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Feminism, the Taliban and the Politics of Counterinsurgency by Saba Mahmood by Charles Hirschkind n a cool, breezy evening in MarchHollywood celebrities turned out in large numbers to show their support for the Feminist Majority's campaign against the Taliban's brutal treatment of Afghan women.
The person spearheading this campaign was Mavis Leno, Jay Leno's wife, who had been catapulted into political activism when she heard about the plight of Afghan women living under the brutal regime of the Taliban.
The Feminist Majority claims that it was their work that eventually dissuaded Unocal officials to abandon plans to develop a natural gas pipeline in Afghanistan, and convinced Hollywood-friendly Bill Clinton to condemn the Taliban regime.
Throughout, what seemed strange to us about this campaign was the studied silence on the crucial role the United States had played in creating the miserable conditions under which Afghan women were living. Even though the Feminist Majority and some of the women's journals pointed to the civil war as an important background to the current misfortune of Afghan women, there was little attempt to connect this with the massive military and economic support that the US had provided, as part of its Cold War strategy, to the most extreme of Afghan religious militant groups and which made the conditions ripe for the Taliban to come into power.
An Afghan woman and child at the Roghani refugee camp in Pakistan, December Given its mass popularity, the Feminist Majority's campaign served as a key element in the construction of the Taliban as an enemy particularly deserving of our wrath because of their harsh treatment of women.
After the September 11 attacks, the burqa-clad bodies of Afghan women became the visible sign of an invisible enemy that threatened not only us, but our entire civilization.
As Laura Bush put it in her November 17,radio address to the nation: In December two months after the start of the US military offensive--the Feminist Majority website remained stubbornly focused on the ills of Taliban rule, with no mention of the hundreds of thousands of victims of three years of drought who were put at greater risk of starvation because US bombing severely restricted the delivery of food aid.
The Feminist Majority made no attempts to join the calls issued by a number of humanitarian organizations--including the Afghan Women's Mission--to halt the bombing so that food could be transported to these 2.
The point is not the inadequacies and omissions of the Feminist Majority's campaign, but the assumptions and attitudes that made these omissions possible.
These are not peculiar to the Feminist Majority but are widely reflected in American public opinion: The Taliban in many ways have become a potent symbol of all that liberal public opinion regards as grievously wrong with Islamic societies these days, proof of the intense misogyny long ascribed to Islam, and most emphatically to those movements within Islam referred to as fundamentalist.
That from the rubble left behind by the game of superpower politics played out on Afghan bodies and communities, we can only identify the misogynist machinations of the Islamic fundamentalist, testifies to the power this image bears, and the force it exerts on our political imagination.
Counterinsurgency It is odd how the increasing public discussion of US involvement in the civil war in Afghanistan has not altered the neat circuit of women's oppression, Taliban evil and Islamic fundamentalism.
Again, we might recall a little of this stunning history. US interests were first stirred in what was until then a neglected part of Southwest Asia when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in President Jimmy Carter signed a directive to begin covert operations in Afghanistan in order to harass the Soviet occupying forces by supplying funds, weapons and other forms of support to the Afghan fighters known as the mujahideen.
Byunder the Reagan administration, this project had mushroomed into the largest covert operation in US history since World War II. This policy of promoting extremist Islamic groups in the region, and equipping them with the most sophisticated military and intelligence equipment, had gradually, over a period of 10 years, created the political climate in which the emergence of the Taliban was a predictable outcome.
Even though the Taliban did not come into power untilwell after both the US and Soviet Union had withdrawn from the region, the methods of the Taliban were not much different from those groups the US and its allies had supported.
Neither are the practices of the Northern Alliance, which the US--albeit nervously--supported during its campaign against the Taliban. The arms pipeline established between the US; the ISI, Pakistan's intelligence agency; and the mujahideen was notoriously corrupt, and many of the arms that the CIA supplied ended up sold in the open market or channeled to groups of fighters already known for excessively violent tactics against non-combatants living within the area of conflict.
The CIA turned a blind eye to this arms leak, chalking it up to the necessary cost of a covert operation, and in so doing, turned the region into one of the most heavily armed areas in the world.
In addition, as the Afghan mujahideen gained control over liberated zones in Afghanistan, they required their supporters to grow opium to support the resistance.
Under CIA and Pakistani protection, Pakistan military and Afghan resistance fighters opened heroin labs on the border between the two countries. By this region was supplying 60 percent of the US demand for heroin. In Pakistan the results were particularly horrendous: Focusing exclusively on the Taliban as the root of Afghanistan's problems obscures both the cause of those problems and their solution.
Typical is the Feminist Majority's claim that "Afghanistan, under the Taliban rule, [had] become the number one producer of illicit opium and heroin in the world.
On the contrary, according to the United Nations, the Taliban all but eliminated heroin production from areas under their control during their first year in power. The Feminist Majority's narrow focus on Taliban rule, and its silence regarding the channeling of US aid to the most brutal and violent Afghan groups of which the Taliban were only oneseemed to cast an ominous shadow on the integrity of its campaign.
At the very least it raised the question why conditions of war, militarization, and starvation were considered to be less injurious to women than lack of education, employment, and, most notably, Western clothes.
The Feminist Majority's silence on these issues was coupled with a highly selective and limited representation of Afghan life under Taliban rule, one that filtered out all information that might contribute to a more nuanced understanding of Afghan women's situation. For example, the Taliban decree to ban girls and women from schools affected only a tiny minority of urban dwellers, since the majority of the population lives in rural areas where schools are almost nonexistent: Likewise, rarely was it mentioned that the Taliban's policy of disarming the population--and the strict surveillance of all major areas under their control--had made it possible for the first time in years for women to move outside their homes without fear of being raped of course, being beaten for a variety of moral transgressions remained a distinct possibility.
Thus, even though Taliban policies had made conditions much worse for urban women, they did not substantially affect the lives of the vast majority of rural women, either because many of the Taliban edicts already mirrored facts of rural life, or because those edicts were never enforced.Joseph Stalin was the head of the communist party and the leader of the Soviet Union from to He came to power after the death of Vladimir Lenin.
He created the centrally planned economy in the Soviet Union in order to expand it's industries and become a modern industrial power, carrying /5(3). Kite Runner - A Modern Journey Through Afghanistan. Add to Favorites. Process.
Why does Osama shift his focus from the Soviet Union to the United States in ? Women under Taliban Threat - TIME Photo Essay.
Associated article with preceding photo essay. The story revolves around the life of Amir and is set throughout such events like the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan, the military intervention of the Soviet Union, mass departure of refugees to the U.S.
and Pakistan, and the Taliban regime establishment. History of Taliban Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in , the Taliban emerged as a resistance movement aiming to eject the Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
According to The New York Times, the Soviet Union lost about 15, soldiers in Afghanistan. In , the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan, and the.
Jun 08, · Unlike the Vietnam War, the beginning of the ongoing war in Afghanistan can be dated very precisely to October 7, , when U.S. and British forces launched an invasion to remove the Taliban from power and rout al Qaeda from its mountain sanctuaries along the border with Pakistan.
Excerpt from Term Paper: War on Terrorism vs. The Bill of Rights Conveniently capitalizing on the fear of another terrorist attack, the United States Department of Defense and other branches of the federal government have erected a series of security measures since September The most notable of these is the so-called USA PATRIOT Act (HR), passed in October of