By Vince Dhimos
Thus the old radical school of the Enlightenment had not died out. It not only survived, it acquired more force than ever, despite the removal of the abuses that had prompted the movement in the first place. This was one of the many examples of movements that outlived their raison d’être but continued to exist on sheer inertia and stubbornness.
In 1917 and thereafter, the movement to establish a Soviet Union instead of a renewed and dynamic Russia was led by the Bolsheviks, who were imbued with the ideals of the more radical Enlightenment. As such, once in power, they immediately set about eliminating all older Russian ideas, and history came to see a variation on the theme of the French revolution. Most of these leaders secretly hated Russia, as described here, and wanted a modern European system to replace all old institutions and popular beliefs and behaviors. Thus, at variance with accepted anti-Russian propaganda, the Soviet Union was in no way a product of Russianness. In fact it was due to all things Russian being suppressed.
The Chinese under Mao took this radical Enlightenment idea still further and, again, while focusing on punishing transgressors rather than solving problems, it aimed to destroy the Chinese culture. The Cultural Revolution was in fact a movement to eliminate all of Chinese culture and thought, even smashing precious antiques, and extirpating the wisdom of ancient philosophers like Confucius from the Chinese psyche. As a result they lost a generation that could have been dedicated to education, science and research. Though imbued with Enlightenment ideals, Mao knew nothing about science, which is why his method of collecting metal for industry, by melting down pots and utensils, including antique ones, failed colossally. He discovered late what ancient Chinese metallurgists had always known, namely, that many different kinds of metals when melted together form a useless malleable or brittle material with virtually no strength. The result of his grand experiment wound up on the slag heap.
However, besides a lack of scientific knowledge, what the leaders were missing in their dealings with the people was the old Confucian ideal of harmony. The favorite tactic for keeping people in line was to stir up people with a hysteria against “capitalist running dogs” and former landlords or wealthy people. People were dehumanized, induced to manufacture all kinds of false charges and rat out their friends, neighbors and family members to deflect suspicions from themselves. It was a rein of terror akin to the black-white hysteria that sometimes causes American streets to boil. The accused were generally taken out with a sign around their neck indicating their supposed crime and then beaten by a disorderly crowed, even killed at times. (Further reading here on the Cultural Revolution). But after Mao’s death, the next generation of leaders realized that they had thrown out the baby with the bath and they dusted off the old banned books about Confucius, studying them diligently but without publicising this or admitting that the party policies had changed (they did not intend to sully Mao’s memory).
You may have read about Xi's response to Trump as they sat over cake at Mar-a-Lago and Trump informed Xi that he had just fired 59 Tomahawks at Khan Sheikhoun. Now Assad is a close ally of China, which has had ties to Syria for decades. In fact, China has plans to rebuild Syria (as shown in our translation of an unusually candid report here). Thus Trump’s obtuse words must have hurt Xi to the quick. But far from confrontational, Xi’s response to Trump was Confucian and harmonious.
According to Trump in a media interview. Xi said:
‘Anybody that uses gases’ —you could almost say or anything else — but ‘anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies, it’s okay.’ He was okay with it.”
I suspect even Confucius would have choked at this insincere response. (It reminded me of Will Smith as Hancock, who was advised by a psychologist to compliment his coworkers by saying “good work” after they carried out an assignment, and then proceeded to say this even when it was he who had done the job). Xi’s government later expressed bitter criticism of the Tomahawk attack in its state-owned media.
Both China and Russia seek harmonious relations even with the most difficult partners. This is the wave of the future and it is the result of the East learning from their earlier mistakes and the mistakes of the West, notably the total rejection of all past thought and behavior. China has turned back to Confucius and Russia has turned back to Christ. The result is the same.
Nietzsche, an old school radical philosopher who, while he criticized the Enlightenment, was focused on shocking people with an across the board rejection of the past, including past wisdom. He made no attempt to be conciliatory. As he wrote, he was a suffering soul confined to his bed, with advanced syphilis, which eventually killed him. Being hopelessly ideology bound, he had apparently rejected the notion that promiscuous sex can be harmful, thinking this taboo to be an outmoded Christian idea rather than the universal truth that it was. Despite years of agony that would have caused others to regret their dissipated past, he had learned nothing from his own mistakes, and many of his readers – worshippers really -- are attempting to duplicate his failed experiment.
The West today is imbued with that malignant spirit. Thus, we find swaths of American society, for example, where anyone advocating for traditional marriage can be ostracized or worse, verbally – or even physically -- assaulted, or even lose their job (as reported here); a person entering certain parts of their downtown can be beaten for belonging to the wrong race, as described here; and criminals or gang members of a certain national origin will never be arrested because they are assigned to a victim group. The old notion of law and order, decency and politeness has collapsed. The West is now closer to the ideals of perpetual revolution than even Mao’s China and unlike China, where the insanity finally ended with Mao’s death, there is no promise of a respite because the movement is led not by one person but by a faceless mob.
In stark contrast to the ideology-bound West, the East has moved beyond and is now easily winning the war of ideas by focusing on common sense and doing the will of the people. It turns out that the wisdom of the past is still as valid today as it was then. But these countries are also completely focused on science, as both Enlightenment schools were.
Ironically, the one world power that unabashedly lays claim to a Christian foundation for its public policies is, in terms of science, head and shoulders above the US, which abhors Christianity and still clings to the absurd notion that Christianity is incompatible with science. Emblematic of this situation is the fact that the radically secular US is obliged to purchase rocket engines from the openly Christian Russia.
Russia ushering in the Age of Grace
East and West: the twain shall meet
Making Saudi Arabia great again
In Russian, Their sons of bitches“: US and Britain arm 70 of the world’s dictators
By Vince Dhimos
There was, however, no liberty for the hapless subjects. They either obeyed their leaders or faced death. Nor was there equality for the masses, only for the top elite, who called themselves the Assemblée nationale législative and, without any consultation with the people, handed down their edicts to the masses. Under these circumstances there was no brotherhood ether, naturally. The gap between ruled and rulers was as wide and intractable as it had been under the nobles. And the beheadings had been much less frequent in the bad old days. Indeed, Robespierrre, the ring leader, was already a lawyer and hence a member of the old elite when he spearheaded the movement. Once installed he became a self-worshiping tyrant and often made public appearances dressed like a Roman emperor, until his unfortunate head also rolled from the guillotine.
Thousands upon thousands of people perceived as associated with the ancien régime were sent to the guillotine with little or no trial. Eventually, even many of those who showed less than the desirable degree of enthusiasm for the revolution and its leaders were beheaded, and the streets soon ran red with blood. In a caprice of history, “Enlightened One” (éclairé) became synonymous with “executioner.” Aimed at eliminating excesses such as the Inquisition, the Enlightenment became its own inquisition. As if this were not enough insanity, Napoleon Bonaparte became the carrier of the revolution and rampaged across Europe and Russia to spread this wonderful idea, destroying precious infrastructure, art treasures and architecture in his path until he was brought down by countries that were less than enthusiastic about the Englightenment.
One of the main problems with the movement was confusion. While some of les philosophes based their ideals on Cicero’s ideas of natural law, others did not, leading to the contradictory situation of some philosophers rejecting natural law while endorsing natural science. And then there was de Sade, who seemed to think that lawlessness was natural.
Famous quotations from the Marquis de Sade, once called the Prince of the Enlightenment, sheds light on the movement’s attitudes toward traditional morality. In this list, we find him, for example:
endorsing infanticide, atheism, and crime, justifying theft as a more fair distribution of wealth, cruelty as natural and as a “virtue and not a vice,” characterizing marriage as a “horror”, and condemning humaneness as “nothing but weakness born of fear and ignorance.”
While the “enlightened” French revolutionaries touted themselves as scientific and paid lip service to the scientific method, they showed little aptitude for wielding the method. Real scientists test their hypothesis on a small sampling of guinea pigs to see if it actually leads to the desired result. If they get the expected result, they then use a larger population and keep testing to make sure the solution is safe for large scale application. Instead of this, the entire French populace was subjected to a dangerous experiment without any pre-trials and the medicine killed the patients by the thousands.
Incredibly, Western leaders today continue to use this same failed method, assuming their proposed solutions will work and then when they fail, they pretend the test was a success. In fact, ever since 1789 the French have been celebrating this colossal failure every year on July 14.
So why all the fuss about a philosophical movement that hardly anyone cares or knows anything about?
Because the dichotomy between the radical Enlightenment and its more moderate school—the one that didn’t kill anyone -- is the hinge on which all the conflict between East and West turns.
The war between moderate and radical Enlightened Ones, ie, essentially East and West, is now as fierce as before, but with one major difference: we are now in a nuclear age making a peaceful resolution a matter of life and death for all of us.
Radical Enlightenment thought has led to the disaster that the West has become, with its impossible debt levels, its social unrest, its sharp divisions in a society teetering on the brink of civil war, and endless senseless foreign wars and regime change coups. Thus, among Western leadership, there is not a trace of reason to be found, nothing but edicts from on high. This tragedy is due in large part to the focus on punishing those who are perceived as the perpetrators of the serious issues of the past. In the early days of the Enlightenment, these perceived perpetrators included the leaders behind the excesses of the Church, such as the Inquisition, the sale of indulgences, the religious wars, etc. Since many of the leaders who caused these ills were clerics, the “Enlightened ones” decided with minimal deliberation that the bedrock of Christianity, ie, the belief in God, was the cause of all ills, and they set about to eliminate the clergy and all religious beliefs, replacing them with manmade slogans and rigid ideology-bound leaders.
It needs to be pointed out that the main issues of the past were in fact due to ignorant misguided people calling themselves Christians. That must be stated up front lest the reader think I am making this a defense of so-called Christianity, which today is applied to groups who, often without realizing it, reject the teachings of Christ and cling to legalistic Old Testament notions that are quite the opposite.
The abuses that led to the Enlightenment movement were indefensible. The Catholic Church was guilty of grave human rights abuses and had meddled unfairly in politics. I hasten to add that the beneficiaries of Lutheran’s reforms had learned nothing from their prior mistreatment at the hands of the Catholics either. Instead of taking a more benevolent view of dissidents, treating them with more understanding and kindness than they themselves had been shown by the Catholics, they soon applied the same abusive tactics against the Anabaptists. It was not until the banished Anabaptists reached the shores of the New World and settled there in a relatively peaceful environment that they, the victims of the persecution by the ex-victims of the Catholics, achieved a new level of understanding, at least in political life – namely, that all religious persecution, not just persecution of their one group, must be rejected universally. In accepting this proposition, the Anabaptists had become unwitting pioneers in the movement to keep church and state separate. This new idea removed one of the obstacles toward better understanding between traditional and revolutionary (enlightened so-called). It could have been the start of a generally benign policy toward traditionalism among the elites. But the elites were unmoved and remained hostile as before to Christianity, to the extent that today, for example, in the field of biology, any scientist who expresses even the slightest interest in the concept of Intelligent Design as a factor in the evolution of the species, is considered an outcast in the scientific community. The tacit implication is that a belief in a higher power precludes being considered a scientist. This situation is best described in the documentary titled Expelled (view full film here).
