Ed is one of my co-defendants in
Thirty Days in
Kabul, or Seen Through a Keyhole Afghanistan
Tuesday 20 September 2011
by: Ed Kinane, Truthout | News Analysis
Afghan police officers, September 14, 2011. (Photo: Kuni Takahashi / The New York Times)
As I finalize this article, The Associated Press (9/14) reports that the
Few here in the States have firsthand knowledge of
Haunted by this gap in my own education, this summer, I spent 30 days in
Nervous, Armed Men
Kabul is a city of sandbags and nervous, armed men, both on foot and in big, shiny, urgently honking vehicles. In
Early on, we are told that, according to the Red Cross, the area is enduring the worse security situation in 30 years. Those with a stake in how things are dread the talked about departure of the
Our delegation is restricted in our movements. Do we avoid venturing forth from the clipped lawns and rose gardens of our guest house compound? Hardly. But we stay inside those high walls until our driver arrives and we quickly hop in his van. Our unflappable driver, with preternatural reflexes, plunges us into what must be some of the densest, scariest, least-regulated - no traffic lights - traffic on the planet.
We're off to visit a primary school, an orphanage, a women's co-op, a photo gallery, a de-mining museum, a refugee camp. Or we see the zoo - with its pack of scrawny wolves and its flock of vultures. On one of the few evenings we stay out after dark, we attend a
We have 40 or so meetings. We sit down with teachers, journalists, editors, social entrepreneurs and with the staff of various NGOs - internationals, Afghan-Americans and Afghans. Whether guarded or candid, perplexing or illuminating, each encounter provides a piece (a figment?) of the puzzle. We glimpse complexities and contradictions - and tragedies - some beyond our sheltered imaginations.
I journeyed to
Few of our contacts in
A few of our meetings are inspiring. We spend an hour with Malalai Joya (her pseudonym). Malalai, a young woman barely five-feet tall, only survives by moving with her guards from safe house to safe house. She was elected to Parliament from a remote region, but was drummed out of that august body for publicizing the war crimes of several of her parliamentary colleagues. While this notoriety led to international speaking tours, it also led to assassination attempts.
Getting our directions via cell phone, we don't know where we'll meet Malalai until moments before we arrive. We enter one of those unmarked compounds on a nameless street (typical of
There isn't space here to go into Malalai's remarks, or to convey the care and courage she radiates. Suffice it to say Malalai is not one of those who see their interests entwined with those occupying her country. Check out her memoir, "A Woman Among Warlords" (Scribner, 2009).
The Elephant's Trunk
Given how tense and militarized the city itself is, we choose not to distain whatever security it does offer. But such constraints reveal how illusory any
From our glimpses of the Afghan countryside, it's clear that
Swollen with internal refugees,
I belabor this point because I was taken aback by how many of those we met in the capital favor an ongoing
Some, especially among the NGO strata, have a stake in the status quo. Why not? For now, it seems to work well enough for those with internationally derived incomes. Without the invader, such perks would vanish. But I keep wondering how rural Afghans - already savaged by the occupation and by those resisting the occupation - would see things. Confined to
My few weeks in
In early November, Ed will be one of over 30 activists prosecuted for having protested the Reaper drone by "dying-in" last April at the main gate of Hancock Air Base near
Ed Kinane is an essayist and anti-state terror activist based in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs