Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A People's History of Afghanistan--Part 2: 1876 to 1901

The Democratic Obama Administration’s Pentagon spent nearly a billion dollars in 2009 on the Afghan War contracts it awarded for construction projects that were mostly on U.S. military bases across Afghanistan . Yet most U.S. taxpayers still probably know little about the 19th-century history of people in Afghanistan or about the wars that were fought in Afghanistan during the 19th century.

After occupying Quetta in Baluchistan in 1876 and converting it into a military base, UK imperialism, for example, launched the Second Anglo-Afghan War by again invading Afghanistan . The UK government then replaced Sher Ali Khan as Afghanistan ’s king by putting Sher Ali’s son, Yaqub Khan, on the Afghan throne. Yaqub Khan was then forced by the UK government to sign the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879.

As a result of the 1879 Treaty of Gandamak, the feudalist monarchical regime agreed to let the UK government control Afghanistan ’s foreign affairs and establish UK diplomatic missions in Kabul and other Afghan cities. It also gave the British control of large areas of Afghanistan west of the Indus River in exchange for the UK government agreeing to now pay the new Afghan king, Yaqub Khan, an annual subsidy of 60,000 British pounds per year.

But, naturally, most Afghans who lived in Kabul did not support the terms of the May 1879 Treaty of Gandamak and were against giving the UK government so much special influence in Afghanistan . So in September 1879 the UK government’s diplomatic representative in Kabul was murdered “by mutinous Afghan soldiers who had been assigned to protect him,” according to Afghanistan: A Modern History by Angelo Rasanayagam. In retaliation, a British general named Roberts moved his troops into Kabul on October 12, 1879 and forced Yaqub Khan to abdicate. Then General Roberts “became the virtual ruler of Kabul , instigating a rule of terror that was bitterly resisted” until “the British forces found themselves under siege,” by Afghan resistance fighters, according to the same book.

But after being defeated in open battle by Afghan resistance fighters on July 27, 1880 at Maiwand, near the Afghan city of Kandahar , UK troops were finally withdrawn from Afghanistan in April 1881, thus ending the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Yet before withdrawing its troops, the UK government began supporting an Afghan feudal warlord, Abdur Rahman Khan, after Rahman had marched on Kabul and declared himself the new Afghan king in Charikar on July 20, 1880. In this way, the UK government insured that Afghanistan would continue to be a British protectorate whose foreign policy would be controlled by the UK government, instead of being a fully independent state.

Known as the “Iron Amir,” Afghan King Abdur Rahman ruled over people in Afghanistan in a repressive way. Afghanistan: A Modern History described how this British imperialist-backed monarch governed Afghanistan :

“In almost continuous warfare during his 20-year reign, rebellions were punished by mass executions, or deportations, such as the forced resettlement of thousands of Ghilzai Pashtun tribesmen…He established a ruthless police force to subjugate suspected opponents and uncooperative officials.”

Not surprisingly, the UK government whose special interests he served provided Rahman’s repressive regime in Afghanistan with “substantial supplies of arms and ammunition,” according to the same book. And, like the previous 19th-century Afghan kings, Abdur Rahman also was paid an annual subsidy by the UK government during his reign of nearly 20 years. Between 1.2 million and 1.85 million Indian rupees per year were paid to Rahman between 1882 and 1901 by the UK government; and Rahman used a portion of his annual subsidy from the British imperialists to fund his recruitment of the Afghan troops he required to continue to rule people in Afghanistan in an undemocratic way.

(end of part 2. To be followed by “A People’s History of Afghanistan—Part 3: 1901-1924))

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A People's History of Afghanistan--Part 1: 1838 to 1876

The number of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan has increased from 51,000 to between 70,000 and 100,000 since Barack Obama’s inauguration as U.S. president in January 2009. And there are still between 60,000 and 101,000 armed private contractors--as well as 38,000 combat troops in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] from countries other than the USA-- in Afghanistan in 2010. Yet if you grew up in the USA , your high school social studies teacher was likely to know more about the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than about the history of Afghanistan .

