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Engelhardt writes: "As a mature democracy, we now stand proudly for global indefinite detention, not to speak of the democratic right to send robot assassins to take out those suspected of evil deeds anywhere on Earth. As in any mature democracy, the White House has now taken on many of the traits of a legal system - filling, that is, the roles of prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner."

Presidents Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama at the White House. (photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)
Presidents Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama at the White House. (photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Building a 'Mature' Democracy in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt,

09 March 12


ow primitive the Afghans are!  A New York Times account of faltering negotiations over a possible “strategic partnership” agreement to leave U.S. troops on bases in that country for years to come highlights just how far the Afghans have to go to become, like their U.S. mentor, a mature democracy.  Take the dispute over prisons.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been insisting that the U.S. turn over its prison facility at Bagram Air Base to his government.  (The recently burned Korans came from that prison's library.)  The Obama administration initially refused and now has suggested a six-month timetable for such a turnover, an option Karzai has, in turn, rejected.  No one, by the way, seems yet to be negotiating about a second $36-million prison at Bagram that, TomDispatch recently reported, the U.S. is now in the process of building.

The Times' Alissa Rubin suggests, however, that a major stumbling block remains to any such turnover.  She writes: “The challenges to a transfer are enormous, presenting serious security risks both for the Afghan government and American troops. Many of the estimated 3,200 people being detained [in Bagram's prison] cannot be tried under Afghan law because the evidence does not meet the legal standards required to be admitted in Afghan courts. Therefore, those people, including some suspected insurgents believed likely to return to the fight if released, would probably have to be released because Afghanistan has no law that allows for indefinite detention for national security reasons.”

Honestly, what kind of a backward country doesn't have a provision for the indefinite detention, on suspicion alone, of prisoners without charges or hope of trial?  As a mature democracy, we now stand proudly for global indefinite detention, not to speak of the democratic right to send robot assassins to take out those suspected of evil deeds anywhere on Earth.  As in any mature democracy, the White House has now taken on many of the traits of a legal system -- filling, that is, the roles of prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.

Six months to learn all that (and how to burn Korans, too)?  I don't think so.  Or how about a really mature plan that, according to an Associated Press report, top Pentagon officials are now mulling over: to put whatever U.S. elite special operations forces remain in Afghanistan after 2014 under CIA control.  The reason?  Once they are so lodged, even though their missions wouldn't change, they would officially become “spies” and whoever's running Washington then will be able to swear, with complete candor, that no U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.  Even better, the CIA is conveniently run by former Afghan War commander David Petraeus and the U.S. public would no longer have to be informed about “funding or operations” for those non-troops.  Now, that's how a mature democracy makes the trains run on time!

Had enough?  Then try finding your inner khan by checking out “Green on Blue” by the indefatigable Ann Jones, author of War Is Not Over When It's Over, who knows more about Afghanistan than any of us. your social media marketing partner


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0 # globalcitizen 2012-03-09 18:25
The New York Times, like NPR, is a corporate entity which uses class deformed language and terminology to hide their corruption, despotism and links to Western Fascism.

You have to learn this ideological corruption, where servility to class dogmas, Empire and support for Fascist Zionism REQUIRES corrupt terminology like Allisa Rubin, the writer for the NEW YORK TIMES. Class/empire shills and cheerleaders like these routinely distort reality through half truths, and ommission of major social concerns.

A "mature" democracy is like the "mature", "responsible" corporate hacks who never allow reality to intrude on their servility, corruption by Western totaltitarianis m through class hierarchies, exposed by WIKI LEAKS endlessy. CORRUPTION AND DESPOTISM are class outcomes and are reproduced in the hierarchical "MATURE" corruption, despotis of subservient post colonials states, financed by the fascist CIA WHO prop up the Western corruption and client regimes, like KARZAI or MALIKI of Afghanisan and Iraq.