Russia ushering in the Age of Grace
East and West: the twain shall meet
Making Saudi Arabia great again
In Russian, Their sons of bitches“: US and Britain arm 70 of the world’s dictators
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East vs West: Who are the enlightened ones?
By Vince Dhimos
I will be like the most high. Isaiah 14:14
The core mission of New Silk Strategies is to explain the reasons for the Western world’s increasingly conspicuous social, economic, financial, military and foreign policy failures. We have already provided comprehensive reference material for understanding the petrodollar agreement with the Saudis (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) that all but guaranteed a steady series of wars unrelated to the protection of US interests; a comprehensive outline of the US’s designs on Middle Eastern oil along with Chinas’s plans to help Syria protect its own resources (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), and the contribution of Israel to the motivation for US-waged wars, including the irrational antagonism to Iran (here and here), and we have exposed (here) the almost unnoticed role of Christian Zionism in the unquestioned support of Israeli policies that help promote these wars (without most Christians knowing they are part of Zionism).
But we had not yet elaborated on the deeper lying cause, ie, the mentality that makes US and European policy makers and their popular supporters put aside all moral considerations that might give the war makers and their popular base pause. For example, why would most Western officials and the grass roots find it acceptable that Israel should occupy for years a large swath of Syrian territory, the Golen Heights, with no challenge from the US or European governments or the UN?
Why in heaven’s name did the US and Britain declare war on Afghanistan and then Iraq and destroy so much infrastructure in these countries, making a living hell for the lives of the inhabitants, when it was the Saudis and their GCC allies who had founded and sponsored Al-Qaeda, with the tacit support of the US, and the invaded countries had virtually nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks?
Why do the US and Europe still send vast arms shipments to Saudi Arabia? Why does Freedom House, a wholly owned subsidiary of the US government posing as a NGO, list the democratically administered Syria as the worst offender against freedom when the Syrian people are the victims of ISIS, Al-Qaeda rebrandings and other US-supported terrorists in Syria, and not the Syrian government?
And how is it that Iran, a country that contributes mightily to defeating ISIS in Syria, is called the “biggest state sponsor of terror” in the world?
And on the domestic front, how can a Christian country deny life-saving medical insurance to people with pre-conditions, simply allowing them to die under color of protecting the free market?
Why does the US government, whose “enemies” are almost all the product of US provocation (even North Korea, as Andre Vltchek has shown here) or fabricated in the fantasies of government officials and msm, spend on “defense” enough money to solve most of the social, public health and crime problems of the country and invest in projects that create high-paying jobs (projects analogous to the Chinese bank ACIIB and infrastructure project BRI)?
Why have the central bankers and government allowed disastrous financial bubbles and ponderous debt to threaten their own people and the financial stability of the globe?
And why is Africa becoming poorer and poorer even as the IMF lends increasing amounts to that continent (we hope to explore this in further detail later on)?
Finally, why is the West focused on aiding refugees but not on rebuilding the infrastructures of countries, such as Syria, that have been destroyed by terrorism, so that the refugees can go home?
In other words, what is the origin of the underlying lack of all morality, natural law and common sense in Western public life? Is there an ideological bedrock on which all the inequality, injustice, impoverishment and cruelty against people foreign and domestic rest?
Conversely, why is it that Russia and China are not contributing to these problems?
For example, why is Russia’s debt such a tiny percentage of its GDP?
And why does Russia not invade countries, merely going to the aid of countries or regions that have been invaded or assaulted through regime change?
Why is Chinese aid aimed at raising Africa out of poverty instead of exploiting it?
And why are Russia and China focused on rebuilding Syria even as the West continues to impose grossly unfair and impoverishing sanctions on that war torn country?
In summary, why do Russia and China appear to be the humanitarians while the Exceptional Country once describing itself as Christian, along with its allies in Europe, now appear to be the oppressors?
Yes, there is an ideological bedrock underlying all of this that enables us to answer all of these questoins, and we now come to this most thorny and complex issue, namely, Enlightenment thought, originating in the 17th and 18th Centuries, and its extension into the 21st Century. But as we shall see, in its radical form, the word Enlightenment is a cynical misnomer. Yet in its moderate form, it is true to its name. The moderate school, which is a non-ideological problem-solving approach, has been all but eliminated in the West but thrives in the East.
The Enlightenment is generally defined by historians as a movement of the 17th and 18th centuries that sought to apply reason to solve problems facing mankind. It was supposed to be a humanitarian movement and was supposed to replace religious dogma with rationality and enable the common man to overcome the overbearing influence of the rich and powerful, making everyone equal in an enlightened world.
Typically mentioned by historians as the leaders of this Enlightenment are a number of leading philosophers, such as Rousseau and, most famously, Voltaire, whose more radical school of thought generally taught that there could be no compromise with traditionalists or with the ancient wisdom and common sense that were part of the popular European psyche up until them. We could describe this movement and its extension to the modern age as “perpetual revolution.” The radical Enlightenment in its real world embodiment was marked by a zeal not so much to solve problems but to eradicate old ideas and behaviors and to punish those who clung to them. Their targets were common sense and traditional wisdom, particularly of the kind associated with Christianity. The embodiment of this radical school is best illustrated by the French Revolution, the proving ground for the ideology. Unfortunately, the guinea pigs for this trial were the whole of the French people. Such a test of a matter that would necessarily affect the very core of civilization could be compared to a chef elaborating a new recipe on paper and, without first tasting the product, preparing it and serving it to hundreds of select guests in the finest restaurant in Paris. A risk to say the least.
Ultimately, this revolution led to a blood bath, preceded with much fanfare and propaganda consisting essentially of the words “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” ie, freedom, equality, brotherhood. It failed tragically.
Russia ushering in the Age of Grace
East and West: the twain shall meet
Making Saudi Arabia great again
In Russian, Their sons of bitches“: US and Britain arm 70 of the world’s dictators
To be continued
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One thing today’s conservatives need to understand, no matter how they feel about Russia, is that the Russian government is run on sound fiscal conservative principles, which is why they have almost no debt vs our $20 trillion. Ironically, while conservatives all adhere, on some level of their consciousness, to the notion of not spending more than you bring in, many remain convinced that a war president must be supported wholeheartedly no matter how absurd his pretext for war, and no matter how much money he demands for “defense” (meaning “offense” in today’s Washington), you must support this spending in the interest of “public security” for reasons that, strangely, are never articulated. Thus this latter pillar of conservatism – unquestioned support of a war president, especially a Republican one -- always takes precedence over fiscal conservatism, enabling presidents to continue ad infinitum their policy of squandering the little guy’s last penny on unjustified and ruinous wars.
In fact, though conservatives would never admit it, many put “patriotism” a few steps ahead of godliness as well when push comes to shove. Their unquestioned support for Israel is one example of this. Their reasoning is based on the dry bones prophecy in Ezekiel 37. And yet, this prophecy says the resurrected Israel will be led by King David, which these same Christians interpret to mean that the prophetic Israel will bow to King Jesus. They ignore the fact that the average Israeli today is either atheistic or irreligious and the Orthodox, whose beliefs are much more in line with those of Christians, generally oppose the statehood of Israel because it replaces Judaic religion with secular statehood. Conservatives just cling to the notion that no matter how warlike the modern Israel is, their wars are part and parcel of God’s plan for Israel. (If you are unaware of the USS Liberty story, please read it here at the Chicago Tribune site).
Yet Revelations speaks of false Jews, who would seem to meet the description of most modern Israelis.
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9
The term “false Jews” here is generally interpreted to mean Jews who reject God.
The Hilonim constitute the biggest social group in Israel. According to a Pew poll:
“Among Hilonim, … only 4% see being Jewish as primarily a matter of religion.”
“…just 1% of Hilonim say they pray daily, and 79% never pray” Not only do few Hilonim say they attend synagogue on a weekly basis or pray with regularity, but many (40%) also say they do not believe in God.
And Christian Zionists, best represented by former presidential candidate Ted Cruz, want us to believe that these Israelis, best represented by the irreligious Hilonim, are the ones who accept Christ as their king as prophesied in Ezekiel?
Christian Zionists further reason that they must help God usher in the Millennium in the final days by facilitating the fulfilment of prophecies. They ignore the fact that the Old Testament God dispersed the Jews as punishment for their failure to obey Him. In view of the above, when have today’s Jews started obeying God again?
This Christian Zionist narrative relieves Christian conservatives of the obligation to take geopolitical and military factors into account when weighing US policies vis-à-vis Israel. But since in the real world, foreign policy making is an intricate task requiring skill, training and knowledge of international law, different cultures and the history of peoples, this belief is tantamount to hiring clergy instead of certified engineers to build a bridge. Do they really think unskilled amateurs can do a satisfactory job in keeping the peace?
This replacement of intellect with pseudo-religious hocus-pocus puts a large percentage of the US public fully in line with the Chiliastic Christians of past centuries who laid waste to swaths of Europe, burning churches and looting monasteries, until they were finally stopped by the secular powers. These Chiliastics were driven by the notion that they were helping God usher in the Millennium spoken of in Revelation. Just as today’s “conservatives” are oblivious to the specter of nuclear war because they were convinced that God was protecting them, many modern “conservative Christians” believe that they have a mandate to help God fulfill the prophesies concerning Israel. They too have a sense of their own invulnerability in the face of the wars they condone – which risk becoming nuclear -- in favor of Israel. The seemingly courageous medieval “Christian” militants who tore up Europe typically showed no fear until they faced imminent death at the gallows or the stake when they generally melted into a quivering mass of flesh. A complete history of the Chiliastic Christians and their wars is found in the book “The Socialist Phenomenon” by Igor Shafarevich, available in PDF format here. If you read the description of the “socialists of the heresies” starting on page 18, you won’t be able to avoid the startling analogy with modern Christian Zionists who are eager to plunge us into war believing that they are helping God fulfil his prophecies and hence are invulnerable. History has taught us better but we don’t know it.
Yet it is not so much the damage that they do with this cultism but rather their persuasion of their non-religious countrymen to accept their blind support for Israel-led wars that raises concerns. They use the carrot of social acceptance and the stick of possible rejection, suggesting that by supporting Israel, the non-religious can be saved from eternal damnation while if they refuse, they will be condemned for eternity. After all, in Genesis, God said to Israel: I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you. He was referring to a people who initially obeyed God.
Ultimately, then, based on this unspoken religious principle, it is just not patriotic to save the American economy when there is an imaginary enemy of God (the Muslim group du jour, eg, the Palestinians or Iranians) lurking out there. And the absurdity of the narrative on which the war is based, just doesn’t matter because there are considerations of a heavenly order that cannot be questioned without blaspheming and dooming one’s soul. But this kind of thinkingi s legalism, and Christ taught against it, showing in parables that the legalists are the ones doomed to hell.
