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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted -  11/01/2009  :  06:04
New Year, new topic. If you want to see the old one do a forum search for same title but 2008.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk
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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 13/07/2009 : 22:53
I agree this is nothing personal it is an airing of views,but this needs an answer
" He and his like are exploiting vulnerable peoples fears , for their own ends"

Why do we have vulnerable people who have fears ???
Because they have been let down by Goverment. hence the call to turn more immigrants around at the border.



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
The Artful Bodger
Regular Member


64 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 00:13
Re Afghanistan..

Taleb, as far as I know, means 'student'  (in Arabic or Pashtoo?) but I guess it could also mean 'teacher'. Mullah Omar founded the Taleban from young men raised as Afghan refugees in Pakistan.  There was not much to do in the refugee camps and some presumably well meaning people set up various schools including religous schools.  Unfortunately these folks had little or no training in what they were doing and had only a basic understanding of the religion they were trying to teach.  The Korans they were teaching from were in Arabic which no one understoon being Pashtoons etc,  so they learned the verses by rote and the meanings by what someone thought they meant.  Any wonder it went a bit wonky?

I dont think the US had anything much to do with the establishment of the Taleban though it is quite likely the Pakistani secret services did.


Wind the clock back a bit,  Afghanistan did have a central government and a moderately sucessful society with a king and whatever.  The king left (on a holiday?) and his cousin staged a coupe which was not popular and got replaced by a socialist/communist government which was even less popular.  The Soviets invasion was to support this government, some say they were even invited into Afghanistan though the invitation was not offered until after they arrived!!

The Soviet propped up government had their enemies in various un-connected or loosely connected groups who became the Mudjahadeen and with American support (and likely from others too) they eventually persuaded the Soviets that going home was a good idea.

When the Soviets left there was a total power vacuum and the various groups of the Mudj. set themselves up as local warlords and fought among themselves for control  of the country in a series of wars that went on for several years.


When they were not fighting each other they were supporting themselves by various forms of banditry etc.  It was said that a truck driver going from Iran to Pakistan via Afghanistan would need to pay about 3000 dollars in various tolls on the way and it was quite likely he might arrive at the other end without his load, his truck and sometimes not arrive at all.

It was into this country of wild west lawlessness that Mullah Omar led his band of Talebs escorting a convoy to Kandahah from Pakistan,  what happens next varies according to who is telling the story but it appears the Talebs defeated a local warlord which made the popular with the locals swelling their numbers and going on to clean up other warlords and eventually to take Kabul.  The Taleban introduced a standard toll of 300 dollars to drive across the country.

Those warlords that survived grouped together in the Pansher (sp?) Valley calling themselves the Northern Alliance.

At some stage, someone, and it might have been Betty Ford, made a public issue of the plight of women under the Taleban regime  conveniently ignoring the fact that womens rights were equally abused in all sectors of Afghan society and that the laws of the Taleban regarding women and similar issues were the same as the laws of Saudi Arabia.  The curious, and tragic I think, consequence of this was that the world, led by the US apparently concluded that if the Taleban were 'bad' and if they were fighting the Northern Alliance then of course the Norther Alliance must be 'good'.  So the NA were internationally recogised as the government of Afghanistan even though they held only about 5% of the country and the Taleban government was blocked from almost all international dealings being recognised by only Pakistan and the UAE.


Osama Bin Laden choose Afghanistan as his hiding place and this exclusion of the Taleban from everything suited his purpose exactly.  It is uncertain that the Taleban even welcomed Osama though he did have a claim of sorts having earlier supported the Mudj against the Soviets but whether he took active part in the fighting I am not sure.  Certainly the rank and file Afghans I met in Kabul had little time for the people they called 'The Arabs'.

All the while this was going on sanctions and running down of services gave the Taleban increasing problems in running the country and being the 'students' that they were they turned to the 'manual' to read how it was done.  A manual written 1500 years ago in a language they did not understand.

If you can turn your memory back to the last couple of years of the previous century you may recall some strange actions by the Taleban.  At the time we were told they were getting all their income from the sale of opium, perhaps they were I dont know, but in one year they practically stopped poppy production in an attempt to get international recognition.  They also blew up the statues at Babiyan (sp?) which was a really strange thing to do though I have since read that they were persuaded to do this by OBL for what reason one can only guess.


The US and I think the UK, fired about six dozen cruise missiles into Afghanistan which all missed their target of OBL  but it seems I was the only one not suprised when OBL found a way to strike back  which he did at 911 and just a couple of days before managed to assasinate the leader of the Northern Alliance,  Masood.


911 got things really  stired up and Afghanistan was invaded and the Taleban routed.

