In reply to a comrade in arms

My comrade in arms, and all round good egg, Harpy Marx, has written a post with me in mind today – well, I’m mentioned at the very least.

It’s in response to a blog I wrote in response to one written by Laurie Penny on women’s rights and the cod-feminist narrative for entering into Afghanistan.

I have replied to the response to the response by HM (response to the response – do keep up) on her comments thread.

For purposes of posterity I recall that response here:

It goes without saying that women’s rights under the Taliban was dreadful, reports emerged last year that women’s rights were put back a few notches before the election when Karzai resorted to dreadful inter-marriage rape – beyond the pale – just to notch up a few Shia votes.

But I detect two things with the argument that the imperialists made it worse: a) that we’re simply unable to hold our hands up and say there are people in Afghanistan who really want to make women’s lives tough – we have to explain this away by inserting the imperialists into the picture, and b) it follows logically that when “foreign imperial invaders” enter a country, a set of things will necessarily happen, like suicide bombing will increase, like Taliban membership will rise, and that women’s rights will be set back further.

They both look like this to me: unpalatable Afghans have only become so unpalatable because of the Americans.

Now of course it is not that simple, rather it is because of these unpalatable types, the size, the power and the networks of these unpalatable types that justifies a military effort by NATO forces to strengthen the Afghan state and army to contain the Taliban where it had no chance of doing so before, and it also necessitates the need to empower Pakistan for the reason that on the border between the two countries is where the Taliban are at its most effective and bloody – setting women back hundreds of years.

I’ll throw my hands up and say, most unorthodox I know, as a staunch socialist, but I think intervention in Afghanistan is justified; what grows in Afghanistan and Pakistan puts into jeopardy peace on this earth as much as any imperialist strategy.

The difference is that I don’t think the US went in too fussed about this myself; I think they wanted to get Osama, eventually they thought that Saddam Hussein had links to al-Qaeda – both flawed – but yet, crucially, I think whether neoconservatives were behind the the venture into Afghanistan or pinko lefty peaceniks, eventually the bubble that had been created by global terror networks al-Qaeda and the Taliban would have burst and necessitated NATO forces of all stripes to enter and strengthen the armies of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to beat a domestic problem and contain a global one (which terror cells pose now).

I’m happy to accept that the strategy hasn’t been always successful in Afghanistan, but I refuse to accept that because NATO forces entered the country, that by causality, so women’s rights have suffered – my finger most directly is pointing towards domestic movements in those countries who have had a historical part to play in putting women back a 1000 years.


Forget George Galloway

I’ve seen George Galloway argue with heavyweight Christopher Hitchens for two hours on whether it is right to invade Iraq, I’ve seen him wax lyrical over the injustices sanctioned by the Israeli government, I’ve seen him talk at length on the miscarriages of justice felt by Muslims in this country, I’ve even seen Galloway talk about why Jade Goody was not being racist as such in the Big Brother house, but rather, reacting to a series of overlooked class prejudices bestowed upon her by Shilpa Shetty.

Each time I’ve ever seen Galloway speak, despite not being his biggest fan, I’ve always been quietly impressed, and moved in some respects to the anger and fire that he has in his voice.

Which is why I am very surprised that during his light touch interview recently with, effectively his employer while being at PressTV, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the interview amounted to niceties and nothingness.

Although, quite why I should be surprised is beyond me. Galloway, after all, is obviously keen on Ahmadinejad – who he calls “his excellency” – and the President’s commitment to the poor of Iran.

In the video (below) Galloway’s last question directed to the Iranian President concerns the stoning of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtani, the woman in Iran due to be put to death by stoning for supposedly committing adultery.

Galloway asks:

Final question Mr President, every so often an issue comes along, which is seized upon by the enemies of Iran, and magnified, and it becomes a heavy problem. One such is the punishment, scheduled originally against a woman convicted of adultery. The so called stoning case. I see that president Lula from Brazil has asked Iran if he can take this woman into exile there, to solve this problem. Can Iran agree to this?

Ahmadinejad answers by saying little more that the courts are separate, he hopes to see the matter resolved soon, and on the point of whether President Lula of Brazil – who along with President Erdogen of Turkey recently – should offer asylum to Ashtiani, Ahmadinejad says he would prefer to export technology, not such people to Brazil.

The interview finishes there, no more is said, and Galloway in his closing comments back in the studio has the cheek to say “The president gave me the indication that this matter would be resolved.”

This is not something that could happen in the future; it is something that is happening now. Galloway shouldn’t just let Ahmadinejad get off by saying the courts are separate, but then what more should I expect from Galloway – whose sick perversion of politics and commitment to appealing to his enemies enemy as a friend has seen him “glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and [him] glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah – who was reported to have said the numbers of Jews who died in the Holocaust had been exaggerated, and has shown courtesy to Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

In fact, Galloway made no mention of Ahmadinejad’s view that the figures of those who died in the Holocaust had been exaggerated. Galloway didn’t even touch on the subject of homosexuals, and how not only do they exist in Iran (see below), but they are frequently hanged in public for being so.

On the subject of Ashtiani, Galloway made no mention of how Iranian courts exploit Article 105 of the Islamic Penal Code which states “The Shari’a Judge can act upon his own knowledge in the cases of [defending] the God’s Rights and People’s Rights and carry out the punishment constituted by the God and it is necessary that he documents his knowledge.”

The sheer openness of this article means that judgements can be made entirely on interpretation rather than documented evidence, which is the case for Sakineh where forensic evidence of her adultery is missing.

Galloway made no mention of the fact that even within Islamic law itself, adultery cannot be proven satisfactorily before the perpetrator has confessed under free conditions on three separate occasions, or if four males, whom the court are happy to trust, actually witness the act of penetration – rendering the charge of adultery almost impossible unless these things have been satisfied.

Galloway made no mention of Mohammed Mostafaei, the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtani, who is on the run from Iranian authorities after receiving a course of intimidation from them, who also pray on his wife and his brother in law who have been arrested.

Galloway did not mention the human rights abuses, particularly of women; in fact Galloway missed an opportunity so golden, I fail to see why we should listen to a single further word he has to say.

Mr Galloway knows how to make a clear, tangible argument, and is normally not afraid of doing so. But if he thinks he has satisfied his critics by asking Ahmadinejad a few soft questions, and not challenging him or his legitimacy as both President and bringer of justice, then he is wrong.

Mr Galloway is a coward and no element of the left wing in this or any other country should have anything else to do with him. He represents a perversion of politics based upon befriending those who his enemies distrust, and no sensible political theory or action can rest upon this.