Obviously, neither the economy nor the national soul will ever be saved as long as this principle prevails. As long as no change in our national psyche is on the horizon, there is, logically, only one possible ending to this tale, and that is total collapse or perhaps another world war, most likely a nuclear one in which, according to Revelation, no flesh will be saved.
When I mention an economic collapse, people will certainly think I am talking about a doomsday scenario. But they forget that, when client countries like the US get in trouble, supplier countries like China necessarily come to their aid. After all, suppliers need solvent customers.
So here goes another “unpatriotic” statement: Assuming the US public is incapable of making a substantive change in their political views, a collapse would be the best possible scenario. We would then be like a bankrupt commercial company in receivership, where a solvent entity such as a government controls the administration of the company in such a way as to avoid any of the administrative errors that caused the bankruptcy in the first place. At that point, the company in bankruptcy is safer than it had ever been in the past and can finally get back on the path to recovery. The receiver entity will not allow the company to make reckless decisions. The bankrupt company is obliged to accept these terms when it accepts the assistance. You can’t have it both ways.
Thus, sad to say, if the US crashes and burns because it cannot manage its own affairs, then someone must manage it until such time as it gets back on a sound footing, reverting to pragmatism instead of ruinous ideology.
The thought of such a scenario is so repugnant to many conservatives (and also to run-of-the-mill Democrats) that they are literally incapable of conceiving of it and will declare you a traitor if you dare to speak of it, even when it is clearly inevitable. They still cling to the idea that America is God’s country. But like the ancient Jews, we have disobeyed.
Indeed if we look back a half-century we will recall that Americans could never conceive in the 60s of China ever outpacing the US economy. Unthinkable. If you had suggested that our reckless gambit of turning over our manufacturing to China would enable that country eventually to match or surpass us, less than half a percent of Americans could have countenanced such a possibility. Yet after 50 years of one failed military adventure and one foolish central-bank policy after the other, that is exactly what has happened. We are like a luckless gambler who has been receiving credit from the gambling house every time he loses and suddenly, after years of lenience, the owner calls in the debt. The reckless gambler can cry all he wants but it was he who made his bed.
Is it China’s fault that it took advantage of a reckless gambler?
And is it the fault of a person with vision that he dares to warn his countrymen of what is about to happen?
In the shifting sands of American thought, I may have lost my status of “conservative” among foolish men who see nothing. But my goal is not to please men. I only want to keep my status as an humble servant before a God who sees all.
I have decided to post this because, despite the hard knocks I have had in my encounters with them, I know that deep down, conservatives are common sense people who will eventually listen to reason. So what is the solution, folks?
Love. Not trust, but love. We need to forgive all the harm that has been done to us by men who have dragged us into war after war but never again trust in men, not even politicians who say all the things we want to hear, or accept their skewed interpretations of the Bible.
As Jesus hung in agony from the cross, he said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” His was not weakness, quite the opposite. It was the way of the future for both Jew and Gentile alike. Our troubles are not due to religion. They are due to our putting country first and God second.
Making Saudi Arabia great again:
Especially relevant to Part 2:
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The Russia-Syria-Iran alliance has all but defeated ISIS and some other minor annoyances like Al-Nusra and other US-allied terror groups, and people everywhere are now eyeing the US presence in Syria as a weary host views uninvited hangers-on at a party that should have been over a while ago.
For those Trump fans who were delighted at the rumor of a possible $400 billion contract for shipment of US arms to Saudi Arabia (which is not a done deal), it must have been disconcerting to learn that on Thursday, King Salman made the first ever official visit of a Saudi king to Moscow and asked to purchase some shiny new S-400s to safeguard its air space. As of now, this is a done deal, according to Business Insider. And this after Moscow had already made an unprecedented volume of arms deals all around the world, including major ones in the king’s back yard: 300 Terminator tank support vehicles – a Russian weapon system like no other in the world – to Algeria, a longstanding partner of Russia’s; a done deal for $2 billion in arms to Egypt; a perspective $2 billion deal with Egypt’s ally Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, also a Russian ally of long standing; a Russian pledge to provide helicopters, night-vision goggles and bullet-proof vests to Tunisian security forces to fight terror; and, to the horror of Washington, Russia is now expected to ink a deal with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a squadron (over a dozen) Su-35 stealth fighter jets. Why would this Arab ally of Washington turn up its nose at the US-made F-35, the nearest analog of the Su-35? Easy. The Su-35 (Russian language site) outmaneuvers the F-35 and sells for around $35 million apiece vs the roughly $120 million price tag of the F-35. The problem is, the US is permanently locked into a system wherein defense contractors donate to (read bribe) political candidates who later decide who gets the defense contracts. This legal graft makes arms prices too high to compete and the rest of the world is therefore drifting toward Russia – where bribery is illegal – for its arms supplies. Russia’s fabulous success in Syria gives it an unbeatable edge in the global arms market.
British Middle East expert John Bradley, writing for The Spectator, reminds us that just 2 short years ago, US defense secretary Ash Carter had predicted a catastrophe for Russia when it entered the war on Bashar al-Assad’s side to fight ISIS and assorted US-trained and armed jihadi groups in Syria. Such deceitful minimization of Russian power has been ongoing since then but the Saudi royals’ visit to Moscow on Thursday was the last straw. The curtain’s been drawn on the Washington wizard, for whom there is now no place to hide.
Bradley also reminds us, with unusual candor for a Western journalist, of all the chicanery, lies, deceit, backstabbing, genocidal acts and other untoward behavior of Western officialdom in all the wars and warmongering of the past half century that has gone into transforming America and allies – seen since WW II as paladins fearlessly rushing to the aid of the oppressed – into a bunch of feared and loathed pariahs. He has nonetheless retained the usual de rigueur references to Putin as “autocratic,” despite the fact that he is one of the most popular elected leaders in the world, in a bid to protect Bradley’s reputation among his peers, although such minor slurs are rare in this piece and are obviously just there to protect his paycheck. We forgive him.
Bradley reminds us of how Putin managed to win over Erdogan even after Turkey shot down a Russian jet over the Turkish-Syrian border and declares:
“It is testament to Putin’s extraordinary diplomatic skills that Russia and Turkey are these days singing each other’s praises as never before.”
No, Putin’s diplomatic feat is so much more than that, Mr. Bradley. In truth, it is a testament to Putin’s being Russian and not Western. That’s exactly the source of his success. But what does it mean to be Russian as opposed to Western?
Although the West has a thin pseudo-Christian veneer over it, the notions of turning the other cheek and leaving vengeance up to the Lord are virtually absent in the Atlanticist empire, particularly in discussions of how to treat an enemy. Even in the reader forums of the pro-Russian site Russia Today (my favorite news site, BTW), we find a lot of criticism of Putin for treating the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia as partners rather than exacting revenge on them for their support for terrorists or for Israel’s attacks on Syria allies fighting ISIS. We also find at this site commentaries by Paul Craig Roberts criticizing Putin for treating the US as a partner and not as an enemy. PCR seems to think Putin is soft-headed and not in fact the highly skilled diplomat that he is. Anyone who has witnessed Putin’s skill in dealing with Erdogan and the dazzling success he has achieved so far with the Turk stream pipeline, the S-400 sale to the Turks, and generally empowering Turkey to defy Germany and the US to protect its own sovereignty ought to admit that Putin knows exactly what he is doing all the time. The fatal flaw in our character, however, is the mental disease of Westernness.
The truth is, the West has never truly received Christ’s message. It is behaving instead in accordance with Old Testament law, as if Christ had never ushered in an age of grace. In testimony to their Old Testament allegiance, Christians are proud to proclaim publicly “I stand with Israel” but we never hear them publicly stating “I stand with Jesus.” Because they actually don’t. The entire Western elitosphere promotes and even enforces a brutal predatory capitalism that hurts their own countrymen, leaving the sick to die of diseases for which they cannot afford health insurance. Their justification? That’s just the way it is in our sacred capitalist system. If we provide free health care to save lives, we would be opening the door to communism and that in turn would usher in Stalin-like purges, jackboots, midnight visits by the KGB, etc. Just look at Cuba, they say. The Cubans are grindingly poor. Yet no prominent Westerner dares to point out that if the Cubans are poor, it is because the US has held them in a stranglehold for years with its blockades and sanctions, and its refusal to trade with them, for the crime of rejecting the American way of life that has now culminated in a crushing debt that will never be paid down or off. In fact the fall of the Soviet Union was as much due to US intervention and subterfuge as is was to internal failures.
Worse, the US hypocritically trades freely with an openly communist China while pretending that the democratically administered Russia is somehow our biggest enemy – not the criminals on Wall Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and in Congress. But the real crying shame of it all is that the US and European populace allows itself to be led by these heartless monsters in Washington, Paris, Berlin and Brussels who have not only impoverished their own countries but have murdered millions abroad over the last half-century, mostly civilians in countries that have not threatened our peoples. It was murder under color of law decreed by the Exceptional Nation.
Western clergy pay lip service to the revolutionary concept of grace as opposed to Old Testament law. But this teaching is for the most part carefully kept separate from real life. Jesus demonstrated in real life and in parables how this new concept is supposed to work. One of the most poignant examples is the story of how He and the disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath and were seen by the Pharisees to pluck and eat the grain. For this innocuous act they were accused of profaning the Sabbath, which according to the 10 Commandments, was to be “kept holy.” While the scriptures did not detail what keeping it holy meant, it was generally believed that people were not to work on that day. Yet the notion of “work” was subject to interpretation. The Pharisees used this vaguely written law to trip people up and in this way gain power over them. When they used this legalistic line of argumentation to trip up Jesus, he said: how many of you if your ox fell into a well on the Sabbath would not rescue it? None could say that they would leave the animal to die. He had made his point and had given mankind a glimpse of salvation through grace and not law.
Likewise, we recall how he intervened when an adulteress was about to be stoned, saying to the angry mob: let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Thus, in these instances and elsewhere, Christ emphasized not the letter of the law but rather the fact that we are all human and prone to sin, despite our best intentions. This hard and fast fact of human nature demands a solution and that solution is forgiveness through grace. No other religion has this concept. And before Putin, no world leader had ever had the audacity to try applying the concept of grace to geopolitics.
Thus whether or not Putin is consciously acting out Christianity (something he has never claimed to be doing because he knows that to articulate his motives would be to profane the Source of them), he is in fact undeniably behaving like Christ. The radical act of forgiveness toward Erdogan, who had clearly behaved like an enemy, was a clear cut case of practical Christianity. Americans finding themselves in a similar situation would call for war against Turkey. Russians, by contrast, know what war is like on their own soil and, more importantly, they are not motivated by the machismo modeled by, say, Clint Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone. They are increasingly discovering the teachings of Jesus and the value of their application to their lives.
By contrast, most Americans immediately call for revenge against any national leader threatening the US, using such threats as a pretext for war, even though they must know on some level of their consciousness that these threats are empty. Politicians know that the average American wants a tough, machista response and reveres presidents who stand up to a perceived bully, even if this means a war that will drive another nail in the economic coffin and destroy the innocent people of the assaulted country. The fact is, the US itself has become a surly bully much more powerful than the nations who challenge it and does not pick on anyone its own size.
