NATO says it is in talks with Russia to boost cooperation in the Afghan war, including expanding an existing transit agreement to allow for armored vehicles to be transported to and from Afghanistan. … NATO spokesman James Appathurai says the former Cold War rivals are also looking at opening a new center for training counter-narcotics agents near St. Petersburg in Russia." – AP
Dominant Social Theme: The West and NATO are making the world a safer place, especially in Afghanistan.
Free-Market Analysis: It is becoming clearer and clearer that one of the reasons that the West (and particularly the US) is in Afghanistan is as a kind of trial run for a larger NATO. The problem that NATO has had in the past is that it was originally constructed to shield Europe from the USSR. Now that the USSR is no longer around, NATO leaders have had to reconstruct its purpose from the ground up. They have done so in a kind of muzzy way, deciding that the purpose of NATO is to protect the "alliance" (still mostly European) from a variety of threats – terrorist or even "cyber." They have substituted, in other words, quantity for focus.
The USSR made sense as an enemy. Hyped as it was, the idea of a massive country such as the USSR mustering a huge army and building huge nuclear weapons provided NATO with a certain logical impetus. Lacking the USSR, NATO has had to rebuild its mission and Afghanistan has been helpful in this regard. Not only is it supposed to be the proving ground for a new NATO, but NATO is reorganizing and recalibrating its mission as it goes. Thus Afghanistan has proven to be a most critical encounter for the new NATO; its leaders are most loath to leave without declaring victory and to depart in disarray would be an even worse fate.
Of course, the real leaders of NATO from out point of view operate behind the scenes. The Anglo-American elite is obviously and evidently orchestrating this war for a variety of reasons. And while there is a NATO angle to it, the larger reason for the war, as we have pointed out many times, is to pacify the stubborn Islamist tribes in the area, mainly the Pashtuns that the British fought to a draw 100 years ago. That was the high point of the British empire – a clash between the West and the free Islamist peoples of Asia – and it is being replayed today. The NATO issues are a kind of subplot.
We have also pointed out that we believe the West is confronting the region with a hammer-and-tongs approach. In the Middle East in such funny little countries as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Anglo-American axis has configured an Islam that is congruent with Western central banking requirements. In Afghanistan, Iraq and even Pakistan, the process is ongoing. The idea is to impress upon Islam that one way or another global economics are going to be rationalized on Western terms.
We note that Afghanistan already has a central bank and other accoutrements of Western finance. We recently looked up "Afghan Stock Exchange" on Wikipedia. Here is what we found: "The Afghanistan Stock Exchange is part of the planned Economic development of Afghanistan. It will operate Afghanistan's first liquid exchange to offer the most diverse array of financial products and services. AFX will bring together cash equities exchanges and foreign exchanges, to be the leader for listings, trading in cash equities, equity and interest rate derivatives, bonds and the distribution of market data in Afghanistan."
Now we don't know who is going to operate this stock exchange, but it is obviously in the works. This is how Western capitalism operates after all. Too little is made of the connection between stock exchanges and central banking, though much is made of the connection between central banking and the graduated income tax which is seen as necessary to pay off the interest of the debt that the larger government accumulates. But in fact stock exchanges along Western (American) lines are part of the process of managing the booms and busts that central banks inevitably generate.
Because too few people understand the inevitability of booms and busts, nor the connections between central banks and exchanges, the middle class is inevitably damaged by market downturns. Only those who have some understanding of Austrian economics have a chance, in our view, of participating in the stock market on equal footing with market pros. Of course there are other successful ways to "play" the market, but understanding macro-economic forces are perhaps the most efficient for people who don't want to spend all their spare time involved in market analysis.
We doubt there are many in Afghanistan who consider a stock market a priority at this point. But nonetheless, this is what the powers-that-be plan for the country if they are not kicked out. And while that may happen, NATO and its partners have no plans on leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The latest date being mulled in 2014. Increasingly lip service only is given to the date of 2011 mandated by US President Barack Obama. The idea is that the withdrawal will "begin" at that point but that it will be dictated by events on the ground and by how quickly internal Afghan forces are able to "take over" from NATO.
None of this is moot. There is real pain involved. The powers that be may want to continue the Afghanistan war to subdue the Pashtuns (and increasingly the Punjabis) and to ensure that NATO has a chance to solidify its new role as Western-pacifier-to-the-world, but in the end the people of the entire region suffer. And while it has been argued that the West must stay the course to help the women and children of Afghanistan, that is not necessarily a clear-cut advantage. Allied drones kill women and children regularly and depleted uranium weapons have spread radioactive dust across the country, poisoning the environment and civilians supposedly being helped.
