An Alternative Approach to Afghanistan


The military and civilian forces of the United States should leave Afghanistan. The American government has morally and politically disqualified itself from involvement in Afghanistan (and every other place in the world). This freaked out and dark minded killing machine has no business in the affairs of other people. During the past sixty years everything touched by Zionist America has turned to dust–division and instability—from Korea to Palestine to Iran to Vietnam to Middle America to Afghanistan to Iraq. It should retreat and attend to its own declining institutions and decayed infrastructure.

Afghanistan is virtually a black hole and a Bermuda Triangle. Existing packages of knowledge about the country are poorly produced and lack academic integrity. There is an urgent need for systematic and properly produced ethnographic knowledge about the cultural communities and relations of power in Afghanistan. The American obsession with “quick fix” has invited and encouraged the application of defective and anecdotal information. We need to step back and slow down and take a systematic, studied, serious, and sincere look at the cultural, political, and structural rubble of Afghanistan caused by the United States.

Afghanistan should be placed in an international receivership or mandate. No more charades, scams, and hurried pretensions about “president”, “political parties, “elections”, etc. This receivership should be coordinated by an internationally selected National Reconstruction Council of a dozen prominent international social scientists specializing in the anthropology and history of the Middle East, Central and South Asia. The Afghan NRC should be provided with an international diplomatic machinery and necessary material resources with which to create a multinational security force (about 150,000 strong, under a provisional green and white flag) consisting of contributions from the Muslim states only—especially Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, and Turkey. This force would replace the NATO military presence in Afghanistan. The NRC would install a civil and military bureaucracy and concentrate on the installation of educational and security institutions and communication and economic infrastructure.

In the earliest phase of this process we should gradually and systematically produce and coordinate appropriate ethnographic and political knowledge about Afghanistan through original research and from the existing pools of anthropological ethnographies of Afghanistan and the surrounding region. A small consortium of anthropologists (Western and local, selected by AAA and RAI but excluding those American anthropologists who have already collaborated with the American occupational machinery in Afghanistan) of the Middle East should overlook the production of this knowledge.

This international receivership would probably take three K-12 cycles or about forty years by which time Afghanistan would be better prepared to stand on its own political, economic, and security feet. The United States, the European Union, the oil rich Arab states, China, and Russia should underwrite the cost of this rehabilitation and reconstruction program. The United States should absorb the bulk of the cost of the international receivership of Afghanistan. During this receivership the seat of Afghanistan in the United Nations should be suspended.

17 thoughts on “An Alternative Approach to Afghanistan

  1. John Allison

    Finally, a Program for real change in Afghanistan; developed by an Afghan..
    I can’t decide whether it is better to get this well-thought-out and integrated set of guidelines to Obama right away, or keep it secret from him.
    This is what is needed; but to whom to take it?
    Thanks for your guidance, Jamil.

  2. brian

    You want the funding to come from countries that will have no say in how that money is spent? How is that not as immoral as the current situation?
    And I would argue that at least half of Korea is in pretty good shape thanks to American intervention, while the other half is in pretty bad shape thanks to Russian intervention.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Half of Korea is in pretty good shape thanks to the struggles and efforts of Koreans themselves, who had to fight to liberate themselves from U.S. supported dictatorships. The other half of Korea is in bad shape thanks to American intervention, and a war that has never been formally concluded.

  3. Michael Ricks

    Check out for an insight into Afghan realities from the women who have been fighting for Afghan rights since the Soviets invaded. No one came claim to represent Afghan interests without listening to this strong and consistent anti-fundamentalist, anti- imperialist group. RAWA runs refugee centres, medical clinics, orphanages and educational programs. As usual, while the men play politics these women are busy providing real services to the people of Afghanistan.

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  5. M. Jamil Hanifi

    The United States and its European and Saudi Arabian allies are responsible for the destruction of the state apparatus of Afghanistan. What is “immoral” for holding them responsible for underwriting the cost of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of what they have destroyed? Why should they be allowed to continue their immoral, bloody and destructive policies and operations in Afghanistan?

    However we slice the predicament of Korea, its political and cultural wound—its division and disunity—is caused by the United States.

    Yes, organizations like RAWA could be a major resource for the Afghan NRC provided Western standards of “human rights”—nightmares of Eleanor Roosevelt—do not become the standards for social justice and equality for the people of Afghanistan.

  6. catholicgauze

    So Afghanistan should become a colony and all local government/people empowerment should be stripped. Sounds like an imperialism of outsiders. I’m sure the Pashtuns would love to see Iranian peacekeepers and I’m sure the Hazaras would love their fellow Muslims from Pakistan also helping out.