Now we face a threat from a president who says he will respond to a North Korean threat with “fire and fury” and will destroy the entire country. He probably does not realize that air force general Curtis LeMay, who had led the Korean air war, once said that the US had killed, with aerial bombings, an estimated 20% of the North Korean population (this was later disputed but the figure was nonetheless placed at 13.5%, which still easily qualifies as genocide ). The war department knew that the US could not win that war and yet they chose to bomb before pulling out, dropping on North Korea more ordinance than they had throughout WW II. The only possible conclusion as to their motive is revenge. You kill innocent men, women and children in revenge for the sins of their leaders. It’s the American way: Biblical if your basis is the Old Testament and if Jesus is not your King. And this kind of vengefulness is not confined to America because the English also exacted such brutal revenge on the civilian population of Dresden, most of whom were roasted alive by their bombing raid even though it was clear by then that the allies would win the war.
Do you see the diametrically opposite poles here? Russian leadership has had ample opportunity and fire power to avenge itself, for example, of the US and Israeli air forces for their ruthless attacks on Syrian troops even as the latter were fighting ISIS. No one could have blamed the Russians if they had shot down the attacking planes.
Yet they knew that to counterattack would only have weakened their position in the eyes of the world and would have irretrievably destroyed their relations with the offending nations. And now at last, Russia has been vindicated – by an overwhelming defeat of ISIS virtually everywhere in Syria; by the attendant arms sales to countries that could not fail to note the Kalibr missiles leaping out of the Caspian Sea and pinpointing targets hundreds of miles away, by the deployment of the formidable S-400s all over Syria and the unmistakable significance of these facts in terms of Russian arms superiority. And by the visit of a cowed Saudi king to Moscow begging for concessions in terms of reining in Iran, not out of hatred but out of fear for his very life. In other words, a king who once controlled the Middle East begging for mercy before a president who had seized that control from him by doing what was right and doing it so superbly.
After over a half-century – almost as long as the Soviet Union had lasted – the global Western lawlessness cynically called Exceptionalism, had finally given way to the simple saving concept of love.
Written on October 7, 2017, the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Ever since I knew anything, I always thought of myself as a conservative. Back when GW Bush was running for president, I made sure all my friends understood why we needed him to lead us. I had heard him say in his campaign that he was for small government, and also that he did not want to engage in nation building. He also hated abortion and was for gun rights. And he was a born again Christian. I figured he was the change we needed.
I also figured his level headed kind of a guy would never get us embroiled in the affairs of other nations that didn’t concern us. But then after the election, and after the terrorist attack on our country in 2001, the US was bombarded with all this information about how Afghanistan was harboring the arch terrorist Osama bin Laden. So Bush told us that if we didn’t defeat the terrorists on their own turf, we’d have to fight them over here. Bush “protected” us by fighting the Taliban. Not long after we embarked on that sacred mission, we learned that Saddam Hussein was also supporting terror and probably was responsible for the 9-11 attacks.
But shortly after the US “won” the war in Iraq, reports filtered out that the Assyrian Christians, who had lived in relative peace in Mesopotamia for over a millennium, were leaving Iraq in droves. And that the country was in chaos. A famous Iraqi museum with priceless artifacts was looted and many treasures were lost forever. The US never even made a statement about this. Could it be that our leaders had such little regard for the world’s heritage of historical art and archeology?
We also learned that most of the 9-11 attackers were Saudis and that the main funding source of Al-Qaeda, the terror group that had just killed 3000 of us, was Saudi Arabia. I wondered in the secret recesses of my mind why we had not declared war on Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan and Iraq. But no one, neither on the right nor on the left, ever mentioned this. I was afraid to utter my secret thoughts at first and waited for someone braver than myself to speak up. But no one did.
I kept thinking long and hard about these things but when I mentioned any of this to my conservative friends, most would give me a blank stare. Some even told me I was no longer a good conservative. I had violated a rule of conservatism: never question the judgment of a conservative leader in time of war. But yet, I wondered: if the American people had been given the opportunity to respond to the 9-11 terror, would it every have occurred to them to invade Afghanistan and Iraq? Wasn’t this really someone else’s war? Why not fight the terror sponsors? It seemed like it was bad manners to criticize the Saudis. People understood that Bush Jr. was a good friend of the Saudi royal family. But should we not work out our own conclusions? Did conservatives really need a leader to tell us what, not how, to think? Wasn’t that kind of group think the hallmark of liberals?
I began to suspect that conservatism was a shape shifter.
I mean there was a check list of items of our faith. To be a good conservative you had to defend gun rights. I checked out on that one. You had to love the Constitution. I got good marks on that. I had even taken a course in the Constitution. You had to believe in God. Check. I was the leader of a neighborhood Bible study. You had to hate abortion. Check. You had to be for secure borders. Check. You had to support your country in time of war. Well, I supported my military. But why were they put in harm’s way? Was it patriotic to send men to fight for something no one understood? Must I also defend the decision makers, who were unable to articulate their motives and goals? And again, the nagging question: what about the Saudis?
I felt guilty that I could no longer support my president as wholeheartedly as before.
I pondered these issues for a long time and finally came to the conclusion that conservatism in America has become an ideology. I had always thought it was just a template, a common sense way of thinking free of ideological baggage.
Now earlier, some astute observer had noted that liberalism was a mental disease. I agreed wholeheartedly.
But now that the age of Trump is upon us, I realize that conservatives are no more exempt from the symptoms of group think than the liberals.
When I remind my conservative friends that America is suffering a relapse of the “Dubbya syndrome,” many of them bristle.
It’s lonely, but should I pretend not to notice things to appease my friends?
Trump promised us to steer clear of interfering in other nations’ business. Just as Bush had promised us never to engage in nation building.
And just as Bush had once famously said he had looked into Putin’s eyes and saw he was a good man, Trump said on the campaign trail that he was sure he could “get along with Putin.”
But after he entered office, Trump turned around and said he was pretty sure the Russians had hacked Hillary’s emails. Yet most Republicans believe Julian Assange’s assertion that no state entity was involved in passing on the emails. So why did Trump suddenly turn around and blame the Russians? Didn’t he know that logic was on the side of the doubters? Yet here he was suggesting that his own path to the White House may have been due to interference from a country that really had no motive to interfere – after all, Putin had said during the campaign that it didn’t matter who was elected because the Washington bureaucracy made all the important foreign policy decisions anyway, regardless of who was president. And now Trump was confirming this keen observation.
Insidiously, many conservatives, including Trump, are now siding with the Hillary camp in its absurd fear and suspicion of Russia. When I pass on information from RT or Russia Insider that rebuts the standard shared warmongering narrative of both Neocons and Neoliberals alike, some of these “conservatives” tell me I am a Kremlin stooge. They refuse to believe that Russia is no longer a communist dictatorship. Many of the readers in the forums at the pro-Trump “conservative” Breitbart site share this absurd thinking. Don’t they realize they are thereby supporting a narrative designed to support Hillary?
I have come to see that the definition of conservatism has changed in America, perhaps permanently. Common sense is out the window and the American Dark Age is upon us.
To be continued
Making Saudi Arabia great again:
Especially relevant to Part 2:
Anton Orlovsky in his op-ed below provides details showing that, in his opinion, the US has lost control over the Far East. And this comes in the wake of the US colossal failure in the Middle East, where US coalition members, notably the Kurdish SDF, have recently tried a ploy to keep Syrian troops out of certain parts of their own country, in the vicinity of the hotly contested Deir Ezzor governate, home to the richest energy deposits in the country which the US covets.
Just this week, Syrian ambassador to the UN Walid al-Muallem told the UN: "Syria reserves the right to respond to any violation by the other party.”
This is a clear warning to the US and its proxies to keep clear of Syrian-Russian operations in Deir Ezzor, where Kurdish US proxies have recently attacked their troops fighting terrorists.
In all the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has never been such a frank warning from a Russian ally to the US military to stand clear. BTW, it was really difficult to find any report of this speech online. The West has all but censored this news – understandably because, as Orlovsky states below, the US is fast losing ground everywhere and is desperate to keep this news under wraps. (I finally found it at a web site in Lebanon, where it is still ok to talk about these things).
But the Neocons are nonetheless busy keeping all news less than complimentary to the US Establishment away from the plebes. For instance, the usual anti-Russian subjects senators McCain and Graham, along with another Neocon senator, have managed to ram through a piggy-back provision in a defense bill that will prohibit obliging cable TV companies to carry programming from the Russian Federation. This is a cagey form of soft censorship aimed at further hermetically sealing off their fiefdom, the US territory, from news embarrassing to the US elites – and that would be almost everything of importance that is happening outside US borders. It is amazing what you can’t find these days.
The US is like a landed white shark. It is not going anywhere and is flopping about helplessly at the bottom of the boat, but it still has its teeth.
Orlovsky’s last sentence at the end of the op-ed about the possibility of Europe changing preferences is not just idle talk. The EU has long been playing ball with China and Russia. Years ago it established yuan clearing centers at key European capitals with a view to accumulating the Chinese currency for settlements of debts – a practice that can only weaken the dollar. Europe also invested heavily in the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and, unlike the US Establishment, which has its head in the sand, is interested in investing in the Belt and Road Initiative Belt and Road Initiative aimed at connecting Asia to Europe and Africa.
NSS translation from the Russian of an op-ed in rusvesna.su.
Hegemon crushed: Russia and China "drop the hammer" at the UN
09-17-2017 - 5:30
When Donald Trump entered office, he promised a whole lot. The American argued that the US is an international superpower whose decisions are unshakable. But, as time has shown, this omnipotence is actually gone.
One of Tramp's bold and boisterous statements was the assertion that Pyongyang would not acquire intercontinental missiles that could threaten the United States in the future. But in the issue of North Korea, the Americans had to make concessions to Beijing and Moscow, because there was a high probability that China or Russia would impose a veto on the US resolution and would not allow the document to go forward.
Moscow and Beijing managed to remove from the document the provocative details of the resolution, which could only provoke Pyongyang, and not force it to start thinking about it. So, Russia and China did not allow the Americans to introduce any oil embargoes, stop ships on the high seas, or deport labor migrants.
This is despite the fact that Russian and Chinese missions to the UN supported sanctions against the DPRK. To a lesser extent, they pressed on the DPRK, so as not to cross the "red line", possibly provoking Kim Jong-un.
And this date - September 11, can be safely entered into the annals of history as a day when the US finally lost influence in the Far East.
It is noteworthy that the inability of the United States to contain the "North Korean regime" and force it to abandon the development of nuclear weapons is not the only time in recent years that the US has failed to assert its own position.
