No Good Men Among The Living-3

Author -Anand Gopal

In my last two blogs , we waded through the muddy terrains of Afghanistan with Author Anand Gopal trying to make sense of the two decades long war and finally an abrupt ,shocking anticlimax with American Troop withdrawl

Author invested four years of his life and lived in Afghanistan as local and interviewed thousands of Afghans .Hence the book is an authentic collection of first hand accounts of those people whose every day life became nightmare , as their destiny changed with change of power at the “Power Nodes “

After Taliban was decimated and Al -Qaeda flew out of Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002 ,Author often wondered in hindsight ,that may be that was the right time for Troop withdrawl for the USA but then again , Who should have been the power transferred to ?

“The Talibans “- who were Afghan centric and did not mind , minding their own business and had a strong hold in Southern Afghanistan but at an insurmountable cost of pushing the country to the back gear .

OR

The forward centric , prowestern ,representing a tiny slice of the population , totally dependant on foreign powers ,easy to topple governments

The ” MIDDLE MEN “, another wrought in the system ,who had amassed wealth and power at the USA’s expense , the only liason between the Afghan people and the USA also played a strategic role in catalyzing the war to go wrong .Anybody from any faction could be branded as Taliban or Terrorist by these middle men, even to settle their own personnel rivalry and that person could be targeted ,tortured ,imprisoned or sent to Guantanamo prison

In the process ,as early as 2005 ,people of the country were weary and hopeless and Taliban resurgency started .They regrouped themselves by tacit support of ISI , Pakistan and Al-Qaeda and by 2007 they had regained control of half of rural Pashtun territory and interestingly author found out that people lived in peace in those areas .Crime had vanished but islamic justices were met with no jobs or development .

Author reported that as a nation ,Afghanistan always had to piggy back on foreign powers for its development and which further divided the nation into an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle .

US’s intent was always well meaning and Afghanistan toking its baby steps towards development , women empowerment and hence Nation Building

BUT

Intelligence failure ,language barriers , rampant corruption , betrayals led the USA towards one misstep to another and some where lost the holding power of the Nation

Author revisited his protagonists in Afghanistan in 2010 and found out the “Ex- Taliban commander , had landed in Bagram prison ; The Pro Karzai commander was shot dead and Heela , the urban turned rural housewife ,became a senator

Author gave us an authentic account of the state of Afgahnistan and it felt after reading the book that not only the country but the US had also exhausted all its options and troop withdrawl was a foregone conclusion

In Today’s Afghanistan ,there is a humanitarian crisis going on and calls for help are intense and we only hope that we as “Humans Of The World “could figure out some solution and do not discard the Country as “Basket Case”

Wishing you all a very safe week ahead

Hoping to be with you all soon

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NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING -2

Author – Anand Gopal

In our last blog ,in the book review of “NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING” ,BY AUTHOR ANAND GOPAL , we talked about how interestingly ,Taliban, a group of fanatical students came together to bring law and order to the Afghan society and they were a success to a certain extent except for pushing the country back to medevial times

AL -QAEDA

As per protagonist , Mullah Cable ,the Taliban commander , a bad stroke of luck , brought the Arabs of Al-Qaeda to Afghanistan . They had a distinctly different culture , spoke a different language and their goals were entirely different .Al -Qaeda wanted to displace US supremacy but Talibans were Afghan centric .They wanted diplomatic recognition as long as they wer left to their own ways .But at the time of World Trade Center attack in 2001 ,unfortunately ,Al-Qaeda was operating from the soils of Afghanistan.

The U-TURN

After the October , 7 2001 American attack on Afghanistan ,author reported ,Talibans were decimated and Al-qaeda retreated unconditionally .Talibans even agreed to support the US backed Afghan government and Hamid Karzai.This REBRANDING , was nothing new in Afghan politics .This was survival .The losing party either fled ,retired or submitted to the victorious .

But for Americans ,this was all alien

Allegiance is supposed to be for life .Changing colors like a chameleon was unacceptable and the” Foe ” even if packaged differently ,continues to be an enemy

So America continued its war against it’s “Invisible Enemy” and they were never offered a seat on the table in any of the reconciliatory efforts in the initial years .

HAMID KARZAI

Why Hamid Karzai?Author pondered !

Karzai was no different than any other Afghan leader, who survived on foreign power .He was a former humanitarian worker ,Scion of an elite Kandhar Family and with Tribal elders and former antisoviet commanders formed SOUTHERN ALLIANCE with headquarters in a Pakistan CIty

But he was smart enough to be at the right time and at the right place and Americans’plans aligned with his .

Karzai hated Taliban and Americans wanted a man who was from Pashtun ,Background[Tribal background] to head the government .

The Ghost Enemy

At the end of 2001 and early 2002 ,Talibans were dismanteled and Al-Qaeda had fled to the safe Havens . So author wondered who were the Americans fighting the war against?

Entered the Middle men and the frst missteps were taken , when the war started going wrong These” Middle men “understood the meaning of “American power and Money ” and enemies were recreated .