    Why should China pay? They haven’t had a real dog in this fight.

    “Zionist America”? Great way dragging “the Jews” into this.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Those are good questions. I am not sure that any solution imposed by a panel of experts will meet with any kind of approval. Solutions should come from the bottom up. As for forcing foreign peacekeepers on populations that neither want them, nor relate to them, then yes it would seem like another intervention. I also had the same question about China–it does have a mining operation in Afghanistan, and does share a tiny border with the country, and of course helps to finance the U.S., but it has not been, from what we know, directly involved in shaping events on the ground and its intervention would likely not be welcome either. Even less connected: Israel. I don’t see how the American political elites’ defense of Israel has anything to do with Afghanistan–if it does, show it, don’t just assert it. I have no idea right now how “Zionism” has any bearing whatsoever on NATO’s desire to save face and defend its interest as an organization. One reader here sees possible antisemitism, and surely some of the most counterproductive expressions of anti-Zionism have taken that form; at the very least, one ought to worry about a reductionism that boils every American action down to a Zionist conspiracy, as if everything that can be understood is to be understood by reference to Zionism (and which Zionism anyway?).

  7. M. Jamil Hanifi

    I have proposed that Afghanistan become an international receivership—a short term dependency—not a “colony”. The building of the economic and political infrastructure of Afghanistan by its NRC will not dismantle but maintain local production and government operations. Westerners should keep to themselves their imaginings of “people empowerment” and other yuppie delusional distortions of the realities of social life. The outcome of the receivership will be an Afghanistan that is able to stand on its own two feet not “imperialism”—capitalism winged by American militarism.

    Throughout history the Hazaras, Iranians, Pakistanis, and Paxtuns have gotten along relatively well. The existing divisions and tensions are caused by the disruptive, divisive, and culturally defiling presence of Euro-America. Zionized America! Get out of Afghanistan. You are not welcome. Leave the Afghans alone. You have no business in their lives. You have ruined their modest state infrastructure. You have committed crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. For this history will smear your face with dishonor and shame.

    For all practical purposes the United States of America is the United States of Israel. Please read my post “The holy mother of Israel” on ZA. Zionism is the operator of the state apparatus of America. If this means “dragging ‘the Jews’ into this”, so be it. Some Christian fundamentalists and other Muslim-haters are just as instrumental in the construction of zionized America.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      “Some Christian fundamentalists and other Muslim-haters are just as instrumental in the construction of zionized America”

      OK, Jamil, but let us please not take the absurd spewings of lunatics and racists as our base reference point for constructing our own analyses. You still have not explained what “Jews” have to do with Afghanistan, especially as there are probably more American Jews who are vigorously opposing and denouncing this war, than not. Has AIPAC said anything about Afghanistan, have they lobbied for more funds to fight in Afghanistan? How many actual Zionists have said anything about Afghanistan, to the extent that we can make such generalizations as you have here?

      As I said in my revised comment above, I am seriously worried about a reductionism that takes everything down to some essential Zionist conspiracy. Chomsky can’t even say “boycott America” without some launching into diatribes about “Aha! You see that? There’s that secret Zionist come to the surface! He didn’t say boycott Israel, so this proves it!”

  8. M. Jamil Hanifi

    Not a single major Jewish organization including AIPAC has opposed the war in Afghanistan. Not a single Jewish member of the US House of Representatives and the Senate has opposed this criminal war. They have all support existing American policies and operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A disproportionately large numbers of critical locations in the staffs of the members of US Congress are connected to AIPAC (See Walt and Mearsheimer, The Israeli Lobby, 2006). A disproportionally high number of very potent locations of power in the political and civil society of the United States are occupied by Jews most of whom are Zionists. This is an empirical fact. I derive from it a relationship between Zionism and the Jewish identity of those who occupy a disproportionately large number of very powerful positions in the state apparatus of the United States. Take for example Ben Bernanke, Carl Levin, David Axelrod, Rohm Emanuel, Joseph Lieberman, Frank Lautenberg, Peter King, Alan Dershowitz, Dianne Feinstein, David Horowitz, Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer. Is anyone of these powerful individuals against the war in Afghanistan? My reading makes most of these Jews Zionists. Obviously there are some Jews like Norman Finkelstein and Stephen Cohen who are openly against American imperialism and Israeli expansion. But their numbers are quite small.

    MOSAD is actively involved in the organization and operations of the intelligence machinery of Afghanistan. The United States and Israel are jointly using Afghanistan and Iraq as human laboratories for testing new cyber weapon systems. Israel receives more than three billion dollars in military aid annually from the American government. Every year another five to six billion dollars leave the United States for Israel. What is the source of these dollars?

