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Date: Thu, 27 Aug 98 10:20:50 CDT
From: Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: The CIA and the Taliban
Article: 41997
To: undisclosed-recipients:;;@chumbly.math.missouri.edu
Message-ID: <bulk.10623.19980829001540@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Afghan feudal reaction: Washington reaps what it has sown

By John Catalinotto, Workers World,
3 September 1998

With a missile strike at what it described as a terrorist base camp 90 miles southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, Washington has added an insult to that country's sovereignty after inflicting 20 years of injury on its people.

Considering the recent U.S. record in Afghanistan, the Clinton administration's complaints these days about the reactionary and anti-woman Taliban regime in Kabul and its railings against the so-called terrorist leader Osama bin Laden ring hollow.

Starting in 1978 a progressive government came to power in Kabul. It championed women's rights, spread education and tried to replace feudal backwardness with enlightenment.

The U.S. financed a bloody counter-revolutionary war against this progressive government. The war killed and displaced millions and brought the Taliban to power.

More and more the big-business media are revealing Washington's role in financing both Afghan reaction and bin Laden. But they are unlikely to highlight the glorious attempt of Afghan communists to bring that country into the modern era.

To learn about the Afghan revolution, you can read the Pentagon's own publication, Afghanistan--a Country Study for 1986. Written for U.S. personnel working abroad, this book contains--along with the usual anti-communist propaganda--much useful information about the changes instituted by the 1978 revolution.


Before the revolution, 5 percent of Afghanistan's rural landowners owned more than 45 percent of the arable land. A third of the rural people were landless laborers, sharecroppers or tenants.

Debts to the landlords and to money lenders were a regular feature of rural life, says the U.S. Army report. An indebted farmer turned over half his crop each year to the money lender.

When the PDPA [People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan] took power, it quickly moved to remove both land-ownership inequalities and usury, says the Pentagon report. Decree number six of the revolution canceled mortgage debts of agricultural laborers, tenants and small landowners.

The revolutionary regime set up extensive literacy programs, especially for women. It printed textbooks in many languages--Dari, Pashtu, Uzbek, Turkic and Baluchi. The government trained many more teachers, built additional schools and kindergartens, and instituted nurseries for orphans, says the country study.

Before the revolution, female illiteracy had been 96.3 percent in Afghanistan. Rural illiteracy of both sexes was 90.5 percent.

By 1985, despite the CIA-financed counter-revolutionary war, there had been an 80-percent increase in hospital beds. The government initiated mobile medical units and brigades of women and young people to go to the undeveloped countryside and provide medical services to the peasants for the first time.

Among the very first decrees of the revolutionary regime were to prohibit bride-price and give women freedom of choice in marriage. Historically, said the U.S. manual, gender roles and women's status have been tied to property relations. Women and children tend to be assimilated into the concept of property and to belong to a male.

Also: A bride who did not exhibit signs of virginity on the wedding night could be murdered by her father and/or brothers.

The revolution was challenging all this.

Young women in the cities, where the new government's authority was strong, could tear off the veil, freely go out in public, attend school and get a job.


The revolution had been thrust upon the PDPA in 1978. The reactionary government of Mohammad Daoud, which was close to both the Shah of Iran and the United States, arrested almost the entire leadership of the PDPA on April 26, 1978. There had been a huge funeral procession just a week earlier for a murdered member of the party, and the progressive masses in Kabul saw the new arrests as an attempt to annihilate the party, just as the military junta had done to the workers' parties in Chile five years earlier.

An uprising by the lower ranks of the military freed the popular party leader, Nur Mohammad Taraki--the soldiers actually broke down his prison walls with a tank. Within a day, Daoud was overthrown and a revolutionary government proclaimed, headed by Taraki.

This uprising of the soldiers and the city masses, many of them low-paid civil servants in a country with very little industry, held the promise of breaking down the old traditions based on oppression and fear.

The leaders of the PDPA were educated, although some, like Taraki, came from very poor families. But they had been to Kabul University, some had studied abroad, and they yearned to bring enlightenment and material progress to Afghanistan.

Had all this happened sometime between 1789, when the French bourgeois revolution overthrew the feudal monarchy, and the first proletarian revolution in Russia in 1917, Afghanistan might have been welcomed into the fold of progressive bourgeois nations. But it happened in the age of imperialism and the Cold War.


Instead of welcoming these steps toward progress, the U.S. CIA began building a mercenary army, recruiting feudal warlords and their servants for a holy war against the communists, who had liberated their women and their peasants.

U.S. policy was to fight pro-socialist ele ments at all costs, even if this meant promot ing the most reactionary forces in society.

The only country in the area ready to help the Afghani revolution was the Soviet Union. The USSR intervened militarily. But it could not defeat this well-armed counter- revolutionary force.

The Aug. 24 New York Times, in an article about the bases struck by U.S. missiles Aug. 20, reports that these counter- revolutionaries had been backed by the intelligence services of the United States and Saudi Arabia with nearly $6 billion worth of weapons.

The CIA's military and financial support for the Afghan rebels indirectly helped build the camps that the United States attacked, the Times continues. And some of the same warriors who fought the Soviets with the CIA's help are now fighting under Mr. bin Laden's banner.

More than 2 million Afghanis were killed in the civil war, and millions more made refugees. Now half the remaining population--the women--have been returned to the status of property without a single human right. A poor man unable to pay his debts can now have his hand cut off for theft.

When the Taliban first seized Kabul in September 1996, the Clinton administration immediately talked of establishing relations. Unocal Corp., a U.S.-based oil company functioning in the region, was almost jubilant as it readied a multi-billion-dollar pipeline project to stretch from the oil riches of the Caspian Sea to Indian Ocean ports in Pakistan.

But the Taliban immediately revealed their most reactionary side, executing without trial their political opponents, barring women and girls from schools, and refusing to let women work or even leave the house. Both Clinton and Unocal were forced by an angry world response to mute their support.

Now the Clinton administration is pressuring the Taliban to crush bin Laden or run the risk of being branded a terrorist state. But a look at history shows the terror started in the Pentagon and CIA.