Guy Rundle’s support for “righteous killing”

Taliban beating women

Taliban beating women

Browsing today’s edition of Crikey just now I came across a little piece from Guy Rundle on Afghanistan.   This paragraph stood out:

The plain fact is that any eight year war in a foreign land has become a war against the people, a little Vietnam. Guerrilla insurgency is about moving like a fish in the water of the wider populace — thus obliging the occupying power to drain the pond (or, in the words of one of Melbourne’s addled pro-war Maoists — burnouts getting their jaded jollies from righteous killing, as usual — “draining the swamps where terror breeds”).

He’s clearly referring to an article by me which was published in The Australian, back in 2006: Drain the Swamps where Terror Breeds. (It’s sort of nice to know that he still feels irritated by it….)

Interestingly Rundle is on the record with an appalling call for a bloodbath in Iraq. These are his words just before the war began  in 2003:

`…it may be best in the long run if  Baghdad . . . resists and there is a slaughter of some duration”

(I remember it from the time,  and although I couldn’t find the original article in which he said it, a bit of googling turned up the quote above, on several websites …. my memory is that somewhere he actually used the word “bloodbath’ and suggested that this would be a good thing because it would increase hostility to the US around the world).

Naturally he thinks that the people of Afghanistan should be left at the mercy of the Taliban, just as the Iraqi people would have been better off left to deal with Saddam by themselves.  The attempt to draw an  analogy  between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the struggle by the people of Vietnam against US imperialism ……. (the  Taliban is “like a fish in the water of the wider populace”) is actually quite sickening.

It seems to me that it’s Rundle who enjoys  ‘righteous killing’, provided it’s by the darkest of religious zealots and  done in the name of fighting US imperialism

Public execution of a woman by the Taliban

Public execution of a woman by the Taliban

The problem in Afghanistan is the the US didn’t do what it did in Iraq.  Instead it has simply supported one bunch of warlords against the others.  That’s no way to drain the swamps.   I have some hope that Obama realises this and is about to change direction, but it’s not clear to me yet.

25 Responses to “Guy Rundle’s support for “righteous killing””

  1. 1 jim sharp

    O dear!
    what goes around come s around betwixt a ‘genuine!” & “a pseudo leftie”

    or, in the words of one of Melbourne’s addled pro-war Maoists — burnouts getting their jaded jollies from righteous killing, as usual — “draining the swamps where terror breeds”).

  2. 2 Arthur

    There’s been quite flurry of media commentary pushing for defeat in Afghanistan based on comparisons with Vietnam. It’s basically the same right wing line as on Iraq but interestingly they are still forced to use Vietnam for the argument since pointing towards the more recent experience of Iraq doesn’t quite work out.

    The US did follow the standard prescriptions of the foreign policy establishment in Afghanistan. Forced to overthrow their previous allies the Taliban, they relied on local warlords with a very limited objective of preventing Afghanistan from being used to launch terrorist attacks on the US and elsewhere.

    Unlike the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” lies about the limited war aim in Iraq, they weren’t lying about having such limited war aims in Afghanistan. They simply weren’t interested in revolutionary upheaval in that remote and unstrategic part of the world and did not have the resources to spare while concentrating on the main game of destabilizing their previous allies throughout the middle east.

    The results so far are the sort of pointless war that would have resulted in Iraq if they had not made the “blunder” of ignoring all “sound” advice from the foreign policy establishment and completely smashing the old Baathist order, thus unleashing real social change towards a democratic revolution sweeping the region.

    Its hard to tell what they are up to now. Verbally the Obama administration keeps emphasizing even more strongly that the only US interest in Afghanistan is to prevent its use as a terrorist base. But that hasn’t worked as more than a holding operation.

    Turning from words to deeds, they have started a substantial escalation of troop levels, and are now treating Afghanistan and Pakistan together. As usual, words and deeds don’t match but it’s hard to tell what’s coming.

    One promising sign is the complete undermining of the current warlord alliance by the rigged elections. On the surface this looks like a variant of the same by putting northern alliance warlords in a stronger position relative to Karzai.