Although no people of Jewish religious background lived in Afghanistan prior to the 19th century, by the end of the 1840s (after the Anglo-Indian army of UK imperialism which had invaded Afghanistan in 1838 was driven out by the Afghan people in the early 1840s) about the same number of people of Jewish background then lived in Afghanistan as then lived in the United States. As Raphael Patai noted in her book Tents of Jacob, “the number of Jews in Afghanistan in the mid-nineteenth century was estimated at 40,000.”

Yet the aim of the UK government’s military occupation of Kabul between 1839 and 1842, during the First Anglo-Afghan War, was just mainly to prop up an ineffectual and unpopular leader named Shah Shuja, whom the UK government had put in power, in place of Afghan King Dost Mohammad Khan, as Afghanistan ’s ruler.

UK troops in Afghanistan , however, found the Afghan people to be opposed to their presence in Afghanistan ; and, between 1839 and 1842, there were “increasingly effective armed attacks on the British garrison” in Kabul , according to Afghanistan: A Modern History by Angelo Rasanayagam. The UK troops were soon forced to retreat from Kabul to Jalalabad, “through narrow mountain defiles and passes in the harshest wintry conditions, with the long columns of soldiers” and their civilian camp followers “being continuously shot at and ambushed by ferocious Ghilzai tribesmen from the surrounding hills,” according to the same book. As a result, around 9,500 (including 600 English officers and their families) of the primarily Indian troops of UK imperialism and 12,000 Indian civilian camp followers lost their lives when they were defeated militarily by people in Afghanistan during the 1839-1842 Anglo-Afghan War.

In revenge for being defeated in the First Anglo-Afghan War, however, UK troops returned to Kabul in 1843 and sacked Kabul . But because of its defeat in the 1839-1842 war, the UK government agreed to invite Dost Mohammad Khan to return to Kabul and resume his position as Afghan King. Twelve years later, on March 30, 1855, a treaty of friendship was signed between the UK government and Dost Mohammad’s feudalist government.

The UK government then started to pay King Dost Mohammad an annual subsidy of 10,000 British pounds to help protect its strategic interests in that area of the world. Dost Mohammad remained on the Afghan throne until 1863; and between 1863 and 1878, Dost Mohammad’s son, Sher Ali Khan, was Afghanistan ’s ruling monarch.

After the UK army again intervened in Afghanistan in October 1856 to force the Persian/Iranian government troops that had occupied the city of Herat in western Afghanistan to withdraw, the UK government did not openly intervene in Afghanistan ’s internal affairs again until 1876. But as the book Afghanistan: A Modern History noted, “when Disraeli became [ UK ] prime minister, the tacit policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan ended, and was replaced by the `forward policy’…”

(end of part 1. "A People's History of Afghanistan--Part 2: 1876 to 1901" to soon follow).

15th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing: Remembering McVeigh's U.S. Military Connections

Prior to being accused of involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing [of 15 years ago], former Sgt. McVeigh was in the U.S. Army between either 1988 or 1989 and 1992, fought in the 1991 "Kuwaitigate War" and was stationed at Fort Riley, near Junction City, Kansas. According to the Times (4/28/95) "before the bombing," McVeigh "was reportedly seen on the streets and in the bars, gasoline stations and motels of Junction City," next door to Fort Riley.

At McVeigh's initial hearing, FBI agent Hersley "testified that unnamed witnesses saw" McVeigh "bring a truck rented from a Ryder agency to the Dreamland Motel in Junction City...on April 17 [1995], and then saw him in the truck at 4 a.m. on April 18 [1995], 29 hours before the bomb exploded." But "a Pentagon spokesman...disputed a report that Army explosives might have been used in the bombing" in Oklahoma City. (NY Times 4/28/95)

The Buffalo News (4/23/95) noted that "records of McVeigh's military service with the First Infantry Division have been sealed...but fellow soldiers told the Associated Press that he served in the Gulf War as a Bradley vehicle gunner and a sergeant" and "Sgt. James Ives said McVeigh, eager to join the Army Special Forces, trained on his own time..." Sgt. Ives also told the NY Times (4/23/95) that former Sgt. McVeigh "was a good soldier" and "if he was given a mission and target, `it's gone.'"

