It often appears that “true Afghanistan” is not here in Kabul and not in Jalalabad or Heart either; not in the ancient villages, which anxiously cling to the steep mountainsides.
Many foreigners and even Afghans are now convinced that the “true” Afghanistan is only what is being shown on the television screens, depicted in magazines, or what is buried deep in the archives and libraries somewhere in London, New York or Paris.
It is tempting to think that the country could be only understood from a comfortable distance, from the safety of one’s living room or from those books and publications decorating dusty bookshelves and coffee tables all over the world.
“Afghanistan is dangerous,” they say. “It is too risky to travel there. One needs to be protected, escorted, equipped and insured in order to function in that wild and lawless country even for one single day, or just a few hours.”
When it comes to Afghanistan, conditioned Western ‘rational brains’ of tenure or emeritus professors (or call them the ‘regime’s intellectual gatekeepers’) often get engaged, even intertwined with those pathologically imaginative minds of the upper class ‘refugees’, the ‘elites’, and of course their offspring. After all, crème de la crème ‘refugees’ speak perfect English; they know the rules and nuances of the game. The results of such ‘productive interaction’ are then imprinted into countless books and reports.
Books of that kind become, in turn, what could be easily defined as the ‘official references’, a ‘certified way’ to how our world perceives a country like Afghanistan. Their content is being quoted and recycled.
How often I heard, from the old veteran opinion makers (even those from the ‘left’) – people that I actually used to respect in the past:
“The Soviet era in Afghanistan was of course terrible, but at least many girls there had access to the education…”
It is no secret that ‘many girls had access to education’ in those distant days, but was it really “terrible”, that era? Was it “of course, terrible?” Baseless clichés like this are actually shaping ‘public opinion’, and can be much more destructive than the hardcore propaganda.
Why do those inadequate little men in Washington and New York dream of new wars? Because the empire is near a tipping point.
Washington must either either start a war in Korea, or gets faced down by the North, its carriers ignored, its bombers “sending signals” and making “shows of force” without result. For the empire this is a loss of face and credibility, and an example to others that America can be challenged.
Iran has not caved to Washington’s threats and sanctions and clearly isn’t going to. Another strategic loss, a big one, unless–the hawks seem to think–remedied by a war. Iran wants to trade with Europe and Europe likes the idea. Worse, Iran is becoming a vital part of China’s aim to integrate Europe and Asia economically. To the empire this smelñls of death. The frightened grow desperate.
China shows no signs of backing down in the South China Sea. For Washington, it is either war now, when thinks it might win, or be overshadowed as China grows.
Russia has irrevocably gotten the Crimea, is quietly absorbing part of the Ukraine, and looks as if its side is going to win in Syria. Three humiliating setbacks for the empire. Loss of control of the Mideast would be a strategic disaster for Washington.
Continued control of Europe is absolutely vital. European governments have groveled but now even they grow restless with Washington’s sanction against Russia, and European businessmen want more trade eastward. Growing trade with Asia threatens to loosen Europe’s shackles. Washington cannot allow this.
When you have militarily stupid politicians listening to pathologically confident soldiers, trouble is likely. All of these people might reflect how seldom wars turn out as those starting them expect. Wars are always going to be quick and easy. Generals not infrequently advise against a war but, once it begins, they bark in unison. They seldom know what they are getting into. Note:
The American Civil War was expected to be over in an afternoon at First Manassas. Wrong, by four years and some 650,000 dead.
There is a small courthouse from the ‘British era’, standing right in the center of Hong Kong. It is neat, well-built, remarkably organized and some would even say – elegant.
Earlier this year I visited there with an Afghan-British lawyer, who had been touring East Asia for several months. Hong Kong was her last destination; afterwards she was planning to return home to London. The Orient clearly confused and overwhelmed her, and no matter how ‘anti-imperialist’ she tried to look, most of her references were clearly going back to the adoptive homeland – the United Kingdom.
“It looks like England,” she exclaimed when standing in the middle of Hong Kong. There was clearly excitement and nostalgia in her voice.
To cheer her up even more, I took her to the courthouse. My good intentions backfired: as we were leaving, she uttered words that I expected but also feared for quite some time:
“You know, there are actually many good things that can be said about the British legal system.”
I thought about that short episode in Hong Kong now, as I drove all around her devastated country of childhood, Afghanistan. As always, I worked without protection, with no bulletproof vests, armored vehicles or military escorts, just with my Afghan driver who doubled as my interpreter and also as my friend. It was Ramadan and to let him rest, I periodically got behind the wheel. We were facing countless detentions, arrests and interrogations by police, military and who knows what security forces, but we were moving forward, always forward, despite all obstacles.
From that great distance, from the heights of the mountains of Afghanistan, the courthouse in Hong Kong kept falling into proportion and meaningful perspective.
