
(5) Posts about propaganda and info warfare
- News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2009
- 4GW at work in a community near you , 19 October 2007 — Propaganda warming us up for war with Iran.
- Successful info ops, but who are the targets?, 1 May 2008
- The most expensive psy-war campaign - ever!, 13 July 2008
- Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008
- How the Soviet Menace was over-hyped – and what we can learn from this, 13 October 2009
- Another example of war advocates working their rice bowls, 24 December 2009
- Think-tanks bribe journalists to promote our wars, 24 December 2009
- Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010
- Another sad little bit of agitprop, this time from John Nagl, 28 February 2010
- Dumbest headline of the week, 1 March 2010
- A note about practical propaganda, 22 March 2010
- The similar delusions of America’s Left and Right show our common culture – and weakness, 26 March 2010
(6) Afterword and contact info
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