U.S. and Afghanistan: The cynical abuse of ‘women’s rights’

first_imgThis article, originally published in 2007 in Workers World’s “Lavender & Red series, exposes an Islamophobic argument hidden under the cloak of “human rights” and “women’s rights” as propaganda used by imperialists to justify military aggression. The same false argument was recently deployed by neo-Nazi, white supremacist organizers of June 10 anti-Muslim rallies in the U.S. See Feinberg’s entire historic series on the deep interconnections between socialism and LGBTQ liberation at workers.org/lavender-red/. The U.S. did not unleash war on Afghanistan in 2001 to “liberate” women. But pro-war spin doctors — embedded with the corporate media — went into overdrive to create that impression after 9/11. Public relations campaigns “sold” as liberation a high-tech imperialist war against an impoverished country with no air force.This was designed to obscure the fact that imperialism had no right to violate Afghanistan’s self-determination and sovereignty.The New York Times offered a more candid geopolitical view as early as Jan. 18, 1996, in an article entitled “The New Great Game in Asia” — referring to the 19th-century struggle among capitalist powers to control the Eurasian landmass and the warm-water ports of the Persian Gulf.The Times explained, “While few have noticed, Central Asia has again emerged as a murky battleground among big powers engaged in an old and rough geopolitical game. Western experts believe that the largely untapped oil and natural gas riches of the Caspian Sea countries could make that region the Persian Gulf of the next century. The object of the revived game is to befriend leaders of the former Soviet republics controlling the oil, while neutralizing Russian suspicions and devising secure alternative pipeline routes to world markets.”After overturning the bloc of workers’ states in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, U.S. finance capital schemed to secure ownership of trillions of dollars worth of buried oil and gas treasure in the Caspian Sea region, which had for decades been collectively owned by the workers and peoples of the region.Transnational energy giants like Unocal and Enron saw Afghanistan as the best path to pipe oil and gas from Central Asia to the world market.The Bush neo-cons, Pentagon brass and the military-industrial complex worked overtime to frame this as a campaign for women’s rights.Laura Bush delivered the presidential radio address on Nov. 16, 2001 — a month after the Pentagon assault began. Her speech focused on women’s rights in Afghanistan: “The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women.” It was a total lie.Afghan Revolution advanced women’s rightsAn article in Workers World on Oct. 10, 1996, by Deirdre Griswold showed how a progressive revolution in Afghanistan in 1978 had taken measures to liberate women and challenge centuries of landlordism. In response, the U.S. pulled together an army of pro-feudal elements to crush that revolutionary government, forcing it to call on the USSR for support.The WW article quoted from a 1986 Department of Defense publication titled “Afghanistan — a Country Study.” Even this Pentagon book had to admit that the 1978 revolution brought many gains to Afghan women and girls.Women were organized in the Democratic Women’s Organization of Afghanistan. The national group had been founded in 1965 by Dr. Anahita Ratebzada. Her companion Babrak Karmal, who founded the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan the same year, later became the country’s president.One of the first actions of the revolution was to end “bride-price” and allow women to make marriage choices. Punishment of women who had sex outside of marriage was prohibited. Women could choose to wear or not to wear the veil, travel in public, get an education and work at a job. Women of all classes — not just the well-to-do — were trained as doctors, teachers and lawyers.Brigades of women and other young Afghans brought medical care to rural peasants.The revolution impacted the life of one-third of the rural population — landless peasants, sharecroppers and tenants held in virtual bondage to landlords and moneylenders.Before the revolution, 5 percent of the landlords claimed ownership of more than 45 percent of the country’s arable land. “When the PDPA took power,” the Pentagon report noted, “it quickly moved to remove both landownership inequalities and usury.” One of the revolutionary land reforms was the cancellation of mortgage debt for agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.On the eve of the revolution, 96.3 percent of the women of Afghanistan were illiterate; rural illiteracy for all the sexes was 90.5 percent. The progressive government created massive literacy programs and printed textbooks in Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi.The 1986 Pentagon report stated, “The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans.”The Washington Post admitted that Afghan women were the strongest supporters of the 1978 revolution.But this revolution was crushed by a well-funded, well-armed counterrevolution in which U.S. imperialism made common cause with feudal patriarchs. Women were then bought and sold as property once