    But that obviously won’t do much to mobilize the southern Pushtoons against the Taliban since the northern warlords have less support among the people there than Karzai.

    So something more interesting may emerge as the resources become available for relying less on warlords. I suspect it won’t be clear for a while because there’s not much chance of openly speaking about siding with the people against the tyrants after all the efforts the right and pseudoleft have put into discrediting such “destabilization”.

    Nevertheless its the only way the war can be won. As Churchill is supposed to have said, you can rely on the Americans to do the right thing, after exhausting all other alternatives.

  3. 3 Dalec

    The question I ask is, who is the enemy in this “war that can be won”?

    The terrorists? Terror ? The Taliban? The people of Afghanistan who are routinely murdered from the air by rockets and bombs at funerals and weddings? The citizens of Afghanistan who are arrested and tortured by US mercenaries and CIA thugs? The warlords ? The opium growers who are incinerated by napalm? The terrorists who flit between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    Karzi is our man in Afghanistan, corrupt, incompetent and a traitor to his people.

    Do you really think the people of Afghanistan are going to rise-up and support the US “surge”?

    I can sell you a 30% share in the Sydney harbour bridge if you like.


  4. 4 Arthur

    The well known enemy in Afghanistan is the Taliban allied with Al Queda. Unacknowledged enemies are the jihadi warlords and corrupt and incompetent tyrants generally.

    No I don’t think the people of Afghanistan are going to rise up and support the US surge. However I am at least hopeful that the US surge will create conditions enabling a break with some of the worst of the corrupt and incompetent warlords that will then make it more feasible for the people to rise up against their and our enemies.

    Naturally Dalek, like Guy Rundle hopes that Afghanistan will continue in misery so he can make passionate declarations against the US. Those hopes are not as absurd as their similar stance on Iraq since the fate of Afghanistan just isn’t as important to the US or the rest of the world as Iraq was. Nevertheless the increasing involvement of Pakistan makes it less and less likely that the US can continue to afford the bankrupt policies of its foreign policy establishment. So I expect Dalek, Guy Rundle and other advocates of misery for Afghanistan will ultimately be disappointed. It will take longer than for Iraq though and we can expect to here lot’s more of their “humanitarian concern” upholding an unsustainable status quo.

  5. 5 Dalec

    Arthur, Let’s be sure I understand this.
    The way to end the misery in Afghanistan is to invade the place, kill and alienate as many people as possible, destroy whatever infrastructre existed and install a acorrupt and venal President.

    Is that the case ?


  6. 6 Arthur

    Dalek, before your brain seizure you might remember that until the end of 1979 Afghanistan was dealing with its own problems, no worse than other countries in that abysmal part of the world. Then it got devastated by a Soviet invasion and an in islamist warlord insurgency backed by the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as a result of contention between the two superpowers for strategic influence.

    This rallied jihadis from around the world to establish “The Base”, now known as Al Queda.

    When the Soviets gave up on killing and alienating as many as possible, the misery did NOT end. The US lost interest since they had no interests in Afghanistan other than helping the Soviets come unstuck, and Kabul was destroyed by the competing “victorious” warlords and other jihadis.

    Eventually Pakistan supported the Taliban to displace the warlords and the world got back to ignoring the ongoing misery in Afghanistan. Then at the end of 2001 when the US sent about 400 special forces and CIA agents (plus airpower) to support the northern alliance warlords taking control of Kabul, because the Taliban had enabled Al Queda to use Afghanistan as a base for a spectacularly successful attack on New York.

    You haven’t said it would have been a good idea to let Al Queda continue using Afghanistan as a base. Perhaps that is your position, but you haven’t said it. Nor have you suggested some other means of preventing them doing so.

    The US and NATO were not interested in ending the misery in Afghanistan but only in preventing further terrorist attacks, so they put in the minimum resources necessary to overthrow the Taliban relying on the warlords, while keeping the warlords under some degree of supervision so there would be less general rape and pillage than last time they were in charge and some development could proceed.

    The misery won’t end without a major social change in Afghanistan. The result of pulling out is not speculative but KNOWN from previous experience – the Taliban and warlords would continue to tear the place apart with no opening for the people.

