Empire In Search Of Graveyard Signals Faux Concern For Afghan Women

Source: “The War In Afghanistan Is Bad Politics And Bad Foreign Policy” Defense One  October 7, 2018

One of the few good things the Trump administration did in office was enter into the Doha pact to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. They did so by negotiating with the odious Taliban, insurgents riding on religious extremism in their quest to rid their country of foreign invaders. 

Now the Biden administration is signalling that the May 1 withdrawal date is a non-starter. No surprises there: challenging China is unlikely to include abandoning military outposts right on their border. 

Biden et al. are also signalling their deep concern for the well-being of Afghan women. Because decades of military occupation have made Afghanistan literally the worst place on the planet to be female. Wait…


Source: “Once Upon a Time In Afghanistan” by Mohammad Qayoumi in Foreign Policy 


For those with a historical perspective, memories of Afghan women attending universities and working as professionals under a Soviet-sponsored regime endure. The proxy war between the U.S.-sponsored mujahadeen and the Soviet-Afghan government in the 1990’s began to erode quality of life for women and girls who were bombed, forced to flee as refugees, and trafficked for sex. Repression of women’s rights under the pretext of Islamic law was the icing on that particular cake.

The CIA has actually been bragging on Twitter lately about supporting the mujahadeen “freedom fighters” against the USSR.

As we know by know, the CIA has spent decades arming militias around the planet in order to topple governments that are resistant to capitalist exploitation by the U.S. and its allies. They used to do this covertly, but in the declining days of empire, chest thumping displays of prowess are in order I guess.

Predictably, the corporate press have chimed in to manufacture consent for continuing the U.S.’s longest war.

Because, really, things have been going so well in Afghanistan under military occupation. Maybe the U.S. should just stay because deciding to withdraw could be “complicated” right?

From an Associated Press article dated April 8:

Afghanistan, a country in turmoil, has been trying to inoculate millions of children against polio but the recent killing of three female vaccinators has put the country’s campaign in doubt. However, brave women of the country remain determined to continue efforts in the face of danger and violence.

Unknown gunmen shot vaccination workers at two separate locations in the eastern city of Jalalabad on March 30 killing two volunteers and one supervisor in the polio immunization program, all of them women, as they carried out door-to-door vaccinations.

That’s right. Afghanistan is struggling after 20 years of military occupation, preceded by 10 years of civil war, preceded by 10 years of proxy war, to vaccinate for a disease eradicated in my childhood (and I am old). That’s how poor they are, and that’s how low quality of life has sunk on our watch. Life expectancy for Afghans born in the 21st century is less than 65, retirement age for those of us in the heart of the evil empire. 

Biden won’t get out of Afghanistan for the same reason Trump, Obama, and Bush didn’t: there’s plenty of good money to be made supplying the army with the tools of the trade, to quote Country Joe and the Fish. His gargantuan $715 billion “defense” budget request exceeds that of Trump by an inflation index and will no doubt pass with little debate and bipartisan fealty from the corporate flunkies in Congress.

A nation enduring a pandemic without universal health care, in which 25% of brown and Black children experience hunger each week, with millions literally unhoused, is in a very insecure position. Imperial expansion will not remedy what ails us, but most dying empires continue trying to expand right up to the moment when they hit the wall. Often, in Afghanistan.

The Cult Of Celebrity Is Not Our Friend


Which version of Philip will you remember?

I’ve long been fascinated by the role that celebrity worship (yes, I think that’s an accurate term) plays in the narrative management that keeps a greedy 1% in power hogging our common resources.

The death of Prince Philip at age 99 is a good occasion to reflect on this psychological weapon of the rich against the working classes. 

An aristocratic parasite whose brother-in-laws were literal Nazis, nasty and mean by reputation, Philip will ironically be mostly remembered on this side of the pond as portrayed by an actor in the Netflix series “The Crown.” You know: younger, handsomer, and a boon companion of the plucky queen. Loving father (hard to type that with a straight face), etc. 

This sort of thing — the inexplicable fascination ordinary humans have for individual members of the elites that are crushing the life out of them — has been going on since at least Shakespeare’s time. Recall if you will the opening scene of Julius Caesar where two patricians admonish the rabble for being out in the streets in their best i.e. not work clothes. Eager to see the triumphant Caesar parade by, Shakespeare’s plebians are indifferent to advice that Caesar recently killed rival general Pompey.


So a Renaissance playwright projected his own generation’s fascination with the cult of personality onto Roman citizens on the verge of imperial decay.

Propaganda has become much more sophisticated in our day. While ancient Assyrian warrior princes commissioned their own accolades (cuneiform message for the literate extols the fertilizing powers of King Ashurnasirpal)

the royal family in Windsor Castle has the BBC and Netflix to do this for them.

The imperial presidency in the U.S., upstart branch of the brutal colonial projects launched from England’s shores centuries ago, has its own faux populist stories told by experts. 

Thus we see a lot of attention paid to the pets brought to the White House by various CEOs of USA, Inc.

The propaganda effort starts early. Note the link in my last paragraph to National Geographic for Kids. 

If you doubt it, check out corporate publications like Time for Kids.

I had a taste of the cult of celebrity when I ran against Susan Collins for her seat in the U.S. Senate last year. Based on my experiences, I’d say a lot of projection is involved. People are eager to support a personification of their values in part because (they think) it relieves them of the responsibility for fixing the mess of late stage capitalism that we find ourselves in. Months later, I am still receiving effusive notes of thanks for my attempt to crack the corporate duopoly’s stranglehold on Congress.

You’re welcome, but the real point is: 

what are you going to do about climate crisis, galloping poverty and homelessness, and Cold War belligerence marching us toward WWIII?