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An Open Letter to Kofi Annan

A Six-Point Peace Plan for Afghanistan

by AFGHAN YOUTH PEACE VOLUNTEERS

Dear Mr. Kofi Annan,

Salams from Afghanistan!

The six point peace plan which you have proposed for Syria has a collected calm that is missing in Afghanistan.

We are a grassroots group of ordinary, multi-ethnic Afghans and we’re tired of our world being like it is. We wish for a life of non-violence, the unity of all people, equality, and self-reliance, and we seek non-military solutions for Afghanistan.

But the profoundly greedy and antagonistic governments of today do not practice these values. The ground realities of our daily lives do not match up with any ‘ideal’ that leaders double-speak of, so enough!

We no longer expect anything from any leader except self-interest. We respect them as fellow human beings but we will not submit to their status-quo exploitation of the 99%.

We will not be robbed, then blamed.

We will not be killed, then compensated.

Nowadays, the people of the world are protesting this unequal status quo, because we all wish to live freely, free from the economic and geopolitical wars that cling to us like the stubborn soot of serial arson.

We apologize for ventilating to you, but if you have the chance to visit this ‘terrible war relic of a land’, you will immediately feel in the air the greed and the antagonism that the ‘war against terrorism’ has set alight. We’re not only speaking about the sights, sounds and smells of decay and death. We’re describing the rotting of our souls.

We distrust one another. We’re angry and hurting, and losing hope.

Meanwhile, the leaders strategize and fight behind closed doors, and make a show of negotiating. Their negotiations are ultimately tiring schemes to win through force.

Especially for Afghan mothers, force is the faucet of tears that won’t be turned off.

For U.S. and NATO leaders, we wish we could cup and bring these oceans of tears across the miles to their shores, to reason peaceably with them that however ‘just’, ‘necessary’ and ‘accurate’ they imagine their targeted killings to be, wars do not work, especially not for the people.

Mr Annan, just as you had quickly concluded in Syria, we’ve experienced that further militarization in an already militarized Afghanistan has not only been unhelpful, it has been distastefully unkind.

An ‘Annan Six Point Peace Plan for Afghanistan’ would bear immediate relevance for Afghanistan.

In terms of humanitarian needs, Afghanistan ranked 172 out of 187 on the 2011 Human Development Index. 35% live below the poverty line. Unemployment is at 36%. Afghanistan has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world.

Regarding security for ordinary Afghans, Afghan civilian deaths rose for the fifth straight year reaching a record level of 3021 in 2011. The ICRC’s Head of delegation, Reto Stocker, said in March 2011, “It is an untenable situation. People tell us that they are caught in the middle of the conflict and they don’t know which way to turn.”

Afghans live so miserably, that last year, 30 000 Afghans took arduous journeys to seek asylum in Europe, the highest rate of Afghans seeking asylum there in the past 10 years.

In terms of the military ‘peace’ strategy, there is such hellish distrust of and hate for the U.S./Afghan military partnership that ‘guardian angels’ are needed to guard U.S. soldiers from ‘rogue’ Afghan soldiers.

The U.S. led ‘peace’ talks with the Taliban and with Hizb-e-Islami have broken down. The U.S. is practically at drone-war with Pakistan.  By establishing long-term military bases and maneuvers in Afghanistan, the U.S. projects military threats to neighboring countries, including Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China, as if that will make the Pakistanis, Iranians, Russians and Chinese happy and peaceful interlocutors.

U.S. or foreign military bases cause rather than prevent September 11s.

And, in terms of global terrorism, where on earth are the Al Qaeda ‘safe havens’? It’s impossible to physically raid and bomb away ‘the vengeful anger behind terrorism’.

‘Terrorists’?

With respect to aspirations for ultimate outcomes in Syria, there appears to be two main alignments:

1.     Assad’s government, Russia, China, Iran…

2.     Syrian National Council, U.S. and Friends of Syria, Arab League, Al Qaeda…

On which side are the ‘non-terrorists’, and who are the ‘terrorists’? Neither alignment has excluded violence.

In accepting ‘Annan’s Six Point Peace Plan’, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said that the “terrorism” of foreign-supported fighters must stop as well.

Der Spiegel wrote that “Men who once did battle against American soldiers, and were branded as Al-Qaeda terrorists, are now fighting on the side of Syrian insurgents, whose victory over Assad would be entirely welcomed by the West. Still, the involvement of foreign jihadist fighters makes it more difficult to differentiate between good and evil in the Syrian conflict.”

On a human level, we’re certain that you share with us the realization that there are no ‘terrorists’, only multiple opponents trying to win through superior ‘terror’.

Alternatives?

In the interest of applying the ‘six-point peace plan’ to Afghanistan, we respectfully suggest two revisions, an italicized addition in Point 1 and a crossed out portion in Point 3.

ANNAN’s six-point peace plan for AFGHANISTAN

1. Afghan-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Afghan people, led by Afghan citizens who have not killed anyone

2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms* by all parties to protect civilians

3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting. and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause.

4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons

5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists

6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully

*in principle, we’re certain that you mean both armed and unarmed violence in all its forms

Thank you, Mr Kofi Annan and team! Thanks for upholding the potential for practical diplomacy, which to us is upholding human dignity.

You’re in such a tough place, with the Arab League pledging $100 million to pay the Syrian opposition and the U.S. sending communications equipment including night goggles, but we trust that you will remain seasoned and firm. The position of non-violence is the strongest place to be, however lonely or hard.

We share and experience the same pain as ordinary Syrians. Having lost two million loved ones over the past 4 decades of the Afghan game, we feel that this game is as deserving of attention as the Syrian game.

Unfortunately, though Afghanistan’s peace and security is made out to be so important for the region and the rest of the world, the U.S. / Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement is not even being put to a UN Security Council discussion, far less a vote.

A proposal from you or your colleagues would present an urgent and viable alternative to perpetual war in South Asia.

It may provide Afghans the opportunity to begin trusting again.

Sincerely,

The Afghan Peace Volunteers