The North Korean failure was preceded by three other setbacks: at the Russian borders, where the US supported the color revolutions (Georgia, Ukraine), the Americans failed to foresee Russia’s reaction, thus preventing them from achieving their goals; in Syria, where Washington intended to curtail the "Assad regime", but achieved nothing; in Central Asia, where gross mistakes by the United States and indulgence towards Pakistan led to the strengthening of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In the big geopolitical game, Washington is giving up its positions, and the firmness, determination and steadfastness they once had are moving to the second and third rung. And Russia and China are already applying for the position of world leaders. And not as international hegemons, but as states offering to work on mutually beneficial terms. Together, and not dictated, as the US has always demanded.
Further it is obvious that in this scenario, it is on Donald Trump’s watch that Washington will finally lose the political gravitas that it once had. It is possible that even Europe will change its preferences after a while.
If you wish to comment, just go to the top and click on "comments."
Will Spain shell Barcelona?
Catalonia’s push to leave Spain is interesting because if they get their way, the outcome will challenge the West’s unanimous accusation that Russia “illegally” annexed Crimea in 2014.
If the Catalonians succeed in seceding over Madrid's protests, then that raises the question: How can the Crimean secession from Ukraine be such a bitterly contended issue and how can the West impose sanctions on the country to which they acceded if other regions are allowed to secede with relative impunity and accede to a third country?
But, you say, the situation in Catalonia is not entirely analogous to the situation in Crimea. However, the analogies are rather surprising if you think about it. As in Crimea, a referendum is to be held in Barcelona to see if the Catalonians really want to secede (after a million-strong march in favor of the referendum, it seems likely that they do). As in Crimea, the nation to which Catalonian had belonged – Spain – vehemently denied the legitimacy of the campaign to impending referendum, just as Ukraine had challenged the legitimacy of the Crimean referendum.
So far the analogy is perfect. But, you say, while Crimea acceded to Russia, Catalonia is not acceding to another country. But wait, it will predictably want to accede to the EU, an organization with all the earmarks of a sovereign country, which refrains from calling itself a country because it wants the member states to think they are sovereign. Of course, they are not. Not when Brussels is demanding that the “sovereign” Hungary and other Visegrad nations accept “their share” of the EU’s immigrants, which were invited by the EU’s de facto boss Angela Merkel and not by the Hungarian government. It was in fact this kind of encroachment on sovereignty that prompted the Brexiteers to leave the EU. It was their strongest argument and their citizens agreed. Obviously, the UK citizens agreed that they were not sovereign and were in fact ruled by an empire – that is, an organization that has arrogated to itself all the earmarks of a sovereign state. So assuming the Catalonians win the referendum and then apply for membership in the EU as expected, the analogy with the Crimean secession and subsequent accession (not annexation as it is wrongly called in the West) to Russia is complete.
So assuming the Catalonians do hold their referendum and then apply as a sovereign entity for membership in the EU, they will have done all the things in Europe that the Crimeans did in their region.
Now the response was a furor throughout the Western sphere of influence, resulting in sanctions against Russia for allowing Crimea to accede to it. All Western media and pols who want to stay in office are calling this an illegal annexation.
Further, in another situation largely analogous to the Crimean and Catalonian situation, a referendum was held in 2014 in the Donbass region of the then-Ukraine known as pro-Russian and, while the results were unclear, a group of journalists from the Frankfuter Allgemeine Zeitung and the WaPo found in their pre-referendum informal poll that over 98% of the Donbass residents would have voted yes in the pending referendum. No reports indicated that any less than 65% did or would have voted for secession, though the results are clouded by Western frantic attempts to sabotage them.
This Donbass referendum is in a way more important still than the analogy with Crimea because thereafter, the Kiev government started shelling peaceful Donbass civilians and destroying their homes. They’re still at it except that now, the US Congress will be sending arms to help Kiev kill more civilians.
Update, links showing shelling by Kiev:
And what was the response of the Atlanticists to all this bloodshed on the part of its “partners” in Kiev? Dead silence at first followed by the position that both sides were at fault. Imagine if Catalonia won its referendum, which is considered illegal by Spain and in response, Spain starts shelling Barcelona. No one in the West would stand for that and yet they were fine when Kiev shelled Donbass civilians.
If they want to be consistent, the entire Atlanticist Establishment will have to refer to the future accession of Catalonia to the EU as an illegal annexation, allow Spain to shell the wayward Catalonians with weapons furnished by America, and when the latter try to defend themselves, blame both sides for the conflict.
Do you suppose they will do this?
Give us your thoughts in the comments section above.
Our thanks to Andre Vltchek for allowing us to repost this informative article about the Afghanistan few or no Westerners know.
Afghanistan is here. You love it or hate it, or anything in between. But you cannot cheat: you are here and if you know how to see and feel, then you slowly begin to know. Or you are not here, and you cannot understand or judge it at all. No book can describe Afghanistan, and I’m wondering whether even films can. Maybe poetry can, maybe a theatre play or a novel can, but I’m not sure, yet.
All I know is that it is alive, far from being finished. Its heart is pulsating; its body is warm. If someone tells you that it is finished, don’t trust him. Come and see for yourself; just watch and listen.
by ANDRE VLTCHEK
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.
Most of those old gurus never set foot in Afghanistan, during the Soviet era or before, let alone after. All their ‘experience’ is second or third-hand, constructed mainly on sponging up bitterness from those who betrayed their own country and have been collaborating with the West, or at least on the confusion and mental breakdowns of their children.
Based on such recycled unconfirmed ‘facts’, bizarre theories are born. According to them, Afghanistan is ‘officially’ wrecked; it is hopelessly corrupt; it is beyond salvation and repair. It is ‘so divided, ethnically and otherwise’, that it can never function again as one entity.
Then come liberals, and the children of corrupt Afghan diplomats and exiled ‘elites’, who commonly justify their passivity by blaming the entire world for the destruction of their nation: “every country in the world just wants to harm Afghanistan, take shamelessly advantage of it.”
Naturally, if everybody is responsible, than nobody truly is. Therefore, as expected, ‘the grand conclusion’ is – “There is absolutely no hope.” Everyone who can is trying to leave; who in his or her right mind would want to dwell in such mayhem?”
Let’s just write the entire place off! Chapter closed. One of the greatest cultures on Earth is finished. Nothing can be done about it. Goodbye, Afghanistan! Ciao, bella!
For some, especially for those who left the country and slammed the door, it is a tempting and ‘reassuring’ way of looking at the state of things. It justifies their earlier decision. If one accepts such views, than nothing has to be done, because no matter what, things would never improve, anyway. For many, especially for those who are benefiting (even making careers) from doing absolutely nothing to save Afghanistan, such an approach and such theories are actually perfect. Very little of it matters to them, that almost all of this is total rubbish!
I never saw any of those professors from the MIT or Cornell University anywhere near the dusty roads cutting through Samar Khel or Charikar. I never saw any reporters from the Western mass media outlets here, in the deepest villages that keep changing hands between Taliban and the government forces, either. If they were here, I’d definitely spot them, as they tend to travel ‘in style’, like some buffoons from bygone eras: wearing ridiculous helmets, bulletproof vests, and PRESS insignias on all imaginable and unimaginable parts of their bodies, while being driven around in armored vehicles, often even with a full military escort.
It would be quite difficult to talk to Afghan people looking like that. There is not much one could actually even see from such an angle and perspective, but that’s the only one they are choosing to have, that is if they come here at all.
Let me back-track a bit: in case my readers in the West or elsewhere have never heard about Samar Khel. Well, it is a dusty town not far from Jalalabad, a former ‘grave’ for the Soviet forces and the National Afghan Army. During the “Soviet era”, the US and the Saudi-backed Mujahedeen used to fire between 500 and 1,000 missiles from here, all directly towards the city of Jalalabad, day after day.
It is very hard to imagine what went on and what went wrong in Afghanistan during the 1980’s, without feeling that 430C heat of the desert, without chewing dust, without facing those bare, hostile mountains, and without speaking to people who used to live here during ‘those days’, as well as people who have been existing, barely surviving here now.
It is also absolutely impossible to understand the Soviet Union and its ‘involvement’ in Afghanistan, without driving through the countryside and all of a sudden spotting in some ancient and god-forsaken village, a mighty and durable water duct built by Soviet engineers several decades ago, with electricity towers and high voltage wires still proudly spanning above.
By now I know that I don’t want to write another academic book. I wrote two of them, one about Indonesia and one about that enormous sprawl of water dotted with fantastic but devastated islands and atolls of the South Pacific – “Oceania”. To write academic books is time consuming and it is, in many ways, ‘selfish’. The true story gets buried under an avalanche of tedious facts and numbers, under footnotes and recycled quotes. Once such a book is read and returned to its place on a shelf, no one is really inspired or outraged, no one is terrified and no one is ready to build barricades and fight.
But most academic books and are never even read from cover to cover.
I see no point in writing books that wouldn’t inspire people to raise flags, to fight for their country and humanity.
I don’t work in Afghanistan in order to compile indexes and footnotes. I am there because the country itself is a victim of the most brutal and ongoing imperialist destruction in modern history. As an internationalist, I’m not here only to document; I’m here to accuse and to confront the venomous Western colonialist narrative frontally.
Afghanistan is bleeding, assaulted and terribly injured. Therefore it deserves to be fought for and not just to be analyzed and described. No cold and detached historic accounts, no texts written from a safe distance, can help this beautiful country to stand on its own feet, to regain its pride and hope, and to fly as it used to in the not so distant past.
It doesn’t need more and more nihilism. On the contrary, it is thirsting for optimism, for new friends, for hope.
Not all countries are the same. Even now, Afghanistan has friends, true friends, no matter how much this fact is being obscured by the Western propagandists, no matter how much pro-Western Afghan elites are trying to prove otherwise.
This is not what you are supposed to be reading. All remembrances of the “Soviet Era” in Afghanistan have been boxed and then labeled as “negative”, even “toxic”. No discussion on the topic is allowed in ‘polite circles’, at least in the West and in Afghanistan itself.
Afghanistan is where the Soviet Union was tricked into, and Afghanistan is where the Communist superpower received its final blow. ‘The victory of capitalism over communism’, the official Western narrative shouted. A ‘temporary destruction of all progressive alternatives for our humanity’, replied others, but mostly under their breath.
After the horrific, brutal and humiliating period of Gorbachev/Yeltsin, Russia shrunk both geographically and demographically, while going through indescribable agony. It hemorrhaged; it was bathing in its own excrement, while the West celebrated its temporary victory, dancing in front of the world map, envisioning the re-conquest of its former colonies.
But in the end Russia survived, regained its bearings and dignity, and once again became one of the most important countries on Earth, directly antagonistic to the global Western imperialist designs.
Afghanistan has never recovered. After the last Soviet combat troops left the country in 1989, it bled terribly for years, consumed by a brutal civil war. Its progressive government had to face the monstrous terror of the Western and Saudi-backed Mujahedeen, with individuals like Osama bin Laden in command of the jihadi genocide.
Socialists, Communists, secularists as well as almost all of those who were educated in the former Soviet Union or Eastern Block countries, were killed, exiled, or muzzled for decades.
Most of those who settled in the West simply betrayed; went along with the official Western narrative and dogma.