Author named Sherzai as one of them ,who ran the intelligence network for the Americans and reaped enormous rewards .Villas ,Business empires and power in Southern Afghanisatn ,to name a few

Unless you were a part of these PRO MIDDLE MEN OR PRO KARZAI groups .you were targeted by e ither taken into custody ,tortured or sent to Guantanamo prison

No amount of assurances from the rest of Afghans ,who at different times of their lives had belonged to different groups ,either Mujahideens ,Talibans or regular Afghans could convince Americans that like Americans they wanted to build their nation and aimed for peace

So the war , took a new turn and it was called “Counter -terrorism” and the peace efforts were called “Nation building “ but all within the precints of these “Middle Men” and the Victors ,The Americans ,themselves became victims of Afghan Strongmen

We will take forward this review in the concluding blog .

Till then ,

Wishing you all a safe and a Happy New Year , 2022 , in advance

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Ten Lessons For a Post Pandemic World -2

Author – Fareed Zakaria

In my last blog , we did an overview of the five lessons for a post pandemic world .I am happy to be back again , on time , to continue our conversation about rest of the lessons

Lesson – 6

Aristotle was Right – We are social Animals

1. Pandemics can isolate us temporarily but cannot change our basic nature . as human beings ;Social seclusion is not human

2. As humans ,we have deep urge towards social interaction , participation and

collaboration

3 .Cities fulfill those needs in the best possible manner ;Real life interpersonnel relations are source of happiness and meaning

4. Cities play a major role in modelling human beings and hence its citizens

5. Cities and human interactions are here to stay .

6. To succeed in this world , we will have to manage diversity and gain strength from it .

LESSON – 7

Inequality will get worse

  1. Our World is economically efficient but every commodity and service is on sale
  2. The top 10% of America which owns 70%of total wealth of the country will get richer and the other America poorer
  3. Covid -19 has emphasized the divide even more
  4. In the most fundamental sense , we fail as human beings ,if we do not strive to uphold the basic needs and human dignity ,of the mankind as whole

Lesson -8

Globalization is not Dead

  1. Covid does not have the power to kill Globalization
  2. Many structural Forces are pushing globalization further and full scale reversal is not possible
  3. The world is interdependant and would not redo the economic , scientific and technical progress of the past

LESSON -9

World is Becoming Bipolar

  1. We have to accept that though United state continues to perform well on the most basic measure of Global power -” Economically” , but China has arrived
  2. China for all its repressive politics is still a part of Global order . very different from the Cold War Era – with Soviet Union playing a very dissimilar part
  3. China and United States is deeply intertwined economically as trade partners , with billions at stake on every day trade
  4. “The Soft power ” of United States has dimmed but every nation is sensible enough to not to go into a large scale conflict and ruin its economic prospects for the future

Lesson – 10

Sometimes the Greatest Realists are the Idealists

1. We should accept that our present world has multiple power centers and to prosper and sustain , we are interdependent .

2 . America’s significant contribution to international life – Forgive , rebuild and rehabilitate the vanquished . It can be a guiding light for the world

3. History has taught us time and again that give “Peace ” a chance first

4.Idealism underlying realism is simple -When nations cooperate ,people live a longer , richer and more secure life

We would conclude this conversation in our next post

I really enjoyed putting out these lessons in a very simple format for your easy read .hope you enjoyed it too .

Have a great weekend

Shruti Aggarwal

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Election season

Election season

election

India is currently witnessing another election season with its own distinct flavor .India would be going to polls for  State Legislative assembly seats in seven states in these coming months.The attraction of power and its accessory is so great that one gets to see all kind of gimmicks year after year .We see the predictable party hopping , incredulous coalitions ,false election promises etc ,etc. Politicians normally do not like to carry any ethical baggage so they keep themselves free from any contract of credibility with their electorate .Electorate is also well conditioned ,so the drill can be played year after year .

One of the recent books that I have read, is very relevant to the present scenario.Author Manju Kapur, in her latest release ” BROTHERS” takes us on a journey of a political novice from the hinterlands of a northern state of India , Rajasthan .He dreams of a future above and beyond that is destined for him .He defies the traditional laws of the land ,denies the relationships that binds him to his land and seeks opportunity in the adjacent city .As he makes the right moves and goes up in the ladder of success ,so does the feeling of entitlement in the younger brother .Unfortunately ,these expectations are not met with.

Her novel also depicted a very realistic treatment of the women from the pre independent era to the present times .The story  has a rural backdrop and over the time we see that as the milieu of the country changes so the female characters .Women become more emancipated and empowered.Men of the household who are used to complete subjugation from their women folk ,find it very difficult to deal with these new age women who are ready to shoulder responsibility as equal.

As evident in today’s world ,the novel gives us a picture of the inner mechanics of the political world.The devious route to the top is full of road bumps specially if its not your family business.Opportunism , cunning ,sycophancy ,deceit are some of the qualities that are needed to survive in these terrains .It is a very interesting read , as are her other novels.

There is no yard stick to assess these people who vie for the highest offices in the country .Their falsehood and lack of credibility is never detrimental .Each is busy blowing their own trumpet and berating the other .

Gone are the days when people sacrificed everything for their motherland .We live in the times when everything and everybody is sacrificed who prove to be an obstacle in the paths of our great leaders.