    Since they don’t care much about the misery it is entirely possible they will just keep on trying to prop up the present venal and corrupt warlord government. But the costs of that “strategy” are naturally growing with more and more troops required.

    Those troops are NOT fighting the Afghan people. If they were, you (and for that matter we) would have no difficulty organizing a mass movement to stop them. Instead you are left proclaiming your heroic intentions while knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do because you KNOW you are wrong. But you just have to keep bleating anti-war slogans from before your brain seized up.

    Since you care even less about the misery, you favour them simply pulling out and engage in propaganda as though they rather than the Taliban and warlords are the source of the misery. Fortunately that isn’t really an option for the US and NATO because of the obvious consequences of a worldwide boost to jihadi terrorism (especially in Pakistan).

    So you will keep bleating about your humanitarian concern for the Afghans while they will keep on fighting, however ineptly, against the worst of the local Daleks.

    Eventually I think they will have no option but to side with the Afghan people against ALL the local Daleks. Only then will the misery end.

  7. 7 Dalec

    Arthur – no one is ever going to accuse you of humanitarian concern. Your support for the Pol Pot regime and your more recent exultation over the Falluja massacre testify to this.

    I must admit that you do the excuse for Imperial adventurism thing very well. It suggests that you have read deeply of the apologists for the Imperial adventures of antiquity and recent history.

    If you really believe that Imperial intervention is necessary for the betterment of the lives of the people why do you not call for the invasion of Iran, north Korea, Myanmar, Fiji etc.
    (Cuba as well???).
    It’s a long list Arthur.
    Please stop posturing about your concern for humanity and admit that the decisions by the dominant Imperial power on which country to invade and occupy are made purely on strategic and ideological grounds, just as they have been for thousands of years.

    Also please don’t run that line that this is part of a war against terrorists, you know and I know that the real danger from terrorists comes from middle class, well educated disaffected intellectuals in the more developed countries. Did the 9/11 bombers come from Iraq or Afghanistan ? No they came from the educated elite of Saudi.
    It was not run from some cave on the border of Afghanistan Arthur.

    The “draining the swamps” line is just a pathetic bullshit metaphor and you know it.

    The terrorist of today feed upon the Imperial plunder, rape and violence that you so avidly support. Every time the US sends missiles into a wedding party the Terrorists and Jihadists win. They use these events to justify their acts. Every time the CIA arrests and tortures an innocent kid they reinforce the Taliban It is a vicious circle that cannot be broken by more of the same. In Iraq Abu Grhaib was a massive win for the Jihadis, boy did you guys fall over yourselves disassociating yourselves from that one. Just a few “bad apples” eh?

    The truly sad irony is that the Afghani people are probably the most hospitable and welcoming people on the face of the earth. However they do not take kindly to invaders, they have a thousands of year old tradition of welcoming strangers who come in peace and unrelenting opposition to invading forces. Historically they have always defeated the invaders.
    The people see the “International” forces as Invaders and fight them at every opportunity. They welcome and protect those “aid” workers who come to help.
    The Taliban will never be defeated by military means, even some of the US generals admit this. They will be defeated by a rising standard of living, literacy and education in general. They will be defeated by the people of Afghanistan, a country where every man owns gun and knows how to use it.
    By invading the place you simply divert the people from dealing with the real enemy, the Taliban religious extremists.

    You and your ilk are objectively the number one supporters of extremism, jihadism and terrorism all over the globe.

  8. 8 Steve Owens

    Arthur you say that the US was “Forced to overthrow their previous allies the Taliban,…” but were they?
    Afghanistan had a civil war that was on hold. The Taliban held most of the country but it couldn’t eradicate the warlord alliance known as the Northern Alliance. What the US did was to reactivate the civil war by weighing in on the side of the Northern Alliance but were they “forced” to do this?
    The US had been attacked by Al Qaeda, reactivating the civil war only led to Al Qaeda slipping across the border into the safety of Pakistan. Sure they lost their “bases” and I’m sure that they miss those old mud huts but really they probably lost little. Terrorist attacks linked to Al Qaeda usually don’t originate from these bases and after Clinton lobed a few cruise missiles into them I’m sure that they didn’t house the leadership.
    So what has the US gained? Well its moved Al Qaeda several hundred miles East at the cost of becoming involved in the Afghani civil war.
    Is there a way out? I don’t know. Is Afghanistan the “good war”? probably no more than Iraq was the “smart war”

  9. 9 Arthur

    “Forced” in the VERY obvious sense that the US had previously followed the policy of leaving Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban and would have just LOVED to continue doing so (and lobbing cruise missiles from afar like Clinton) as advocated by Dalek and you.