Increasingly Afghans themselves are starting to speak out. Here is an excerpt from an interview with the increasingly famous Malalai Joya:
Why the US Should Leave Afghanistan: An Interview with Malalai Joya, Former Afghan Member of Parliament … Former Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya, who has survived five assassination attempts, is an outspoken critic of the occupation of her country. While on a speaking tour of four cities across Canada last month, she sat down with Toward Freedom in Vancouver to discuss the state of Afghanistan.
Miles Ashdown: Ms. Malalai Joya, thank you for your time. Let's start by talking about NATO's occupation of Afghanistan. You've called for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from your homeland. Tell me why.
Malalai Joya: Because now my people, they're squashed between two powerful enemies. From the sky, occupation forces are bombing, killing civilians – mostly women and children. On the ground, Taliban and warlords together continue their fascism. The US and NATO occupy my country under the name of all beautiful banners of democracy, women's rights, human rights. And for this long time, they shed the blood of our people under the name of war on terror but now they invite Taliban, these terrorists, also to join the government, as now they have secret meetings with these terrorists. It's better [for the US and NATO] to leave Afghanistan then; it's much easier for us to fight one enemy instead of two.
This is a very poignant plea. The Western allied troops have indulged in cynical exploitation of the women of the Middle East and Afghanistan in particular. The latest propaganda has the West fighting a decade-long war to free women from Islamic bondage. But as Ms. Joya points out, the collateral damage is real, while the freedom (which is not necessarily sought) is ephemeral. She makes a further statement about it here:
MA: There are some positive signs coming out of Afghanistan. Since 2001, there's been a seven-fold increase of children going to school – from one million to seven million. More than 90 percent of Afghans now have access to healthcare; in 2001, it was just 10 percent. The constitution grants men and women equality, at least under the law. The children and maternal mortality rates have also been steadily dropping, thanks in part to midwife training programs. Some say a NATO withdrawal means abandoning Afghan women and human rights. What's your response?
MJ: You know there are those people who support the war in Afghanistan who are pro-war, who got fame and wealth from this occupation. Of course, to have good excuse for their occupation, they build some schools [which] we didn't have in the dark period of the Taliban. They build some hospitals while billions of dollars were given under the name of health, reconstruction, etc. But some money they use, through their TVs, to show to the people around the world and to mainstream media that we are doing a good job. There's no question we need helping hand. We need hospitals. We need clinics. We need streets. We need reconstruction of Afghanistan, especially education. We have a lot of orphans and widows. But the money does not go in the right direction. The money does not go to benefit these millions of poor, suffering people of my country.
From our point of view, NATO is not ultimately going to benefit much from Afghanistan. Unless the West can pressure Pakistan into removing Taliban havens from its midst, these Pashtun Islamic fighters will continue to have a place to go to rest and recuperate before joining the battle again. Pakistan simply will not do this in our opinion because it counts on these fighters to sway Afghanistan in Pakistan's direction and away from Indian influence. The alternative the West has is to invade Pakistan aggressively which will basically start a war with 120 million Punjabis. There are already reports of "Pakistani Taliban" – and a good way to encourage that trend would be try to go after the Taliban without permission.
As the war continually extends, the logic is likely ineluctable: NATO and the West will continue to take casualties; NATO countries will continue to remove their troops from Afghanistan and as the economic crisis worsens, the generals who want to pursue the war endlessly will come under ever-increasing pressure to wind down the conflict. It is enormously expensive and there is little direct link left between a "war on terror" and an endlessly slog against an Islamic-tribalist enemy.
It is no doubt true that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan brutally and probably would do so again. On the other hand, the Pashtuns seem to be giving the Taliban tacit support because the Western occupation in Afghanistan is increasingly unpopular. Without the ability to fight in Pakistan, Western troops are simply going to be ground down. The idea that Afghanistan can be pacified by a civilian police force and army remains a most questionable one as the recruits are not being drawn from Pashtun areas but from tribes that have traditionally been Pashtun enemies.
The legacy of this strategy is bound to be civil war not pacification. This is the war that the "new" NATO has chosen as its proving ground. The new NATO is apparently intended to be the army of choice for an elite-initiated global government. It is to serve as an adjunct to the UN evidently and obviously. But in our view, its choice of Afghanistan as a proving ground will only result in yet another failed promotion in a string of elite setbacks.
Such a failure will be a setback for larger elite plans having to do with global governance in our view. And as we attempt to show in our other article in today's issue, there are already many questions about the implementation of increased world governance and how well (or badly) it is going. None of what the elite is pursuing is in our opinion certain. None of it is set in stone. The 21st century is not the 20th.