    These are empirical, not political, observations. We will let the audience decide whether and how we can generalize from these stark realities about the relationship of Jews to Zionism and the role of these ethnic and ideological forces in the zionization of America. You and I disagree about the sources of the zionization of America. I attribute this largely to powerful Jews and Jewish political organizations.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Jamil, those are important facts. But then the question arises: is everything those individuals support an expression of Zionism? What are the victories and rewards for “the Zionist cause” to be reaped from Afghanistan, and concretely do we have any evidence to substantiate an interest and focus on Afghanistan? Or is this a more general and indirect set of interests, that if NATO loses face, the Western alliance that backs Israel will be seen as weaker by those who are enemies both of Israel and that alliance? I wonder, given that neither Al Qaeda nor the Taleban have ever directed their energies at any Israeli target.

      Not to elevate this to a polemic, but while I generally agree with your list of names, they are not by any means representative of a majority of Jewish American opinion. It’s not just Finkelstein, Cohen, etc., but a huge mass of radical students and anti-war activists, among whom are many secular Jewish Americans. Indeed, I even know self-declared Zionist students at Concordia, including a couple of Israelis, who are devout anti-imperialists–some might protest that there is a contradiction there, and there might be, but it leads me to believe that “Zionism” is not singular and monolithic, that it never has been, and is not even necessarily Jewish (Rastafarians as Zionists, for example).

      Anyway, unless we can get to some concrete evidence showing us how Zionists are invested in Afghanistan, and that actual Israeli weapons manufacturers (name them, and name the weapons systems) are actually involved, then let’s not whitewash the primacy of American agency here, as if Americans were these gullible innocents being cynically manipulated by some superhuman MOSSAD with limitless powers.

      All of this aside, I do remain extremely skeptical of the solution of foreign “peacekeepers” (which peace?), panels of academic expert elites, and Afghanistan turned into another neo-colony like Haiti, a protectorate run by foreign masters.

  9. Catholicgauze

    Mr. Hanifi,
    I concur with Max, you are taking your hatred of Israel way too far in this. Israel doesn’t care about Afghanistan, sure they don’t want a Jihadist country that would support targeting them, but other than that the “Zionists” do not care. This whole “United States of Israel” thing will turn people off because it is an aimless rant. I remember when it was reactionary nuts in Idaho who were talking about the Jewish takeover of American and the “Zionist Occupational Government.”

    As for your points. There was a balance in Afghan society, yes, but it was a raciest case system. Pashtuns tolerated Hazaras as long as the Hazaras stayed on the bottom, did the crap work, and remained poor. The situation was much like Blacks and Whites in the post-Civil War South. Parallel systems that left each other alone as long as the Blacks didn’t get “uppity.” Now the old system has gone. You would see serious problems with Pakistanis tried “peacekeeping” in the Hazara mountainous region. Could you imagine what would happen if Uzbeks in Helmand?

    What would the model for Afghanistan be that the social scientists would aim for? Also, what would the Muslim nations fight for (they would need a goal to send their young off to die). I doubt national socialist Egypt would be a good nation-builder in Afghanistan nor would Pakistan, Iran, or many of the other Muslim nations and members who should be the brains of the NRC. Do we want another reactionary fundamentalist Saudi Arabia? Another broken Yemen? Another autocratic Tunisia? It sounds like a bunch of social scientists playing laboratory on the Afghan people. That didn’t work in the early Soviet Union and a bunch of neoconservative academics didn’t work for Bush in Iraq.

    You write about the NRC “[it] would install a civil and military bureaucracy and concentrate on the installation of educational and security institutions and communication and economic infrastructure.” So you have an outside force making an entirely new socio-political system. That’s colonialism. Tell me how that’s any different from the Coalition Provisional Authority (at least that had Iraqis on the main governing board) trying to remake Iraq’s political landscape or trying to get tribal Afghans in an elder system to switch to democracy?

    Finally, this sort of model has been tried. The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia showed how exiled academics don’t know how to run a country. Plus, the international mission of African peacekeepers has shown how good intentions do not make good peacekeepers. If the United States and other modern military allies cannot quell the Taliban insurgency how are Muslim soldiers who fight with 1970s Soviet export technology going to? Pakistan has enough trouble as is with their own Taliban.

    I have no doubt that you only want the best for your fellow Afghans. However, the strange rants against Israel, Zionists, and Jews plus an advocacy of “social scientific imperialism” with a strange support of Muslim occupational army is not the answer.