Watch blockbuster movies from the “south” and chances are you will start to believe that the world is not really such a desperate place. Perhaps you might even get convinced that under the present imperialist and turbo-capitalist global arrangement things can always get better. If you live in a gutter somewhere in Sub-Continent or Africa, you could simply try hard, you could “believe in yourself and love yourself”, you could “listen to your instincts”, and everything may eventually fall into the right places. You could get acknowledged, rewarded and even catapulted from your misery into some plush pastures that are covering the tall green hills of success.
Think twice! Or… don’t think at all – just bury your head in the sand.
There were always books written and films produced just in order to please the Western funding agencies and propaganda machine. I described the process, colorfully, in my recent political/revolutionary novel “Aurora”.
Just think about Kite Runner written by an Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, or about all those bestsellers by Salman Rushdie or Elif Shafak, books about India or Turkey, but intended almost exclusively for a Western audience, and often despised in their native countries.
The works of Rushdie and Shafak can at least qualify as “literature”. But now both the Western markets and mainstream media are demanding more and more of ‘feel good’ rubbish books and movies from poor countries, more and more of those simple, picturesque and ‘positive’ stories that are actually confusing and give false hopes to the local population of many poor countries.
Do you still remember Slumdog Millionaire? How realistic a scenario was that? First of all, it was not even an Indian film; it was a 2008 British movie, directed by Danny Boyle, who also had directed Trainspotting. It took place in the Juhu slum of Mumbai.
In 2011, I filmed in the same Mumbai slum where the movie was produced. I asked many, how likely was such a ‘success scenario’ in that filthy and hopeless neighborhood? The dwellers of the Juhu slum just dismissed the entire charade with derogatory gestures; why even waste precious words?
Today, Iraq is plagued by violence and extreme poverty. But this wasn’t always the case.
The country in the Fertile Crescent has a long and rich agricultural history that has been decimated since the 2003 U.S. invasion. Once the country’s invaluable seed bank was destroyed and its institutions turned to dust, it set the stage for foreign agribusiness giants to swoop in and forever change the face of Iraqi agriculture.
Join Mnar Muhawesh for this segment of ‘Behind the Headline’ as she speaks to Iraqi agriculture expert Dr. Nakd Altameemi. They explore the devastating tolls that war, sanctions and Western corporations have had on Iraq’s once-bustling agriculture sector.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.
The average western mainstream ‘good citizen’ is in a state of satanic trance. In between the yoga classes and eco friendly living they still feel a thirst.
This thirst is shared by their fellow red necks too. The common man in the west has absorbed the propaganda dished out by their governments and media from cradle to school to adulthood and will keep drinking the koolaid to their graves.
But this thirst requires a ritual sacrifice in far away lands of brown and black people ruled by ‘brutal dictators’ as their media constantly trumpets. The lure is too strong, the thirst too deep…they need a feed.
And so they – like a cult – want more war, more blood and gore ! Then they will go in a few years and cast a ballot to cleanse their conscience by participating in ‘democracy’ as they ‘elect’ another bloodhound.
*“…the White Helmets are handling the corpses of people without sufficient safety gear, most particularly with the masks mostly used , as well as no gloves. Although this may seem insignificant, understanding the nature of sarin gas that the opposition claim was used, only opens questions. Within seconds of exposure to sarin, the affects of the gas begins to target the muscle and nervous system. There is an almost immediate release of the bowels and the bladder, and vomiting is induced. When sarin is used in a concentrated area, it has the likelihood of killing thousands of people. Yet, such a dangerous gas, and the White Helmets are treating bodies with little concern to their exposed skin. This has to raise questions.” (from: “Jumping to conclusions; something is not adding up in Idlib chemical weapons attack“)
This morning, under the orders of President Trump, the US military fired a reported 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria, killing at least 6, according to early reports. The false pretext for this is the tired old refrain that “Assad used chemical weapons”, a ‘red line crossed claim’ made–and disproven–in 2013 in Ghouta, and in allegations prior and since. Any actual instances were the western-backed ‘rebels’. All others were fabrications of the NATO aligned media and faux human rights groups.
I’ll keep my own commentary short other than to emphasize that I do not believe for one second that the Syrian government used toxic gases on Idlib last week. My reasons are logical and many, but I will list just a few here and continue with suggested reading/listening:
–The Syrian army had no need to do so, are making advances on the ground in various areas of Syria with conventional means of fighting terrorism. Using a chemical weapon is precisely the ‘red line’ act America and NATO/Gulf/Zionist allies would leap upon to wage their war of ‘regime change’ fully on Syria, as per Libya and Iraq before. Meanwhile, western-backed ‘rebels’ have a history of using toxic gas in Syria (even the UN’s Carla del Ponte admitted this).