Even those individuals who still claimed to be part of the left, repeated like parrots, their pre-approved fib:
“Perhaps the Soviet Union was not as bad as the Mujahedeen, Taliban, or even the West, but it was really bad enough.”
I heard these lines in London and elsewhere, coming from several mouths of the corrupt Afghan ‘elites’ and their children. From the beginning I was doubtful. And then my work, my journeys to and through Afghanistan began. I spoke to dozens of people all over the country, doing exactly what I was discouraged to do: driving everywhere without an escort or protection, stopping in the middle of god-forsaken villages, entering fatal city slums infested with narcotics, approaching prominent intellectuals in Kabul, Jalalabad and elsewhere.
“Where are you from?” I was asked on many occasions.
“Russia,” I’d reply. It was a gross simplification. I was born in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, but an incredible mixture of Chinese, Russian, Czech and Austrian blood circles through my veins. Still, the name “Russia” came naturally to me, in the middle of Afghan deserts and deep gorges, especially in those places where I knew that my life was hanging on a thin thread. If I were to be allowed to utter one last word in this life, “Russia” was what I wanted it to be.
But after my declaration, the faces of the Afghan people would soften, unexpectedly and suddenly. “Welcome!” I’d hear again and again. An invitation to enter humble homes would follow: an offer to rest, to eat, or to just drink a glass of water.
‘Why?’ I often wondered. “Why?” I finally asked my driver and interpreter, Mr. Arif, who became my dear friend.
“It’s because in this country, Afghans love Russian people,” he replied simply and without any hesitation.
“Afghans love Russians?” I wondered. “Do you?”
“Yes,” he replied, smiling. “I do. Most of our people here do.”
Two days later I was sitting inside an armored UNESCO Land Cruiser, talking to a former Soviet-trained engineer, now a simple driver, Mr. Wahed Tooryalai. He allowed me to use his name; he had no fear, just accumulated anger, which he obviously wanted to get out of his system:
“When I sleep, I still sometimes see the former Soviet Union in my dreams. After that, I wake up and feel happy for one entire month. I remember everything I saw there, until now…”
I wanted to know what really made him so happy ‘there’?
Mr. Wahed did not hesitate:
“People! They are so kind. They are welcoming… Russians, Ukrainians… I felt so much at home there. Their culture is exactly like ours. Those who say that Russians ‘occupied’ Afghanistan have simply sold out. The Russians did so much for Afghanistan: they built entire housing communities like ‘Makroyan’, they built factories, even bakeries. In places such as Kandahar, people are still eating Russian bread…”
I recalled the Soviet-era water pipes that I photographed all over most of the humble Afghan countryside, as well as the elaborate water canals in and around cities like Jalalabad.
“There is so much propaganda against the Soviet Union,” I said.
“Only the Mujahedeen and the West hate Russians,” Mr. Wahed explained. “And those who are serving them.”
Then he continued:
“Almost all poor Afghan people would never say anything bad about Russians. But the government people are with the West, as well as those Afghan elites who are now living abroad: those who are buying real estate in London and Dubai, while selling their own country…those who are paid to ‘create public opinion.’”
His words flowed effortlessly; he knew precisely what he wanted to say, and they were bitter, but it was clearly what he felt:
“Before and during the Soviet era, there were Soviet doctors here, and also Soviet teachers. Now show me one doctor or teacher from the USA or UK based in the Afghan countryside! Russians were everywhere, and I still even remember some names: Lyudmila Nikolayevna… Show me one Western doctor or nurse based here now. Before, Russian doctors and nurses were working all over the country, and their salaries were so low… They spent half on their own living expenses, and the other half they distributed amongst our poor… Now look what the Americans and Europeans are doing: they all came here to make money!”
I recall my recent encounter with a Georgian combatant, serving under the US command at the Bagram base. Desperate, he recalled his experience to me:
“Before Bagram I served at the Leatherneck US Base, in Helmand Province. When the Americans were leaving, they even used to pull out concrete from the ground. They joked: “When we came here, there was nothing, and there will be nothing after we leave…” They prohibited us from giving food to local children. What we couldn’t consume, we had to destroy, but never give to local people. I still don’t understand, why? Those who come from the US or Western Europe are showing so much spite for the Afghan people!”
What a contrast!
Mr. Wahed recalled how the Soviet legacy was abruptly uprooted:
“After the Taliban era, we were all poor. There was hunger; we had nothing. Then the West came and began throwing money all around the place. Karzai and the elites kept grabbing all that they could, while repeating like parrots: “The US is good!” Diplomats serving Karzai’s government, the elites, they were building their houses in the US and UK, while people educated in the Soviet Union couldn’t get any decent jobs. We were all blacklisted. All education had to be dictated by the West. If you were educated in the USSR, Czechoslovakia, East Germany or Bulgaria, they’d just tell you straight to your face: Out with you, Communist! At least now we are allowed to at least get some jobs… We are still pure, clean, never corrupt!”
“Do people still remember?” I wonder.
“Of course they do! Go to the streets, or to a village market. Just tell them: “How are you my dear?” in Russian. They’d immediately invite you to their homes, feed you, embrace you…”
I tried a few days later, in the middle of the market… and it worked. I tried in a provincial town, and it worked again. I finally tried in a Taliban-infiltrated village some 60 kilometers from Kabul, and there it didn’t. But I still managed to get away.
I met Mr. Shakar Karimi in Pole Charkhi Village. A local patriarch, he used to be a district chief in Nangarhar Province.
I asked him, what the best system ever implemented in modern Afghanistan was?
First he spoke about the Khan dynasty, but then referred to a left-wing Afghan leader, who was brutally tortured and murdered by Taliban after they entered Kabul in 1996:
“If they’d let Dr. Najib govern in peace, that would have been the best for Afghanistan!”
I asked him about the Soviet invasion in 1979.
“They came because they were given wrong information. The first mistake was to enter Afghanistan. The second, fatal mistake was to leave.”
“What was the main difference between the Russians and Westerners during their engagement in Afghanistan?”
“The Russian people came predominately to serve, to help Afghanistan. The relationship between Russians and Afghans was always great. There was real friendship and people were interacting, even having parties together, visiting each other.”
I didn’t push him further; didn’t ask what was happening now. It was just too obvious. “Enormous walls and high voltage wires,” would be the answer. Drone zeppelins, weapons everywhere and an absolute lack of trust… and the shameless division between the few super rich and the great majority of the desperately poor… the most depressed country on the Asian continent.
Later I asked my comrade Arif, whether all this was really true?
“Of course!” He shouted, passionately. “100% true. The Russians built roads, they built homes for our people, and they treated Afghans so well, like their brothers. The Americans never did anything for Afghanistan, almost nothing. They only care about their own benefits.”
“If there would be a referendum right now, on a simple question: ‘do you want Afghanistan to be with Russia or with the United States, the great majority would vote for Russia, never for the US or Europe. And you know why? I’m Afghan: when my country is good, then I’m happy. If my country is doing bad, then I suffer! Most people here, unless they are brainwashed or corrupted by the Westerners, know perfectly well what Russia did for this country. And they know how the West injured our land.”
Of course this is not what every single Afghan person thinks, but most of them definitely do. Just go and drive to each and every corner of the country, and ask. You are not supposed to, of course. You are told to be scared to come here, to roam through this “lawless” land. And you are not supposed to go directly to the people. Instead you are expected to recycle the writings of toothless, cowardly academics, as well as servile mass media reports. If you are liberal, you are at least expected to say: “there is no hope, no solution, no future.”
At Goga Manda village, the fighting between the Taliban and government troops is still raging. All around the area, the remnants of rusty Soviet military hardware can be found, as well as old destroyed houses from the “Soviet era” battles.
The Taliban is positioned right behind the hills. Its fighters attack the armed forces of Afghanistan at least once a month.
Almost 16 years after the NATO invasion and consequent occupation of the country, this village, as thousands of other villages in Afghanistan, has no access to electricity, and to drinking water. There is no school within walking distance, and even a small and badly equipped medical post is far from here, some 5 kilometers away. Here, an average family of 6 has to survive on US$130 dollars per month, and that’s only if some members are actually working in the city.
I ask Mr. Rahmat Gul, who used to be a teacher in a nearby town, whether the “Russian times” were better.
He hesitated for almost one minute, and then replied vaguely:
“When the Russians were here, there was lots of shooting… It was real war… People used to die. During the jihad period, the Mujahedeen were positioned over there… they were shooting from those hills, while Soviet tanks were stationed near the river. Many civilians were caught in the crossfire.”
As I got ready to ask him more questions, my interpreter began to panic:
“Let’s go! Taliban is coming.”
He’s always calm. When he gets nervous, I know it is really time to run. We ran; just stepping on the accelerator and driving at breakneck speed towards the main road.
Before we parted, Mr. Wahed Tooryalai grabbed my hand. I knew he wanted to say something essential. I waited for him to formulate it. Then it came, in rusty but still excellent Russian:
“Sometimes I feel so hurt, so angry. Why did Gorbachev abandon us? Why? We were doing just fine. Why did he leave us? If he hadn’t betrayed us, life in Afghanistan would be great. I wouldn’t have to be a UN driver… I used to be the deputy director of an enormous bread factory, with 300 people working there: we were building our beloved country, feeding it. I hope Putin will not leave us.”
Then he looked at me, straight into my eyes, and suddenly I got goose bumps as he spoke, and my glasses got foggy:
“Please tell Mr. Putin: do hold our hand, as I’m now holding yours. Tell him what you saw in my country; tell him that we Afghans, or at least many of us, are still straight, strong and honest people. All this will end, and we will send the Americans and Europeans packing. It will happen very soon. Then please come and stand by us, by true Afghan patriots! We are here, ready and waiting. Come back, please.”
A son of the super elite Afghan ‘exiles’ living in London, once ‘shouted’ at me, via Whatsapp, after I dared to criticize one of the officially-recognized gurus of the Western anti-communist left, who happened to be his religiously admired deity:
“I’m completely amazed that you’d do such a thing. Then again, you’re Russian… And Russians held a strange superiority complex about dominating the whole Asian & African continents – even when nobody invited or asked them to. Historical examples are plenty… Don’t go to a country to report about what’s actually going on when you can’t even speak the language!”
This was his tough verdict on Russia and on my work; a verdict of ‘Afghan man in London’, who never even touched work in his entire life, being fully sustained by his morally corrupted family. He never travelled much, except when his father took him on one of the official diplomatic visits. He has been drinking, taking drugs and hating everything that fights, that defies the Empire. From President Duterte in the Philippines, to Maduro in Venezuela, and Assad in Syria. After he was taken out of Afghanistan at an extremely early age, he never set foot on its soil.
All of his knowledge was accumulated ‘second-hand’, but he is quick to pass endless moral judgments, and he is actually taken seriously by one of the most influential and famous ‘opposition’ figures in the West. It is because he is an Afghan, after all, and because he has a perfect English accent, and his ‘conclusions’ are ‘reasonable’, at least to some extent acceptable by the regime, and therefore trustworthy. He and others like him know perfectly well when to administer the required dose of anti-Soviet and anti-Russian sentiments, or when to choose well-tolerated anarcho-syndicalism over true revolutionary fervor.