    I understand you were offering an alternative approach and not a concert plan. Here’s my personal advice for those interested in helping Afghanistan. Help. Offer money, aid, academic research support to the groups on the ground. If one could even write a paper and change military tactics for the better that would be fantastic. There is no silver bullet out there but one can still make a difference.

  10. catholicgauze

    That’s an interesting series of random facts. Here’s some more: no major Catholic poitican, organization, Catholic Vice-President Biden, or the Pope have called for withdrawl from Afghanistan. Sy Hersh must be right! Afghanistan is a Catolic consipracy. Or, no major Hispanic politican or group has called for withdrawl. Must be those Mexicans at it again!

    Here is the truth: you shown yourself to be anti-Semitic and have an anti-Semitic geopolitical view. What’s the difference between you and Henry Ford, the answer is not much.

    It is sad and a shame that anthropologist allow this anti-Semitic talk to be spread. If someone had written a post about the Islamist takeover of America or a Black Socialist Obama is redoing policy to screw over White people on this blog the author would be booed off. Sadly, the Jews seem to be fair game.

    I am personally done with all this here. How things change how things stay the same.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Unfortunately you did make one serious mistake–Joe Biden may be a Catholic, but he is also a self-declared Zionist: “I am a Zionist….You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist”–watch:

      Given Biden’s remark, Jamil has some good points that deserve to be considered, and he should perhaps give greater care to how he writes his anti-Zionism. It’s not the first time that this has been made into an issue on this site, and I hope Jamil takes note especially if he believes he is being misunderstood.

  11. M. Jamil Hanifi

    These are my parting words on this subject on this blog.

    I reject the racist theocracy of Zionist Israel and its supporters everywhere including the United States. I also reject all the authoritarian regimes in the Arab states of the Middles East and their supporters everywhere including the United States. Israel and these Arab countries are home to tens of millions of Semitic people. They all speak Semitic languages. In Euro-America my rejection of Semitic Arabs makes me an anti-Arab. But my rejection of Israel makes me an “anti-Semite”, a violator of a sacred prohibition. And you can see I am trying to avoid saying “J–” or “J–ish”. An anthropologist will ask what is going on here, what “taboo” is being violated here. A reading of Durkheim and Levi-Strauss on Taboo will provide the answer. It seems to me that this ideologically driven and tactfully constructed taboo fuels some of the thinking in these exchanges. If that is the case, please consider me a happy wearer of this crafty label designed to shield fascist Israel and all its ….ish and non….ish supporters in the United States including AIPAC, Biden, Emanuel, Lieberman, Obama, Palin, and Schumer. I too know many ordinary Jews who reject fascist Israel and zionized America. But their influence pales compared to the power of the zionized American state apparatus and the locations of power within it occupied by Zionist institutions, networks, and individuals some of whom are identified in these exchanges.

    I will address the participation of MOSSAD in the occupation of Afghanistan by Euro-America and the joint American-Israeli use of Afghanistan as a human laboratory for the testing of cyber weapons in the future at a different location.

  12. Maximilian Forte

    While I clearly do not engage in censoring articles before they are published on this site, I do welcome the fact, Jamil, that you will be choosing a different location for any articles about “the participation of MOSSAD in the occupation of Afghanistan by Euro-America and the joint American-Israeli use of Afghanistan as a human laboratory for the testing of cyber weapons.”

    The reason why is that, after the tens of thousands of military intelligence documents and cables released by Wikileaks dealing with the Afghan war, we can plainly see that Israel is not even mentioned once, nor is there any evidence whatsoever of any Israeli involvement, nor have any members of the Afghan resistance made an issue of Israel.

    I do think this is conspiracy theory, in the pejorative sense, and it is–as we clearly see here–entirely counterproductive and a major distraction. Rather than talk about Afghans, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, we are talking about some undocumented, never before observed, unspoken, unsubstantiated Mossad adventure, which clearly moves invisibly, leaving no trace. Really, I find this to be entirely objectionable, and not even slightly credible. It also reminds me of how Saudi and Gulf state elites use Israel as a distraction to preserve the status quo and continued support for, and reliance on, American empire. Now that’s not a conspiracy theory, and has been amply documented.

    While I do not practice censorship, I also would not like to see ZA being used for such distractions and cover ups, along with ethnic scapegoating, and talk about “infestation” that would make Himmler blush with approval. Good of you Jamil, to share our same concerns in choosing to publish elsewhere. In the meantime, my appreciation of your earlier articles–with the major exception of “Holy Mother of Israel,” which was almost tragic–remains generally undiminished.

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