again.National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and former CIA Director Robert M. Gates later publicly bragged that, beginning in early 1979, the CIA had funneled money and arms to counterrevolutionary groups, many of them members of militias loyal to local landowners.Democrats and Republicans had approved at least $8 billion for this counterrevolutionary effort that hired, armed and trained the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and other forces.CIA historian John Ranelagh recalls that then President Jimmy Carter OK’d “more secret operations than Reagan later did.” Carter later admitted in his memoirs that his administration actually considered the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the progressive developments in Afghanistan.U.S. set women’s rights back centuriesBy 1992 the Soviet Union was overturned and the progressive government in Afghanistan was defeated by imperialism. After four years of internecine struggle among different Afghan factions, the Taliban came to power.Michael Meacher, a senior Labor Party member of Parliament who had been a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, observed in a Sept. 6, 2003, article in the Guardian of London: “Until July 2001 the U.S. government saw the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the Indian Ocean.“But confronted with the Taliban’s refusal to accept U.S. conditions, the U.S. representatives told them ‘either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.’”Washington took advantage of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to launch an invasion of Afghanistan.U.S. occupiers appointed former Unocal advisors to be both the titular president of Afghanistan and the U.S. ambassador to the country.The continuing imperialist blitzkrieg has destroyed the infrastructure — including potable water, sewage and electricity — worsening hunger and disease. Soviet-built public urban housing complexes and schools lie in ruins.These conditions create suffering for all sexes, genders and sexualities in Afghanistan, particularly for women. In 2004, some provinces reported 593 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births.Pentagon Special Forces commandos can kick in the door of a home at any hour of the day or night, body search Afghan women and their loved ones, and drag them all off in hoods to torture chambers.That’s imperialist-style “liberation.”Research by Minnie Bruce Pratt contributed to the original article. The late Leslie Feinberg was a managing editor of Workers World newspaper and the first theorist to advance a Marxist concept of “trans liberation” in the groundbreaking “Transgender Warriors: Making History” (Beacon Press, 1996). Feinberg also authored the now-classic novel, “Stone Butch Blues” (1993), available as free digital download at www.lesliefeinberg.netFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Speech: Launch of the new Toyota Corolla

first_imgHiroki Nakajima, Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge honour and a pleasure to be here to celebrate this success. Dr van Zyl referred to the decision to invest in TNGA. That was a thrilling moment to have that vote of confidence in the future, building on the success of over a quarter of a century of achievements here in Derbyshire.But it is a particular pleasure to be able to meet team members on the line to see it now going into production and making cars that will be sold not just in this country but around the world. And it is fitting that you have invited what I like to think of as team Toyota here from the plant, from the local community and right across the country and we are all delighted at your success and are determined to make sure it can power forward in the future.Now the Corolla of course is a historic car. This is a historic moment for a historic car. When it was launched in 1966, it was launched with these words, that it was “The most wanted car by the market – presented to the world by bringing together the essence of Toyota’s technology”. And what we see today through this investment is that those values and those traditions continue.Right from the outset, it was the Corolla that brought sports car technology to the school run if I can put it that way. It was the first family car with front brake discs. It was the first Japanese car with a floor-mounted gear lever. And the first Japanese car with a 4-speed fully-synchronised manual transmission. Britons, when it was first launched, could own a piece of the future, and this is as true now as it was then.The Corolla that we are celebrating today is a fitting heir to this tradition of continuing innovation. And as we move into the era of clean technology, the facts that the hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota is being produced here in Derbyshire, and of course in Deeside in North Wales, is a tremendous source of pride to all of us in the United Kingdom.2,600 people work here, members of Toyota work force here onsite and 600 more in Deeside. But of course, we know that beyond the factory gates so many partners are part of this success and I know that many of them are represented here today. I just wanted to refer to and pay tribute to those who may not have the Toyota brand but are very much part of that success. Adient