Again in London, a lady from an Afghan diplomatic circle, who still takes pride in being somehow left-leaning (despite her recent history of serving the West), recalled with nostalgia and boasting pride:
“Once when I got sick, I travelled with my husband from Kabul to Prague, for medical treatment. It was in 80’s, and we took with us 5,000 dollars. You know, in those days in Czechoslovakia this was so much money! Our friends there never saw so much cash in their lives. We really had great time there.”
I listened politely and thought: ‘Damn, in those days, my two Czech uncles were building sugar mills, steel factories and turbines for developing countries like Syria, Egypt, Lebanon. I’m not sure whether they also worked in Afghanistan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. It was their internationalist duty and they were hardly making US$500 per month. The salary of my father, a leading nuclear scientist, who was in charge of the safety of VVR power plant reactors, was at that time (and at the real exchange) well under US$200 a month. These were very honest, hard-working people, doing their duty towards humanity. And then someone came from Kabul, from the capital of one of the poorest countries in Asia, recipient of aid and internationalist help from basically all Soviet Block countries, and blows 5.000 bob in just a few days!’
In those days, socialist Czechoslovakia was helping intensively, various revolutionary and anti-colonialist movements, all over the world. Even Ernesto Che Guevara was treated there, between his campaign in Congo, and his final engagement in Bolivia.
But the lady did not finish, yet:
“Once we crossed the border and travelled to the Soviet Union by land. You cannot imagine the misery we encountered in the villages, across the border! Life was much tougher there than on our side. Of course Moscow was different: Moscow was the capital, full of lights, truly impressive…”
Was that really so? Or was this official narrative that has been injected through the treasonous elites into the psyche of both Afghans and foreigners?
I listened, politely. I like stories, no matter from which direction they are coming. I took mental notes.
Then, back in Afghanistan, I asked Mr. Shakar Karimi point blank:
“You were travelling back and forth, between Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union. Was life in the Afghan countryside better than in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan?”
He stared at me, shocked. When my question finally fully sank into his brain, he began laughing:
“Soviet villages were so much richer, there could not be any comparison. They had all necessary facilities there, from electricity to water, schools and medical posts, even public transportation: either train or at least a bus. No one could deny this, unless they’d be totally blind or someone would pay them not to see! Of course Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, was totally different story: it was a huge and very important Soviet city, with theaters, museums, parks, hospitals and universities. But even the villages were, for us, shockingly wealthy. Culture at both sides of the border was, however, similar. And while the Soviets were engaged here in Afghanistan, things began developing at our side of the border, too.”
But who would listen to Mr. Shakar Karimi from Pole Charkhi Village, on the outskirts of Kabul. He hardly spoke English, and he had no idea how to be diplomatic and ‘acceptable’ to Londoners or New Yorkers. And what he was saying was not what was expected from the Afghans to say.
During my previous trip to Afghanistan, over the phone from Kabul, I suggested to my friend, another ‘elite’ Afghan exile, that the next time she should come with me, at least for a few days, in order to reconnect, to breath the air of the city that she has been claiming she missed so desperately, for so many years. Reply was curt, but somehow predictable:
“Me, coming back like this; incognito? You don’t understand, my family is so important! When I finally go back, it will be a big, big deal!”
It is very strange, but Afghans that I know from Afghanistan are totally different from those I meet in Europe and North America. So are Afghans who are going back, regularly, to their beloved country, and who are ‘connected’, even engaged.
In Rome, I met Afghan Princess Soraya. I was invited to Italy by several left-wing MP’s representing 5 Stelli (‘5 Star Movement’) and during our lunch together, when learning about my engagement in Afghanistan, they exclaimed: “You have to meet ‘our’ Afghan Princess!”
They called her on a mobile phone. She was in her 60s, but immediately she jumped on her bicycle and pedaled to the Parliament area in order to meet me. She was shockingly unpretentious, and endlessly kind. With her, nothing was a ‘big deal’. “Come meet me in the evening in the old Jewish Ghetto,” she suggested. “There will be an opening of a very interesting art exhibition there, in one of the galleries.”
We met again, in the evening. She was very critical of the occupation of her country by the NATO forces. She had no fear, nothing to hide. She had no need to play political games.
“I’m going back to Kandahar, in couple of weeks. Please let me know when you are going back to my country. I’ll arrange things for you. We’ll show you around Kandahar.”
In the meantime, I got used to Afghanistan; to its terrain, its stunning beauty, to its bitter cold in the winter and stifling heat of the summers, to its curtness, its exaggerated politeness and even to its hardly bearable roughness, which always surfaces at least once in a while. But I never got used to all of those upper-class ‘refugees’, people who have left Afghanistan permanently; to those who later betrayed, and then betrayed again, spreading false information about their country, serving Western media/propaganda outlets or as diplomats of the puppet state abroad, making a lucrative living out of their treason and out of the misery of their own people. I don’t think that I will ever get used to them. In a way, they are even worse than NATO, or at least equally as bad, and more deadly and venomous than the Taliban.
There are many ways how one can betray his or her country. There are also countless reasons and justifications for treason. Historically, Western colonialists developed entire networks of local, “native” collaborators, all over the world. These people have been ready and willing to run down their devastated countries, on behalf of the European and later, US imperialists, in exchange for prominent positions, titles and ‘respect’. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is not an exception.
On 21 January 2010, even Kabul Press had apparently enough, and it published damning article “Afghan UN Ambassador’s $4.2 million Manhattan apartment”
(https://www.kabulpress.org/article4590.html), referring to the super-luxury residence of then Afghan UN Ambassador, Zahir Tanin:
“Among the billions of dollars being spent propping up the Karzai government are some choice bits of New York City real estate. Number 1 is a 2,400 sq. ft. 3-bedroom corner apartment in the Trump World Tower, one of the world’s most expensive addresses. It was chosen by Zahir Tanin, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, who lives there with his wife.”
“According to Kabul press sources, eight other diplomats working in the Mission’s offices live about one hour away. The average rent for them is over $20,000 per month—extremely pricey even for Manhattan real estate. The previous Ambassador, Mr. Farhadi paid only $7,000 per month for all rent and expenses.”
“Other ambassadors, like Taib Jawad (Afghan Abmassador to the U.S.) are living in luxury residences, why not me?” our source quotes Tanin as saying.”
So many Afghans have left, many betrayed, but others are refusing to bend, remaining proud and honest.
During my previous visit to the country, I worked along the road separating the districts 3 and 5 in Kabul, photographing literally decomposing bodies of drug-users.
In June 2017 I returned, but this time I dared to film the people living under the bridges, and in deep infested hovels. Later I walked on the riverbank, trying to gain some perspective and to film from various angles.
Someone was making threatening gestures from the distance; someone else aimed a gun at me. I ducked for cover.
“Not very welcoming place, is it?” I heard loud laughter behind my back. Someone spoke perfect English.
I turned back. A well-dressed man approached me. We exchanged a few words. I explained what I was doing here and he understood immediately.
“Here is my card,” he said. Muhammad Maroof (Sarwan), Vice-President of the Duniya Construction Company,” it read. He continued:
“I came to this warehouse here to deliver my products, and I saw you filming. You’re lucky you were not hit by a bullet.”
“I want to talk,” he said, pointing his hand at the bridge. “Don’t film me, just take notes. You can quote me, even use my name.”
He explained that he used to work for the US military, as an interpreter.
Then he began speaking, clearly and coherently:
“The biggest mafias here are directly linked to both UK and US. The West lies that they want to stop trade with drugs in Afghanistan; they never will allow it to stop.”
“My brother is a writer and he has images of the U.S. army giving water pumps, studs and other basic stuff, for the growth of poppies. The biggest supporter of drugs production in Afghanistan, and the export, is the UK government. They are dealing directly with the locals, even giving them money… The UK is also the major market for the export. Helmand, Kandahar, you name it, from there, directly, transport planes are taking off and going straight towards Europe, even the US. The Westerners are people who physically put drugs into the airplane at our airports.”
“My relative was an interpreter for the British… He was killed by them, after he had been witnessing and interpreting at a meeting between the UK officials, and the local drug mafias.”
I was wondering whether he was certain he wanted to speak on the record. My interpreter was standing by, apparently impressed by what he was witnessing. Mr. Maroof did not hesitate:
“I have nothing to hide. They are destroying my country right in front of my eyes. What could be more horrifying than that? The Western occupation is ruining Afghanistan. I want the world to be aware of it, and I don’t care what could happen to me!”
Not all the opposition to the present regime in Kabul is fighting for true independence and progressive ideals. Some have close links with the West, or /and with the Mujahedeen.
In Kabul, in June 2017, inside a makeshift camp built near the site of a devastating explosion which in May killed at least 90 people, injuring 400, I met with Ramish Noori, the spokesperson of Haji Zahir Qadir’s “Uprising for Change”. The powerful “Uprising” counts on at least a 1,000-men strong militia, one which is locked in brutal combat with ISIS (Daesh), and which has already beheaded several terrorist fighters in ‘retaliatory’ actions.
Mr. Noory clearly indicated that the goal of his group is to force the present government to resign, even if that would have to happen with the help of foreign countries:
“We were shot at in Kabul and 6 protesters were killed, 21 injured. Professional Special Forces of Ashraf Ghani shot those who were killed point blank, in the face. Instead of killing terrorists, this government is killing innocent protesters; people who came to demand security after that barbaric terrorist attack which took lives of 90 people. We actually believe that many government officials are responsible for the killings. We also think that the government is helping to coordinate attacks of the terrorists.”
Mr. Samir, one of the protesters, began shouting in anger:
“The government is killing its own people, and so we want both Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to resign. We want an entire reset of the Afghan system. Look what is happening all around the country: killings, bomb blasts and unbridled corruption!”
But when I press them hard, I feel that behind their words there is no sound ideology, just geographically swappable ‘civil society talk’. And perhaps some power struggle as well.
I don’t know who is supporting them, who is behind them, but I feel that someone definitely is. What they say is right, but it is how they say it that worries me.
I ask Ramish Noori about the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, and suddenly there is a long pause. Then a brief answer in a slightly uncomfortable tone of voice:
“We are ready to work with any country that is supporting our position.”
“Can I stop by later today?” I ask.
“Of course. Anytime. We’ll be here till the morning. We are expecting the Mujahedeen to join us in the early hours.”
Next time I will investigate further.
I visited the British Cemetery in Kabul. Not out of some perverse curiosity, but because, during my last visit, I was given this tip by a Russian cultural attaché:
“See how patient, how tolerant Afghan people are… After all that has been done to them…”
I’m glad that I went. The cemetery puts the events of the last 2 centuries into clear perspective. To a clear British perspective…
Full of patriotic sentimentality, The Telegraph once described this place as: “Afghanistan: The corner of Kabul that is forever England.”
There was no repentance, no soul-searching, no questions asked, like: What was England doing here, thousands of miles away from its shores, again and again… and again?”