There is a fairly strong story that in the early days of the invasion 4000 Taleban prisoners were massacred by the Northern Alliance while foreign 'liberators' looked on.

Eventually a new government was formed with key postions filled by leaders from the Northern Alliance.

So here we are today and what have we learned (in no particular order)

1. The Taleban are not gone.
2. The warlords who destroyed Afghanistan are now in the new government.
3. The Taleban got control of Afghanistan because they were seen as preferable to the warlord regime. (see 2 )
4. The Taleban, except for the older leaders, were not the people who sent the Soviets home, they are from a latter generation.
5. The US did not support  the Taleban against the Soviets, the Taleban was not even formed at the time and most of the  Talebs were infants or not born.



......  this list could be extended to about 20 or more items.




This is my opinion and understanding of the events. I am not an expert on Afghanstan and I may be in error in some parts of this story  but I did spend a bit of time in Kabul during the Taleban era and I have been back since, about six times in total.


You can ride a tiger but getting off is the tricky bit!



Edited by - The Artful Bodger on 14/07/2009 12:29:36 AM


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 07:31
Good informative stuff Bodge. There's no doubt that the Taliban as a groupimg owe as much to events in Pakistan as to CIA interference and mistakes but that doesn't mean you can ignore what the CIA did. Their biggest mistake was dropping Oscar Bin Liner after encouraging him for their own ends. Your last statement is brilliant and encapsulates the whole problem. Hard to let go of the tiger's tail.

I think my basic point holds, any strategy (and it changes so much and so often that bobody is absolutely certain what the present version is) which starts from the attempt to impose western style democracy on such a disparate society is doomed to fail. 

As for Griffin and BNP tactics, of course he exploits people's fears. The point is that these fears are often irrational ones. The problem with all Fascists when they use this tactic is that they sound plausible but on close examination are exploiting often minor problems based on popular myth. Arguing with them is like trying to run in a bog and as soon as they get into trouble they raise another hare. This isn't debate it's propaganda. In every case I have seen the 'cure' they propose is worse than the disease. The other problem of course is that we have to allow people freedom of speech or have a repressive society. It's a no win situation for the good guys and people like Griffin know this. It's very worrying I agree but as I said to a lady the other day, I get to the point where I think it's time I passed the buck on to the young, it's their problem and they are going to have to tackle it in the end. The nice thing is that these freedom fighters are slowly appearing and us crumblies can pass on the baton. If you don't you gradually get more bitter as you see the same mistakes being made over and over again. I'm not going to allow that to happen to me.

Did you watch Newsnight last night? Rational debate amongst intelligent and experienced people baffled by the problem and in some cases looking over their shoulder to their masters. Result, the question left open and unanswered.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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The Artful Bodger
Regular Member


64 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 10:12
Sorry Stanley but I dont know anything about Griffin or the BNP and I dont think I can get Newsnight on my TV!


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belle
VIP Member


6502 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 10:32
I have been reading a book called (if I remember) "The Fight for God" it is by a woman author whose name escapes me. It goes back to the very origins of the three major faiths and explains some of the thinking and the actions behind the situations we now find ourselves in. In all these debates it is usefull to remember that people from different cultures and faiths aren't at all like us, it isn't just that they have a different viewpoint, for generations there have been  Muslim  leaders who have considered the west a real threat, a force that wants to wipe out their heritage, their faith and all they stand for..because when they have encountered us in the past, that is what we have seemed hell bent in doing! Generations have been brainwashed into beliveing that we are a sort of spiritual enemy, and unfortunately we have unwittingly played into their hands. Once someone has a mind set like this it is not possible to reason with them and persuade them of anything else, faced with the threat of what would seem like annhilation of their identitiy, they go on the offensive.
I am not conding terrorism, just trying to illuminate some of the thinking that may be behind it. Problem is we think of everyone as being able to be reasoned with!
It won't have escaped anyone's attention that the assumptions behind  extremeist behaviour (i.e that their idintitiy is in danger) are the same arguments used by the BNP...this in itself must make us consider what our response ought to be.  There doesn't seem any easy answer.


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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 10:55
"..it is usefull to remember that people from different cultures and faiths aren't at all like us.."

You've got to the nub of the problem there Belle, and you can often see it in the way British holidaymakers behave abroad when they offend the locals. The Brits then wonder why they've got thrown in prison or booted out of the country.


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The Artful Bodger
Regular Member


64 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 11:09
Actually Belle I have formed the impression that regardless of culture or religion people are remarkedly similar wherever they live.  Former Eastern Europe,  North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, all countries where I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with 'oridinary' people and their concerns are always the same,  food on the table, roof overhead, education for the children.


