“When once a nation begins to think, it is impossible to stop it,” Voltaire prophetically scribed more than a decade before the 1789 Storming of the Bastille. Not unlike French revolutionaries over 200 years ago, the people of Egypt have awoken after years of demoralization, making one wonder if and when a similar epic rousing shall be seen in Afghanistan, where the government has degraded and preyed upon its citizenry to an even greater extent than Mubarak has the Egyptians.
The parallels are so striking it prompted Dexter Filkins to ask in a New Yorker piece: “After Tahrir Square, do we really think the Afghans won’t notice?”
Of course, the Afghans have already noticed that, like Egypt, they live under a repressive, illegitimate and corrupt puppet government of the United States and certainly have noticed how their leaders criminally hoard countless billions of Western aid that was initially not intentioned to help build summer homes in Dubai for Afghan political and societal elite.
The Afghans have also noticed how their de facto dictatorship retains its power through elections so fraudulent they insult the collective intelligence of the population, in the same way Mubarak’s mockery of democracy insulted the people of Egypt.
What hasn’t registered within the Afghan psyche is the idea that there might be an alternative. Thoughts of taking it upon themselves to actuate change, alter conditions and take back their country have not been at forefront of the Afghan mind considering its people have been paralyzed – mired in a tumultuous and violent nexus between Western imperialism, Taliban fascism and a reprobate government.
It is obvious that the middle of a war is neither an ideal time or place for the eruption of a mass uprising. Radical times demands radical means, and an audacious plan is required for the Afghans to overcome the current situation. But in order to do so, they will have to flee the warzone – they must, paradoxically, leave their homeland in order to rediscover it and restore the tribal balance that once was the foundation of 40 years of peace and stability between the 1930s and 1970s under King Zahir Shah.
An indigenous movement is afoot being driven by the Afghan Diaspora – a plan that calls for exiting Afghanistan and traveling to nonaligned countries to hold traditional tribal meetings called jirgas to select a legitimate representative government based on the true will of the Afghans, a proposal entitled Afghanistan National Reconciliation.
This process will produce leaders empowered with moral authority to govern as opposed to the current strongmen and powerbrokers that derive their mandates from the barrel of a gun.
Like the Egyptians, the Afghans cannot wait around for the U.S. to wake up and engender democratic reform. As Filkins points out, American officials say privately that corruption in Karzai’s government directly feeds the insurgency, yet the U.S. looks the other way, seeing no evil.
This negligence on America’s part has served to only strengthen the Taliban movement because, as much as the Afghan people fear the Taliban’s extremist and fascist Islamist ideology, they despise the Afghan government even more.
However, it isn’t as if the U.S. is incapable of understanding the problem, the issue is that perhaps they do not want to understand. Just like in Egypt, the global elite do not want indigenous people to rise up and take back their homeland because they would rather control it.
Mubarak afforded the U.S. a level of control and guaranteed regional stability. Karzai does the same but has proven erratic, actually fostering instability, which will force the U.S. to maintain a presence in Central Asia indefinitely, withdrawal timelines be damned.
U.S. apologists – both Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative – have tried to cloak American motives behind tags such as “realism” and “idealism” to rationalize America’s support for the Mubarak and Karzai tyrannies. As Time’s Joe Klein recently wrote:
The truth is, both strict realism and idealism have failed us overseas. Too often, realism is just a rationale for maintaining the autocratic status quo, which never lasts, especially when presided over by terminal narcissists like Mubarak and Karzai. Too often, idealism assumes democracy can be plopped into a culture without a middle class or a history of free institutions.
What Klein misses is that democray isn’t the problem – the problem is trying to force a Western-style over-centralized form of democracy onto the Afghans, as attempts to eradicate indigenous institutions and supplant a fragmented tribal structure have never worked. Besides, tribal culture yielded a unique form of Afghan democracy that had worked for thousands of years prior to foreign intervention.
Dictators worldwide and their Western sponsors have grown nervous lately based on the developments in Egypt and Tunisia. And now the time is nearing for anxiety to be injected into the hearts of the U.S. and its client in Kabul because the Afghan people are beyond the point of desperation and, even more disconcerting to the global elite – the Afghans have begun to think.