Glenn Greenwald wrote about this very same corrupt connection and chucked at the NEW YORK TIMES for its exposed false arguments, CORRUPT LIBERALISM degenerating into a defense of Western totaliarianism:

Unintended irony from the NYT

-2 # globalcitizen 2012-03-09 18:49
Glen Greenwald not only shows HOW Western class hierarchies produce PARALLEL CORRUPTION, DESPOTISM, but the kind of class shills, Empire whores produce CORRUPT DESPTOTIC LIBERALS WHO HAVE BECOME TOTALITARIANS/FASCISTS:

The Authoritarian Mind

+1 # Milarepa 2012-03-10 01:33
Generally speaking, as a result of decades of propaganda and lies in mainstream media, Americans are isolated from world affairs. They simply haven't been told what's really going on. At the same time they're being told they're the greatest. Joseph Goebbels said if you lie, tell a big lie and keep repeating it. Now there has been a reawakening through Occupy, so the future looks a little more promising. The complex American capitalism that seems to run the world obviously is hard to beat. But so was the Roman Empire, Hitler's Third Reich and the Soviet Union. History is littered with the bones of empires large and small. The bigger they are the harder they fall.
0 # Milarepa 2012-03-10 03:44
Yes, Tom - how to hold on to something you say you're giving up, that's the challenge. The US wants to be everywhere and leave everywhere - some time in the future. The future is malleable, so six months is a long time in which the situation can, and will, change. New situation, new solution some time in the future. On and on, from month to month, year to year. It's a very very simple game. And who is paying for all this? Those cunning Chinese devils, of course!
+2 # RMDC 2012-03-10 07:39
Tom englehart should not rely on the NYTimes or Associated press for the frame of this article. They are just ignorant of Afghanistan's history.

In fact, in the 1950s very progressive and well organized socialists began to move Afghanistan from a monarchy and feudal society to a parliamentary democracy. The 1964 constitution was a model for all. It guaranteed equal rights to women, re-distributed land to peasants. The 60s and 70s saw tremendous development in Afghanistan. Women gained access to many professions.

The US and old feudal lords that it always supports in any nation of the world could not stand this development and began in the late 70s a terrorist war against the democratic government. It was the US backed mujahadeen war that destroyed civil society in Afghanistan.

It is totally impossible for the US to build a "mature" democracy anywhere in the world. Afghanistan had a "maturing" democracy in the 60s to 80s. The US destroyed that.

There are plenty of people in Afghanistan who remember the 60s-80s and are ready to pick up where they left off -- if only the US would get out of the way. It is the US that keeps the feudal warlords and drug lords in power. Karzai is a warlord and druglord.

Afghans never have been a violent or fundamentalist people.

you'll have to watch all the parts.
+2 # John Locke 2012-03-10 10:04
I think the concept of Democracy is over! where one man, the President, is the judge, jury and executioner, Democracy does not exist...
0 # RMDC 2012-03-11 07:31
I agree with you John Locke -- you namesake brought in the Englightenment and the age of democracy in the late 1600s. Now that era is over. We are moving back into a new form of medievalism and corporate feudalism. The power of governments cannot in any way be said to derive from the people any more. There is no social contract any more. Governments today have absolute powers -- or as Bush used to say "plenary powers." They are rights unto themselves. This is just the old theory of monarchy, without the hereditary aspect.

World history runs in phases or eras. The Englightenment and Age of Democracy was really nice for ordinary people. They gained a lot of power and with that human rights and in many cases decent living standards. But that is all over. We are descending into a new Dark Ages, dominated by corporate overlords and religious and scientific superstitions.

Read Morris Berman, Dark Ages America.
0 # frankdavid 2012-03-10 15:44
the minute the U>S steps out of afghanistan it will revert to tribalism. The billions we spent on infrastructure will disappear in a generation as there is no form of national taxation to support it's upkeep.
0 # RMDC 2012-03-11 07:38
Frankdavid -- you are wrong on all accounts. The second first -- all the money has already disappeared into gangsters, drug lords, and corporate contractors. See the video Afghanistan: On the Money Trail.

Afghanistan will not revert to tribalism. The US created its new form of tribalism as a way to divide and conquer the population. The old tribal war lords are hated by nearly all the people and mostly by the Taliban who are not feudalists at all. Take a look at Kathleen Foster's Afghan Women: A History of Struggle. This is a nice quick history of Afghanistan from the 50s to 90s.

I know someone who was an official in the government of the former king Zahir Shah and he confirms this history.

The 1964 Afghan constitution is a model for all nations. Most people in Afghanistan remember that constitution and want to go back to it. There is nothing tribal about it. They will go back to it IF and WHEN the US completely leaves.

The US has been at war in Afghanistan since the late 70s -- 35 years. It has torn the nation apart. This is one of the great crimes of all human history. When the US finally leaves for good, Afghans will rebuild their democratic, secular, and equality based society. It is the US that keeps the warlords and druglords in power. The US put them back in power after the majority voted for the constitution which took their power as regional feudal lords away.

Stop reading US media.

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