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belle
VIP Member


6502 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 11:31
You have travelled far more widely than I have bodger,  I would agree that there are the same needs amongst humanity and we fill them in similar ways, it was ideologies i meant, the british ( and they are diverse within themselves) have certain  ideologies and  behaviours that they assume to be universal, if you have been the product of hundreds of years of "Christendom" you will have a set of givens that is different from those who have not....I feel part of our problem with dealing with those who have not is that we don't see their ideology as valid for them, we feel thye must have ours. They have as little choice in what they absorb from the culture they grew up in, as we do . The English, can appear to be arrogant, ignorant of others cultures, unable to appreciate them, and often dispalying the kind of behaviour  Tiz mentioned above. They are also gullable ... an Argentinian friend of mine says this "you people don't know what you have here in this country..of course everyone is trying to get in..you buy something here and you are dissapointed in it you take it back , you get the money back , and in some cases even the product replaced as well, do you think that happens anywhere else?"


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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 13:28
Bodger like yourself I have travelled quite a bit and  not as a tourist but working alongside the local population and training them at the same time.
I remember one night in Southern Lebanon commissioning a GT Power Station,with shells falling around us we all sat there waiting for it to pass. Just sat in our portacabin  a couple of Shite muslims and a couple of Sunni muslims, a Lebanese christian who mainly spoke French and me the Atheist. What were we were arguing ?? Not religion or the rights or wrongs of each side but about Manchester Untied.
The shells from the Jews would have probably killed us all, with out being selective on race or religion. So maybe we are all the same at the end of the day Dead.



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 16:57
That'll be right Frank. Love Manchester Untied.....


Stanley Challenger Graham




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stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 14/07/2009 : 19:02
Stanley
I worked in the desert in Yemen we used to fly into Sanna then chopper out for 2 hours. Went into the canteen and the first person I saw was a yemen chef with  Man U top on. It really shows the power of a football team.



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 15/07/2009 : 07:08
As government spending cuts bite the question of care for the elderly and pensions rears it's head again. I see the Mail says that thise who have been prudent and saved for old age will resent having to pay for the neer do wells.

It's quite amazing how those lucky enough top afford a private pension lose sight of the millions of people who are in low paid jobs or unemployed who haven't a cat in hell's chance of building up a pension fund, they are hard put to to survive. The majority of these are perfectly worthy people caught in circumastances beyond their control. I worked all my life and never had a pensionable job. In the latter days I managed a small pension fund but tiny. My life is enhanced by the fact that there is a safety net in our society which ensures that I can have a comfortable and dignified retirement doing good works. I do not fear penury and the workhouse. Some would say that this is one of the marks of a civilised society and I would commend to the whingers the thought that it is only their good luck that has allowed them the privilege of a company pension or a healthy retirement fund. They should thank their lucky stars and have some compassion for those worse off then themselves through no fault of their own.

I agree that our welfare system needs a complete overhaul, this is inevitable but it will be wrong to use this review to find savings. Cost-cutting should be directed at the areas we all know need review, crazy IT contracts, massive databases for ID cards etc. Trident, a totally useless weapon. Tax avoidance. Obscene profits from gambling in securities. All these things are paid for by the tax-payer and should be pruned ruthlessly.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 15/07/2009 : 10:08
I have a small personal pension, bought from M&S Finance Services, which I started about 14 years ago when I became self-employed. After a few years I stopped paying into it because it wasn't making any money for me, just profits for M&S. I got the latest statement last week and it's value had gone down by 18% in the last year alone. Luckily I have some company pension from earlier days, but not as much as many people - the time spent doing university degrees then postdoctoral work didn't provide any pension. On the other hand it gave me better earning power later. Swings and roundabouts. I used some of my pension pot early in life to help buy a flat when I got married - probably a bad decision, it would have been better to keep it as pension. I hope youngsters get better education on pensions these days!


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belle
VIP Member


6502 Posts
Posted - 15/07/2009 : 12:21
The book was "The Battle for God" and the author Karen Armstrong. A very informative book re the development of the three major faiths and the ongoig struggles between them form antiquity to now.


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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 15/07/2009 : 12:55
Balance Stanley !!!  At what level do you define people being better off. I think that is the issue with regards to pensions.
In a lot of cases people have been happy to stick in a rut, and never looked at pensions.  Others have climbed on the tread mill and saved hard for later life. Who was right who was wrong ??
The welfare system does need a radical overhaul. I get £250 heating allowance I don't really need it, nor does a lot of other people. I know someone on £180000 per year who collects child benefit.,someone else on £90000 with a bus pass !!!!!
If it is to be fair it needs testing somehow or another, now that is a difficulty



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
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