    But even the dumbest US imperialists could figure out their previous policy had not quite worked out after 9/11. Of course the dumbest believed, and still believe that the problem could be dealt with by just chasing Al Queda out of Afghanistan. But that could not possibly work either so they had to go for policies that would undermine their whole post-war “achievement” of propping up tyrannies (that breed) terrorism in the middle east.

    That didn’t make Afghanistan a high priority. It still doesn’t. But its been neglected for long enough that they are going to have to do more than the previous holding operation – and that ultimately requires siding with the Afghan people against the warlords as well as the Taliban.

  10. 10 Steve Owens

    Arthur you are right if my ideas had been followed war would not have been waged in Afghanistan and the Taliban would probably still be in power.
    Why I still think I’m right is about probable outcomes.
    The myth of the Cuban revolution was that a small group of revolutionaries could inject themselves into the country and lead a democratic/socialist revolution.
    Che took this myth seriously and together with a few friends injected himself into Africa where he was rescued and then Bolivia where he wasn’t.
    Now my point is that although I support democratic/socialist revolution in both Africa and Bolivia I think Che’s plan was crap and so did the Bolivians as evidenced by the fact that not one Bolivian joined this madcap plan.
    The probable outcome of Che’s plans were failure so although we may well support the aims we must stand aside and shake our heads.
    So it is with Afghanistan. Although I may well wish to see the Taliban gone if the alternative is the Northern Alliance then again the probable outcome is not worth our support. Just remember the Northern Alliance when it was in power last time the allegations of pedophilia, mass murder,random terror to the population plus drug dealing. This time in power they have held on to much of the Taliban’s religious oppression.
    The probable outcome was always that the Western powers would tire of Afghanistan and leave at the earliest opportunity as many of them are preparing to do.
    When war was suggested I thought that the probable outcome would be a disaster for the people of Afghanistan my question to you is what did you think the probable outcome would be?

  11. 11 Dalec

    The US plan seems to be to unite Afghanistan and Pakistan in the same way they have united Iraq and Iran.

    They destroyed the Baathists and Saddam for the benefit of the Iranian clerical fascists and opened the way for the emergence of a greater Persia. Even if it never gets to be a formal political union the economic ties grow stronger every day.
    To counter this US does have the option in Iraq of the establishment of an Iraqi police state with closed borders and total dependency upon the US. This would require that they bring the occupation forces out of the bases and put them back on the streets. Even the most sycophantic would find the defence of this course of action difficult.

    Afghanistan is country that is totally undeveloped compared with Iraq, the US tactics of shock awe and the US tactics of systematic brutal terrorising of the urban civilian population will not work in Afghanistan.

    It’s one thing to send a bunch of redneck racist US goons into a suburb of Baghdad to rape torture and kill the residents (“sand niggers”), it is an entirely different thing to send them into a remote village where there is escape and where there is a centuries old tradition of violent opposition to these activities.


  12. 12 Arthur


    1. I was never attracted to the romantic myths of Che. I doubt that any of the substantial army of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are either…

    2. To answer your question, I did not have a view on the probable outcome at the time of the invasion of Afghanistan and consequently took no public position – unlike my enthusiastic advocacy of invading Iraq where it actually mattered what people thought about it. Was still studying the issues and trying to figure out what alternatives RAWA was proposing (still haven’t figured that out and still also find their rejection of the present strategy relevant).