who supply seats for the vehicles just down the road in Burton-Upon-Trent. I think Garry Linnett is here from Aisin who produce panoramic car roofs. This fantastic innovation that’s going to be appreciated for those endless summer days that we look forward to in the UK.Kevin Schofield, I think is here from Futaba who produces the weld and sub-assembly parts, and seeing all of these parts come in at short notice, and seeing them so brilliantly deployed in these vehicles, is a real demonstration of the power of the model that Toyota has pioneered and has taught much of the rest of British manufacturing.So, this has always been a successful partnership. We have drawn and learnt much from Toyota’s presence here. We think this has been a successful joint-collaboration over the years and we are thrilled that it is moving to the next stage.Dr van Zyl reflected the importance of having those conditions that have been central to success. Having a skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce that we have in abundance here and you always will. But also, to make sure we recognise the importance of public policy that is supportive and backs investments like this. We should be able to continue to trade without introducing any of those frictions that would disrupt what is a perfect process that has been optimised here.I hear that very strongly. Over the years, the evidence that has been presented by Toyota and other firms within the advanced manufacturing sector in the UK has been instrumental in determining the kind of relationship that we want.In these days ahead, I will continue to be a strong advocate for that kind of relationship which has been so crucial to our success.Toyota has done the country a service, in bringing to life the benefits and the actuality of just-in-time production of advanced manufacturing and the benefits that there are to all. We are very grateful for that and we give this commitment; we will always back you, we will always celebrate your success, and we will always listen to you, and to act on what you need to prosper in the future.Today’s a fantastic day of celebration. It is a huge honour to have been asked to be part of it. Thank you very much indeed for inviting me. I’d like to hand over to the ambassador.last_img read more

Group reflects on semester, sets goals

first_imgSaint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) did end-of-semester housekeeping Wednesday night by discussing what has gone right so far and assessing goals that still need to be accomplished. The executives held individual meetings with the members of the Board and said its members agreed they had succeeded on several fronts: a good team atmosphere, successful commissioners and increased visibility on campus, student body president Rachael Chesley said. “These are things we virtually heard from everybody,” she said. “Most people commented on the foundation of a team. They feel as SGA, everyone is working together as a team.” At the beginning of the academic year, SGA commissioners and executives went on a retreat together to build camaraderie, Chesley said. The Board said this made commissioners more successful in their positions. Chesley said commissioners feel comfortable enough to really “take action” this year. The majority of the Board also said they have improved at “reaching out to the student body as a whole,” Laura Smith, student body vice president, said. “Everyone mentioned they feel SGA is much more visible this year through events taking place and also through emails and keeping the office open,” Chesley said. Kelly Lyons, president of the Class of 2011, said she has seen a huge shift since last year’s SGA. “Last year, I didn’t really know what SGA was or what it was a part of, but I feel like this year, that has changed a lot,” Lyons said. SGA then discussed changes that could be made and improvements that need to be implemented in the coming semester. Members said they need to improve communication between the Finance Committee — which reviews sponsorship requests from clubs and organizations on campus — and the larger board. “Everyone, overall, said they like how instead of spending the whole time on hearing sponsorships and voting who gets what in the larger meetings, we can deal with other things, but you also want to know where the money is going,” Chesley said. Starting next semester, there will be minute-long reports about how the money is spent, she said. Members also suggested a State of the Union address to let the campus community know what SGA is doing and to let “students know this is actually what we’ve been doing and we haven’t been hiding,” Emily Skirtich, chief of staff, said. Finally, the group discussed major projects they would like to see done in the spring. The Board wished to address the technology issues on campus, such as the lack of printers, the possibility of adding bike racks on campus, improving its recently launched website and completing the Le Mans Hall basement renovations, which when completed will be a common area for students. Chesley reminded the Board that the April 1 turnover date will approach quickly when the staff returns for the spring semester. “The projects that we pick, we need to jump on them right when we get back,” she said.last_img read more