-Recently, apparently relations with America, via Trump, had improved. At the time of the alleged gas attacks, relations were looking positive. (That said, today, sadly, Trump has launched an illegal attack on Syria, using at least 59 cruise missiles on a military site and causing unknown deaths. This is an unprovoked act of war. Trump/America have zero evidence that the Syrian government authorized and used toxic gas, something even the United Nations admittedeven the United Nations admitted.)
For the sake of time, because this is an urgent issue that needs clear thinking and a firm stance against American (and Zionist/NATO/Turkish/Gulf) attacks on Syria, I am posting excerpts from a number of good analyses already online. Please share.
“Ex-UK Ambassador: Assad wasn’t behind the chemical attack“, Apr 5, 2017
“Former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford says he believes it is “highly unlikely” that Russia or the Assad regime was behind the attack in Idlib.”
Interview by Italian magazine Antidiplomatico with the author, Andre Vltchek
Q: Please tell us about your recently published book, “Aurora”.
A: Aurora is my latest novel. It is short, but emotionally charged and ‘outrageous’. It breaks many taboos, especially those regarding Western, particularly European culture. You know, so many people have this fetish about European culture being refined and superior to other cultures of the world. I actually don’t think it is, after living in Asia and Latin America for many years… But anyway, in my “Aurora” I also show how this – Western – culture can indoctrinate, brainwash, and destroy.
Q: Only the culture itself, or also the European cultural institutions?
A: Precisely, both! The two main protagonists of “Aurora” are: the German-speaking head of a huge European cultural institution, which is based in an unidentified Southeast Asian country (although many would guess that it is Indonesia), and his antagonist: a lady, a great local artist who literally escaped from her country to Venezuela and there married a revolutionary painter and a muralist. Her name is Aurora.
Hans G is not only the head of a cultural institute; he is also an intelligence officer, as well as a propagandist who uses ‘art’ and the funding of local artists for clear political motives: to depoliticize the country where he is based, to keep it obedient, ignorant, and passive.
Q: Aurora confronts him. How?
A: She does. She sees clearly what Hans G. (and his ‘culture’) is doing to her country. She challenges him. She humiliates him publicly… I don’t want to reveal the entire plot of my novel here… But for Aurora, the main reason for returning to her country is to find out the truth about her sister, who used to be another prominent progressive artist, but who was kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered, mainly by those who were there to ‘promote’ that great European culture!
Q: There are Mozart, Brecht and others appearing throughout your book…
A: In the past, but also during these days, some of the greatest European musicians, writers and painters were actually thoroughly destroyed and prostituted by the elites and by the Church. They were forced to produce technically brilliant but content-wise pathetic and toothless kitsch. Mozart and Brecht, sitting in a bar in an ancient Chilean city of Valparaiso, are discussing the past, the art, although they are mainly remembering that important encounter of Hans G with Aurora, which Mozart actually witnessed, as a ghost. In a way, both Mozart and Brecht are co-narrating “Aurora”.
Frankly, “Aurora” is easy to read, but structurally it is a multi-layered novel, short but conceptually complex.
Q: It is also full of dark humor. How difficult is it to address such serious topics while still making your readers laugh?
A: For me, humor is always essential. I use it in all my writing, in fiction, non-fiction and in the theatre plays. People don’t only want to be ‘educated’ and reminded about the pitiful state of the world: when they read a book, especially a novel, they want to feel, to laugh, to cry, to be alive.
I think that any good fiction can really revolutionize the world; it can also show the reality, much more so than fact-based non-fiction works. That’s why the Western regime makes sure to neutralize, to depoliticize literature, poetry and cinema – because that’s where the inspiration, rebellion, and courage really have their homes. The regime doesn’t bother to censure most of the non-fiction work: because most of the dry and fact-based work would never truly manage to move a critical mass of people, it wouldn’t send millions to the barricades. Only true art can: novels, poetry, and great music. Western art is now hibernating. We have to wake it up, and do it very quickly!
Q: Do you have any plans to publish Aurora in Italy or in other languages besides English?
A: No concrete plans as yet, Aurora was only very recently published in English. But of course I’d love to have it in various languages. If publishers out there would really dare to touch such dynamite, then really why not?!
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
I have been at pains to reconcile my ambivalent feelings on the happenings in our world, alas,I have come to the conclusion that they are a manifestation of what plagues us as human beings rather than a personal identity crisis to resolve. After all, we are talking of a post identity politics reality regardless of the fact that the masses in their pussy hats continue to be dictated about reality via the telly.
As a brown Pakistani Muslim born and raised in Saudi Arabia, it is absolutely surreal to see the world through the eyes of the “me” that once was. It is astonishing. I am the troubled one? I am the pitied one? Am i finally being recognised as the persecuted one? Has the consciousness of the west finally awoken? Really? Am I to rejoice now?