At McVeigh's initial hearing, FBI agent Hersley testified "that three witnesses who had claimed to have seen a man lingering outside," the Oklahoma City federal building "minutes before the bombing on April 19 [1995] were unable to identify Mr. McVeigh at a lineup."

(Downtown 5/17/95)

The grand jury that's supposed to be investigating who actually ordered the Oklahoma City bombing in April [1995] apparently met "in private at the heavily secured Tinker Air Force Base outside Oklahoma City" and "witnesses" were "accompanied by FBI agents on flights to Oklahoma" and "escorted 24 hours-a-day by federal agents," according to the Dallas Morning News (6/4/95). Prior to being accused of involvement in this bombing, former Sgt. McVeigh was apparently being considered by admission into the elite U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg.

According to Inside the Green Berets: The First Thirty Years, by Charles Simpson III, "a certain aura of secrecy surrounded the early days of Special Forces, both based on its mission and the identity of the troops" during the 1950s and "little or no publicity was permitted." The same book also recalled that, within the U.S. Army's Special Forces team, "the demolitionists acquired special techniques of conserving explosives and concocting homemade explosives and detonators from locally procured materials."

In addition, the demolitionists of the U.S. Special Forces "learn to make booby traps and sabotage motors," "visited hydroelectric plants, factories, transofrmer stations, and rail yards to learn to recognize critical points for quick knockout blos" and "learned to derail a trian anda to rig a desk drawer to blow up when opened."

(Downtown 6/14/95)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Black Male Worker "Seasonally Adjusted" Jobless Rate Jumps To 19 Percent Under Obama

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black male workers over 20-years-of- age in the United States under the Democratic Obama Administration jumped from 17.8 to 19 percent between February and March 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for all U.S. male workers over 20-years-of-age remained at 10 percent, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “not seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black male workers over 20-years-of age also jumped from 19.1 to 20.2 percent between February and March 2010.

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for white female workers over 20 years-of-age remained at 7.3 percent between February and March 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Black female workers over 20 years-of-age increased from 12.1 to 12.4 percent in March 2010.

The number of unemployed Black male workers over 20-years-of-age increased from 1,424,000 to 1,542,000 workers between February and March 2010, according to the “seasonally adjusted” figures; while the number of unemployed white workers decreased from 10,982,000 to 10,945,000, according to the “seasonally adjusted” figures. Between February and March 2010, the total number of unemployed workers in the United States also increased from 14,871,000 to 15,005,000 workers, according to the “seasonally adjusted” data.

The official “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for all Hispanic or Latino workers increased from 12.4 to 12.6 percent between February and March 2010; while the official “not seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for Asian-American workers decreased from 8.4 to 7.5 percent.

The “seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Black youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 41.1 percent in March 2010; while the “seasonally adjusted” unemployment rate for white youths between 16 and 19 years-of-age was 23.7 percent in March 2010. The “not seasonally adjusted” jobless rate for Hispanic or Latino youth between 16 and 19 years-of-age was still 30.1 percent in March 2010.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April 2, 2010 press release:

“Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 162,000 in March, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent…Temporary help services and health care continued to add jobs over the month. Employment in federal government also rose, reflecting the hiring of temporary workers for Census 2010. Employment continued to decline in financial activities and information…

“In March, the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 15.0 million, and the unemployment rate remained at 9.7 percent…

“The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) increased by 414,000 over the month to 6.5 million. In March, 44.1 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more…

“The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased to 9.1 million in March. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

“About 2.3 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in March, compared with 2.1 million a year earlier…These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey…

“Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in March, up by 309,000 from a year earlier…Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them…

“Temporary help services added 40,000 jobs in March…

“Employment in federal government was up over the month, reflecting the hiring of 48,000 temporary workers for the decennial census…

“In March, financial activities shed 21,000 jobs, with the largest losses occurring in insurance carriers and related activities (-9,000). Employment in the information industry decreased by 12,000…”