Professor Zaher Wahab,
Professor of Education
Lewis & Clark College
SF BAY Area, California
Date: Sunday, July 10, 2011
Dear Professor Zaher Wahab,
AsSalaam O Alekum.
I was once again greatly disturbed by the dismal plight of the beleaguered Afghanis from your first hand eyewitness account. From Palestine to Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan, only the dead have seen the end of war. That wise truism is not mine. It’s Plato’s. The living continue to suffer it, obviously, and for a lot longer after the last canons have fallen silent. The DU ravaged Afghanistan whose several generations have been offered in blood-sacrifice to the great game of the white man, will surely take more than just the withdrawal of military occupation to restore its shattered tabula rasa.
Restitution and punitive damages alone will dwarf what is being spent on the war in Afghanistan today – last time I checked costofwar.com, which was just before completing this letter, the monetary cost of war in Afghanistan to the United States’ peoples was projected to be: $432,241,617,128. The Jews have extracted far more in damages for their holocaust. They have been compensated by gifting them another peoples’ land. What has befallen the Afghan people, now into its fourth decade, is no less than a holocaust of their entire civilization which dwarfs anything experienced by the Jews in the Third Reich. No – let’s not be the house negroes and water-down the restoration of Afghanistan so trivially as just demanding an end to the occupation like the Americans do because it is costing them too much. When you have already admitted in your opening statement in your talk that “I think it was absolutely wrong for the United States to attack and invade Afghanistan, because Afghanistan as such had nothing to do with 9/11… ”, then demand it with the uninhibited eloquence to match the cataclysm that’s been purveyed upon an entire innocent civilization.
I have spent some time reading your missives on your blog to acquaint myself with your thoughts, as I had unfortunately not heard of your good name before yesterday. I also have to admit that I felt a bit relieved not to see your name in the long list of contributors on page 12 of the August 16, 2010 afghanistanstudygroup.org‘s Report titled ‘A New Way Forward’.
Why did I feel this sense of relief? And why am I writing to you at all? I know many Pakistanis involved in reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. I also know many Afghanis. I also once enjoyed a very long chat of several hours with a close progeny of the former ruling family of Afghanistan. Nothing you have said is news to me of course. In fact, what I found most interesting is what you didn’t say – but perhaps you have done so elsewhere. While it is my great misfortune that I have never visited Afghanistan even when it is right next door to Pakistan, its tens of thousands of refugees still surrounding my city of Islamabad a few of whom I am acquainted with as I tend to hire them when I am in Pakistan, I am a tad familiar with the nation upon whose fertile soil Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, by his own admission delighted in “giving to the USSR its Vietnam War” in Afghani Muslim blood. So why indeed am I writing to you?
After hearing your talk yesterday, I genuinely felt like initiating a conversation with you – but I do not know where to begin. The matters are as long and as complicated as the war on Afghanistan has been diabolical. But at a certain level, these matters are also incredibly straightforward. Therefore, I thought I’d just begin by inviting your comment on my old article Insurgency vs. Counter-Insurgency. I invite you to do so because you made the following correct statement in your talk: “What president Obama is doing, unfortunately, is simply escalate the war, deepen it, expand it, and destabilize the whole region.” (time 5:50) But you seemed to have missed the obvious modus operandi for doing what you say Obama is doing, when you also stated: “The Taliban now in the insurgency keep saying that they have nothing against the United States. They have nothing against the US government, the US people, or the country. And they keep saying that they have no agenda beyond their own freedom of their own country. So I think that needs to be understood.” (time 3:40)
“Tickling” insurgency to create pretext for counter-insurgency is an art as old as hegemony, as old as mankind. I am surprised you aren’t familiar with it. The aforementioned article elaborates on your crucial omission. It is not what people say which often catches my eye, it is what they don’t say which I find intriguing. And I would therefore, very much like to hear your candid (un-sugared) opinion on what I present in that article. Perhaps you can add more insights to it.
Since you are an Afghani who has become an American, and your heart is torn between these two nations, the victim and the victimizer, as you so passionately opened your talk by frankly saying so, I felt anyone who will admit to it right off the bat that they are torn between dual loyalties to both the victim and the victimizer, is speaking directly from their heart. You must experience a great deal of angst. I hope my intuition is not misplaced. It is because of this intuition, that I heard an honest man speak, that I write to you.
If I hear back from you, I know that we can have a mutually beneficial conversation. I am most anxious to hear further details of the not-so-easily visible conditions today in that very cradle of civilization which are not openly talked about. That war ravaged country is being further raped, not just by the imperial storm troopers and their Allies carrying the white man’s burden, but by pious opportunists of all color in proxy services to the occupation, and in pay back, as I am sure you too must have observed in your many trips to your home country. While you correctly noted the “gangsterization of Afghanistan” amongst its many-times victimized simple tribal peoples, I am more interested in hearing about her plundering by the uber-sophisticated Westernized Afghan elites themselves, rushing to Afghanistan from various corners of the world on the victimizer’s many flavored “rebuilding missions”.
I have yet to meet an Afghan who is both a real Afghan, i.e., not an Uncle Tom, and is also willing to accept the gratuitous largesses of the white man’s burden. What can the white man teach in the proud land which gave birth to the likes of Jalaluddin Rumi, when they themselves rush to imbibe from his centuries’ old wisdom in the West even today? But Rumi won’t be taught in the American education system the occupation forces have crafted for the Afghan peoples the same way that Lord Babington Macaulay crafted the English education system for the peoples of the Indian sub-continent in 1835. Different flags, same burden. No white man has ever developed an indigenous peoples except in the self-interest of continuing the colonization. No Afghan can be unaware of this! Oh, we have so much to talk about once the pretenses of bringing “democracy” and “education” are also dropped, just like the other pretense of fighting the war on terror has laudably been dropped…
Professor Zaher sahib, you are also invited to visit my humble website and look over my meager writings if you have an interest in knowing a bit about your interlocutor. My short bio is here. My most recent article is this which I imagine you might find rather revealing if you mentally just replace “Palestine” with “Afghanistan” at the right places while reading it. I understand from your opening comment in your talk that you were exhausted from your journey to Afghanistan and I do not expect a reply immediately. But I do look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
Source URL for this letter: http://print-humanbeingsfirst.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-afghanistan-zaher-wahab.html
Afghanistan: Letter to Professor Zaher Wahab from Zahir Ebrahim