An Afghan woman’s defiant voice.

“Obama is a warmonger, no different from Bush”

After spending two days trying to crack the whip here in Northern Ireland with the distance between our two main parties growing ever further, Gordon Brown is back in London tomorrow to host a summit on Afghanistan. Foreign ministers from all over the world will meet to discuss the ongoing war, the instability, the possibility of success in ending both of these and the horrendous mess that is the military occupation in which many of their own citizens are hopelessly embroiled.

There are general rumblings that it is a fairly pointless exercise, with any prospect of ‘winning’ in the sense that our simple little brains are conditioned to hope for, most likely impossible. Political commentators and military experts alike agree that the Taliban (they’re the baddies, right?) cannot be defeated by military means and the attempts to embed a more democratic Afghan government seem laughable when the conditions enabling Karzai’s recent return to power are considered.

My good friend Phil sent me this link recently to a succinct interview in the New Statesman with prominent women’s rights activist Malalai Joya. I’m fascinated by her scathing response to the idea that US involvement in Afghanistan has brought freedom to the people. She is outspoken, courageous and clearly knows more about the reality of life there than we get to see on our news programming – even the Channel 4 news! I wonder if her critics are justified or if her political lens is too narrow, but most of all she makes me feel like I’m broadening my concept of what’s going on there, especially for women. When faux-feminists like Sarah Palin try to distract from the bloody mess their party has inflicted on that nation by proclaiming that at least women have rights now, it’s grounding to be reminded that this is little more than a cheap trick.

Gordon Brown and Hamid Karzai are on Channel 4 news right now discussing women’s rights as I type. 2 million girls in school apparently and women will have a key place in the new democratic institutions. We’ll see. Perhaps it takes defiant women like Joya to remind the world that corruption and capitalism dressed up as freedom and democracy will never deliver for women.

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