    3. I don’t think the US has the option of pulling out, whatever public opinion thinks and whatever other countries do. This seems obvious in view of worldwide significance of a victory for jihadi terrorists. Consequently while things have been disasterous for the Afghan people for decades now, and may continue to be for a while, I am confident that eventually there HAS to be a change in course towards siding with the people and winning rather than relying on warlords in a holding operation.

    4. Of course if, like you, I advocated pulling out, I would be as certain as you are that it would be a disaster for the Afghan (and Pakistani) people, not to mention other prospective victims of energized jihadi terrorism throughout the world. Perhaps you would feel better about it if you could join Guy Rundle in a candlelight procession of “solidarity” with the victims and console yourself with the thought that it would be a serious blow for US imperialism.

    PS I notice that Dalek appears to have noticed that his previous expectations of either a US puppet regime or a “victory for the resistance” are now beyond ridicule. Now he wants us to ridicule his expectations of a Greater Persia! Who says Dalek’s cannot evolve?

  13. 13 Steve Owens

    Arthur, I have never advocated that troops should be pull out of Afghanistan. You say I have, so please provide some evidence. Since landing in Afghanistan I have argued that foriegn troops should protect the people and that withdrawing would be a distater.
    Please argue your case with out misrepresenting mine.

  14. 14 Lin Bao Wow

    it would show some basic honesty keza, if you noted that rundle began the original age article you quote from (during the iraq war of 2003), by noting that “the most humane result now would be a rapid american victory”.

    I’m sure that the afghan war will deliver for you the same bloodbath that will make your jaded politics meaningful once more.

  15. 15 Dalec

    Perhaps you should read this, comment on the CONTENT not the source and then get back to me about the benign US Imperial war machine that you so avidly support.


  16. 16 Arthur

    Why would anyone bother to get back to you or comment on a content free article? Its not intended as analysis or to provoke comment. Its simply a sermon for circulation among the like minded to foster some sense of comfort in the thought that even though they simply find the world bewildering they are at least together in their bewilderment.

  17. 17 Dalec

    Even the military brass have come to realise an uncomnfortable truth about Afghanistan.
    General McChrystal said
    “We must do things dramatically differently – even uncomfortably differently – to change how we operate, and also how we think.

    “Our strategy cannot be focused on seizing terrain or destroying insurgent forces; our objective must be the population.”

    Looks as though the strategy of wholesale humiliation, killing and wanton destruction that worked so well in Iraq ( maybe) is not going to work in Afghanistan.

    So now the US mercenaries and redneck troops are going to become caring sharing nice guys, give up their racist ways and abandon their military training, is that the plan?

    The last 8 years of civilian killings, illegal detention, torture and general destruction have not worked?

  18. 18 jim sharp

    comrades take care: “while draining the swamps” uncle sam as an habit of finding local allies.

    one fascine crusade

    a “benevolent” imperium drains a swamp
    by might & creates Swamplands anew while
    again & again needing to drain to control
    unto wards its sovereign rules

    No! strange times ain’t a marx to mao suchlike
    So! be off & don’t bother our class
    with your mealy mouthed insidiously
    imperial ‘democratic’ fascine crusade

  19. 19 SOWENS

    Arthur you say that you didnt take a public position on the invasion of Afghanistan but many of the contributors here did. If I remember correctly a leaflet was organised through the parent site for distribution to the media and in person at International Womens Day rallies. From memory the leaflet urged Australians to support the invasion as a mark of solidarity with Afghani women.
    Did anyone see the 4 Corners programme that documented the widespread enslavement and rape of young boys as praciced before and after the invasion by the Northern Alliance?

  20. 20 Arthur

    Steve, I advocated invading Iraq well before the fact. I was still making up my mind on Afghanistan until it had actually happened (a much shorter interval). Naturally I supported it once it had happened when there was no longer any political relevance as to whether or not it “should” happen (though still with an attitude closer to “benevolent neutrality” in view of the lack of any strategy for revolutionary social change – in contrast to Iraq where I was confident there could be no other point to invading).

    Its still unclear to me whether the current talk of doing deals with scum like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and sections of the Taliban is just a cover story while actually getting more serious about the changes necessary in Afghanistan to win or whether the current administration is still as uninterested in Afghanistan as the previous one was. Either way I still expect they will eventually have no choice but to “bite the bullet” and am still unenthusiastic about anything short of that (while of course despising the pseudos who would like to leave Afghanistan to the tender mercies of the Taliban and preferring at least some action to none at all).