Above the names of fallen English soldiers, there was a sober but unrepentant dedication:
“This memorial is dedicated to all those British officers and soldiers who gave their lives in the Afghan wars of the 19th and 20th Century. Renovated by the officers and soldiers of the British Contingent of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. February 2002. “We Shall Remember Them””
The cemetery is well kept. There is no vandalism and no graffiti. In Afghanistan, the death of Englishmen, Spaniards and other foreigners is respected.
Unfortunately, the death of Afghan people is not even worth commemorating, anymore.
How many Afghans did those British troops massacre, in two long centuries? Shouldn’t there be a monument, somewhere in Kabul, to those thousands of victims of British imperialism? Perhaps there will be… one day, but not anytime soon.
Again I drove to Bagram, filming the monstrous walls of the US military and air force base.
Again I saw children with toy guns, running and imitating landing combat helicopters.
Again I saw misery, right next to the gates of the base; poor women covered by burkas, babies in their arms, sitting in stifling heat on speed bumps, begging.
I saw amputees, empty stares of poor local people.
All this destitution, just a few steps away from tens of billions of dollars wasted on high-tech military equipment, which has succeeded in breaking the spirit of millions of Afghan people, but never in ‘liberating the country from terrorism’, or poverty.
I drove to the village of Dashtak, in Panjshir Valley, to hear more stories about those jihadi cadres who were based here during the war with the Soviet Union.
I was stopped, detained, interrogated, on several occasions, sometimes ten times per day: On the Afghan-Pakistani border which has recently experienced fighting between two countries, in Kabul, Jalalabad, Bargam. I lost track of who was who: police, army, security forces, local security forces, or militias?
In front of Jalalabad Airport I tried to film an enormous US blimp drone, on its final approach before landing. I asked my driver to make a U-turn, my drift HD camera ready. One minute later, the military stopped the car, aiming its guns at us. I had to get out, put my hands on a wall, and surrender my mobile phones. After our identity was verified from Kabul, one of the soldiers explained:
“Yesterday, exactly the same Toyota Corolla drove by, made the same U-turn and then blew itself up, next to this wall…”
In Jalalabad, I spoke to a police officer wounded at the national Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) station, during a terrorist attack.
It all felt surreal. The entire country seems to be dissolving; yet it is refusing to fall, to collapse. It is still standing. And despite rubble, fighting and the insane cynicism of the elites, there is still hope, and even some optimism left.
I’m trying to understand.
“Afghans living abroad keep spreading false rumors that we are finished, that everybody wants to leave,” explains Arif, my driver and interpreter. “But it’s not true. More and more people want to stay home, to improve things, to rebuild our motherland. She is beautiful, isn’t she?”
We are passing through a winding road, enormous mountains on both sides, and a river with crystal-clear water just a few meters away.
“She is,” I say. “Of course she is.”
We stopped near a small mosque, almost clinging to a cliff. It was the month of Ramadan. Arif was diligent; he went to pray. I also left the car and went to look into a deep and stunning ravine. Another car arrived; an off-roader, most likely an armored vehicle. The driver killed the engine. Three heavily armed men descended. They left their machine guns near the entrance to the mosque, washed their feet, and then went inside to pray.
Before they entered, we all nodded at each other, politely.
Surprisingly, I did not feel threatened. I never did, in Afghanistan.
The scenery reminded me of South America, most likely of Chile – tremendous peaks, a deep valley, serpentines and powerful river down below.
I felt strong and alive in Afghanistan. Many things have gone wrong in this country, but almost everything was clear, hardly any bullshit. Mountains were mountains, rivers were rivers, misery was misery and fighters were fighters, good or bad. I liked that. I liked that very much.
“Arif,” I asked, sipping Argentinian jerba mate from my elaborate metal straw, as we were gradually approaching Kabul. It was Malta Cruz, a common, harsh mate, but a decent one.
“Do you think I can get Afghan citizenship if we kick out Yanks and Europeans, defeat Taliban and Daesh, and rebuild socialist paradise here?”
I was joking, just joking, after a long and exhausting day of work around Jalalabad.
However, Arif looked suddenly very serious. He slowed the car down.
“You like? You like Afghanistan that much?”
“Hmmm,” I nodded.
“I think, if we win, they’ll make sure to give you Afghan nationality,” he finally concluded.
We were still very far from winning. After returning me to my hotel, he categorically refused to take money for his work. I insisted, but he kept refusing.
It all felt somehow familiar and good. Back in my hotel room, exhausted, I collapsed onto the bed, fully dressed. I fell asleep immediately.
Then, late at night, there were two loud explosions right under the hill.
Afghanistan is here. You love it or hate it, or anything in between. But you cannot cheat: you are here and if you know how to see and feel, then you slowly begin to know. Or you are not here, and you cannot understand or judge it at all. No book can describe Afghanistan, and I’m wondering whether even films can. Maybe poetry can, maybe a theatre play or a novel can, but I’m not sure, yet.
All I know is that it is alive, far from being finished. Its heart is pulsating; its body is warm. If someone tells you that it is finished, don’t trust him. Come and see for yourself; just watch and listen.
More articles by:ANDRE VLTCHEK
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.
Just today, we read that the Pope is part of the grand scheme to keep people under the delusion that Russia is the problem and not the solution in Syria and that China should not help to moderate between the West and North Korea in the interest of peace. And in keeping with the Western reporting format, no reasons whatsoever are given for his conclusions. The CIA issues accusations against Russia assuming the reader will bow to its expertise and the pope perhaps assumes his audience knows he is God’s spokesman.
Below is our translation from the Italian of Pope Francisco's statement to journalist Eugenio Scalfari of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
“Pope Francisco told me was very concerned about the G20 summit. ‘I’m afraid there are rather dangerous alliances between the powers that have a distorted view of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Putin and Assad in the war in Syria’.”
There he goes again, mixing geopolitics and religion. We shall analyze the problem with Mr. Bersoglio’s meddling, but first let us preface our remarks by saying that, while we respect titles, we must respectfully decline to use the term “his Holiness” when referring to the pope. Traditional Protestants generally adhere to the Bible first, above any church, and they recall the words “God is no respecter of persons.” Nowhere in the scriptures do we read of a human other than Christ being holy, whereas, in Orthodoxy, “his Holiness” refers to the patriarch, and to no one else. But back to our analysis.
Firstly, there are some (hopefully not too many) Catholics who believe that the pope is God’s mouthpiece in all matters, even those in which he has no expertise, such as, oh say, international relations and geopolitics.
These naïve souls will unthinkingly assume that God is talking through Jorge Bertoglio when he brays about Russia, Assad and other things he simply fails to comprehend.
Secondly, there are skeptics amongst us, such as Protestants and non-believers, who will instantly recall in this context the Great Schism of 1054 and the untoward influence it had on Byzantium and what is now called Eastern Orthodoxy – which today includes, for example, Russian Orthodoxy and Syrian Orthodoxy. We refer here to two savage attacks, the first by the Byzantines, ie, the 1182 Massacre of the Latins, where the Roman Catholics from Italy (the West) were on the receiving end of the violence triggered by their alleged arrogance and refusal to heed Byzantine laws; and the second, the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 when the Catholics turned the tables on the Byzantines (Easterners) and massacred them.
This crusade against what we now call the Eastern Orthodox resulted indirectly in such a weakening of the Christians in that region that they soon fell prey to Muslim invaders, and today, since Christians could not get along with each other, the Turks are still there and are a thorn in the side to all of Europe.
The resounding message from those tragic events for all of Christendom today is that peaceful coexistence and tolerance in the Christian world is essential for the survival of the faith and Western culture.
So is the pope hearing this message?
Incredibly, there has been no substantive change in the West in its attitude toward the East. Religious intolerance is still the order of the day.
Far from an attempt at reconciliation, the pope’s statement is a clear harsh condemnation of the East – Russia, Assad and ally China.
Now note that when asked once about a matter of morality defined in the Bible, a matter clearly within his purview, Jorge demurred: “who am I to judge?” (one is tempted to ask: Well, you are the pope, aren’t you?).
Yet in matters of geostrategic import, Jorge, whose specialty is preaching and administering wafers and wine glasses to the faithful, is only too willing to offer an unsolicited opinion.
The fact that he declines to explain why the US-Russia alliance or the Russia-Assad alliance is dangerous, suggests that the old anti-Eastern prejudice is as operative today as it was a millennium ago and that religion is still the blessed tie that separates. By warning of the Russia-Assad alliance, Mr. Bersoglio is warning against the legitimately elected president of Syria, who is seen by Orthodox Christians in Syria as the only obstacle to the eradication of their kind in the region. Interviews with Syrian Christians constantly confirm this. They fear US intervention and pray fervently that Russia will prevail (which, thank God, it has so far). In condemning the Russia-Assad alliance, and without providing a rationale for this condemnation, the pope is suggesting to historically aware Protestants, Catholics and non-believers alike that he is simply supporting the age-old papal antipathy of the East and all it stands for. While hoping that his remarks will be taken as a sage warning (of what?), he is in fact doing nothing more than nakedly promoting corrosive religious bigotry. Silly us. We thought such papally inspired persecution was confined to the Middle Ages.
But what about Putin? Is he not doing likewise, simply favoring the East and bashing the West?
Let us consider the following:
In November 2015 a Turkish fighter shot down a Russian jet and the Turkish government justified this attack – an act of war – on the allegation that the jet had grazed the Syrian-Turkish border on the Turkish side. No matter how you look at it, since both sides were supposedly united in the common cause against terrorism, the act was not in any way morally justified. Of course, the US government was delighted at the shootdown and said nothing.
But the Turks were at that time close to concluding a lucrative deal with Russia for laying a gas pipeline through Turkey. This fact may have been the reason that Erdogan later apologized to Putin for the shootdown and claimed it was not done on his orders. More importantly, in the meantime, a coup was attempted against Erdogan, including a murder plot to kill him. Once the coup was put down, a rumor surfaced that it was Putin who had warned Erdogan about the attempt, enabling him to avoid landing his plane at the airport where the plotters waited with their long knives.
Whether the story of Putin saving Erdogan’s life is true or just a rumor, Putin did in fact tell Erdogan that the US was behind the coup, and thanks to this sincerity on Putin’s part, the two leaders made up and fully restored the relations between their countries, thanks to Putin’s willingness to forgive. Whilst there have been hitches and glitches in Turkey-Russia relations, the reconciliation has held. We are tempted to call Putin’s behavior applied Christianity.
Further, we note that US officialdom and msm abuse Putin constantly, frequently call him a thug but without a shred of evidence to support this title, while Putin invariably turns the other cheek, always referring to the US as a partner. You can’t help but think of Jesus.
So here is a man who was educated in law and trained in the art of strategic intelligence behaving suspiciously like a devout Christian in his public life.
Contrast this with a man who was educated in the outward performance of Christian religious rites and rituals but who still bears a grudge against Christians with a different style of worship because of a conflict that occurred a thousand years ago. He just can’t seem to get over it.