Surveying the flurry of emotions on display, I feel as if I my kin have been heard. Will they finally have a trial for the drone pilot that wiped out a whole wedding celebration in Pakistan? Or will the children maimed receive new prosthetics instead of the used ones from coalition countries? Yes, it is that cynical.
Will someone finally be accountable for the war crimes carried out by the US under Obama? Under Clinton? or Bush?
“No, no, silly boy, heavens be damned, no” a voice tells me in sarcastic laughter. “Have you really gone mad now? Have they finally convinced you that you matter?” it goes on in abject disregard for the “me” that once was.
Here “I” stand, though, having moved, shifted, transformed or rather travelled far afield from the “me” that once was. I do not pray anymore, I do not observe the religious holidays, I do not observe the rituals and I most certainly do not identify as a Muslim. So, am I to be afraid or not ? Once we stop identifying with ideologies the distance allows us to escape a lot of the emotional lures of the narrative being played. I see the truth of my reality; A pawn like the rest of you with your faiths,beliefs,identities and dream-like realities. Identity politics is a mindset that has locked in the participants into a perpetual loop of despair.
Trump or no Trump, US fascism has been alive and well since 1945, accelerated since 1989 and has never been stronger. Fascism permeates our daily lives, it is at our places of learning, our places of exercise, our places of residence, our entertainment spots and in our societal exchange. It is an invisible guest in our daily discourse. It is the alienation of ourselves from our kin, our fellow man and our environment. Everything must be calculated, it must be costed, must be accounted for and prescribed. It must be measured, it must be dictated and legislated.
Somehow the infinite possibility of how existence can manifest itself is not valid. It must be held accountable! We shall do things a certain way, in a certain fashion, with certain rules and consequences. I am talking of the rules in our lives that come from an unknown and manifest through the drones of people who will accept without question what is enforced from the halls of power.
Yet, Trump is the new fascist? Really? It just started 10 days ago apparently! Hallelujah!
These protests have nothing to do with freedom, liberty, recognition of Muslims or of values. When your spokespersons are George Soros and Madeline Albright, you have to look at what you are so upset about. You are being played like a violin.
My Pakistani friends are galvanised, the news papers are dishing out headline after headline. Is Pakistan next on the list is the question on everyone’s mind? The Empire and its mouthpieces are plenty and their blind adherents many. It was “Ok” for the smooth talking black Jesus to bomb 7 Muslim nations, have a global assassination program and arm terrorists. But it is an uproar with pussy hats to have an immigration vetting process from unstable – save Iran, probably on the list to appease some establishment elements – countries.
Do not get me wrong, I am not in anyway condoning anything. I am in no way endorsing Trump. But I am calling a spade a spade. This has nothing to do with values, freedom or respect. This fiasco of immigration has everything to do with the globalist establishment using every card up its sleeve to continue the Military Industrial Complex and its aim of global domination by hook or crook. The Saker has given a good recap on the stakes here, the Deep State is out for blood and it is not backing down. The Attorney General has now come out and challenged the President as well. Edit: Has been fired already. The headlines go too fast these days.
Decades of tyranny was apparently “A-Ok Double Thumbs Up” by the liberal left, as long as it was sugar coated with the right politically corrected vocabulary. And now we are to fear someone who has never held public office, has not been knee deep in the blood of innocents like the entire establishment.
A friend told me of “historic” protests at airports and how he probably should have gone. I replied by saying that they were only “historic” in how they are working towards a colour revolution at home after countless ones abroad and that it is better for him to not get involved. “Colour Revolution? What do you mean?” was the response. A discussion ensued and I did what we all do time to time for the ones we hold dear; Give them an ultra condensed recap of geopolitics, Soros, Deep State and so forth. “You must be listening to Alex Jones and his conspiracies” came back the reply.
Another Muslim friend told me how he cannot trust a president beholden to Putin – the dictator- under threat of sex tapes being released. Yes, he believes that.
There is a chasm of knowledge omitted from the discourse that the vast majority of Americans are being actively engaged in. Without knowing how politics, manipulation, propaganda and Deep State works, they are hopelessly lost. They are ripe for the picking. This is a grass roots movement for them and they are all the more willing to cheer on the “revolution” from their smartphones.
Muslims are an easy recruiting ground for the liberal fake left, they have been traumatised for decades, have been the victims of US aggression, have faced back clashes in their own communities from right wing elements edged on by politicians and now finally they are being told that they are going to be singled out for more persecution. This time they have CNN, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and all the vampires in between giving them a platform. This is not coincidence, this is not by chance but instead by design. They will be used like cannon fodder and discarded once Black Jesus is restored to the throne or civil war ensues.
Imperialists are masters of creating ethical. moral juxtapositions that perplex, that rip apart emotional cords in the masses, drive them to hysteria and in the thick of it they take reins of their emotions and play them to their hearts content.
It is a sad sight to behold.
Can human intellect rise above the machinations of the 0.0001 % ?