  21. 21 SOWENS

    Arthur you seem to work from the position that if the aim is noble or in Afghanistans case the wheels are in motion then you support the enterprise.
    May I suggest an alternative approach.
    When war on Afghanistan is proposed ask yourself who will we depose? The evil Taliban of course.
    And who will we rely on, on the ground?
    Well the Northern Alliance you know the people who are known for drug dealing and pediphilia and general warlordism.
    You mean the people that ran Afghanistan so badly that many Afghanis moved to support the Taliban? Well yes.
    Or try this. When Invasion of Iraq is mooted ask yourself and who has people on the ground with guns? Well south of Kirkuk its the Supreme Council a group formed by the Iranian Revolutonary Gaurd who have an anti democratic adgenda.
    Well America could go it alone in Iraq if it put in enough troops to secure the borders and disarm groups like the Supreme Council.
    Trouble is when President Bush ran as candidate Bush he claimed that the peace keeping roles that Clinton had initiated had streached the US military too far. Iraq was always going to be a big job especially when the US military was fighting in Afghanistan and by the admission of the president was already overstreached before Afghanistan.
    My point is that its just not good enough to be onside with the aim you must also have reasonable cause to believe that it will succeed. I still cant see how anyone could look at the pre existing alignment of forces in Afghanistan or Iraq and conclude that the outcome would be positive.

  22. 22 Arthur

    In the few weeks between 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan I did not have time to form an opinion as to whether it would merely be restoring the vicious Northern Alliance instead of the Taliban (as feared by RAWA). Events showed it was better than that, though far from satisfactory and once it had actually happened it was obvious that the eventually the Americans and NATO would have to get serious even if they weren’t doing anything very useful beyond removing the Taliban at the start.

    In the longer period to the invasion of Iraq it was obvious that there would be absolutely no point in such an invasion unless they intended to smash the Baathist regime and that this would represent a fundamental strategic change of direction from upholding autocratic “stability” that was horrifying the foreign policy establishment based on similar concerns as yours and welcomed by me as revolutionary opponent of autocratic stability.

    BTW in case you haven’t noticed, the Iranian regime hasn’t been doing too well in either Iraq or Iran recently.

  23. 23 SOWENS

    Iran not doing well? I imagine that the Iranian government are shitting bricks about the show of defiance put up by people who think elections should be free and fair. But on the other hand the Iranians must be pretty pleased that their preparations towards becoming a nuclear bomb power are going along fairly unhindered.
    As to their role in Iraq I would think that the Iranians would be pretty pleased. On one hand they have managed to retard the Allawi electoral machine through their stooge Chalabi who was supported through this shameful electoral manipulation by Maliki. Chalabi is even being spoken about as a replacement Prime Minister much in the stop gap fashion that Maliki became Prime Minister.
    More importantly the Iranians must be pleased that they were able to fashion an alliance between the Sadrists and the Supreme Council. So far not much has happened in this election campaign that wouldnt please the Iranians.
    So maybe youve noticed something I havent.

  24. 24 Arthur

    I’ve noticed that Al Mutlaq’s threatened Sunni boycott has collapsed and that alignment of Supreme Council with Sadrists reflects weakness of both. Leaving aside the details I’ve noticed that Iraq’s future will be decided through elections, unlike the rest of the region.

    Unlike the US foreign policy establishment I’m more interested in who will be governing Iran in a few years than whether they will have a capability to develop nuclear weapons.

  25. 25 steve owens

    The Sunni boycott was always a bad idea, nothing like doing what your enemies want, so its collapse is welcome. The Sadr-Supreme Council alignment will be weak if people continue the trend of moving away from the more overtly religious parties.(that’s an unknown at this time) Yes elections are preferable to other means of selecting governments here’s hoping that elections continue after the occupation has ended. I think that when Iran blows up a nuke it will be significant as governments get a patriotic boost just what the democratic forces don’t need.

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