Gjesteskribent

Fremstillingen av Afghanistan-krigen i norske medier går stort sett entydig ut på at det går i gal retning. En som har gjentatt og sanksjonert denne oppfatningen er «eksperten» Kristian Berg Harpviken, som tillegges orakel-evner.

Den erfarne reporteren Peter Bergen har vært i Afghanistan i våres. Peter Bergen er forfatter av flere bøker om Al Qaida, han er reisevant, kunnskapsrik, med gode kontakter. Han gir et helt annet bilde av Afghanistan og krigen enn det norske medier gjennomgående gjør.

Han gjengir en forholdvis fersk meningsmåling som viser overveldende oppslutning om vestlig intervensjon og tilstedeværelse. Det er ikke akkurat det inntrykk man får av norske medier.

And yet, strangely, despite all the problems facing their country, Afghans remain decisively upbeat about both their government and the presence of international forces. According to a countrywide poll conducted by ABC News and the BBC late last year, President Karzai enjoys an approval rating of 68 percent, while 88 percent say they are happy the United States invaded, 74 percent hold a favorable opinion of America, and 80 percent say they want foreign troops to remain.

I den senere tid har svartmalingen tiltatt. Det sies nå at Afghanistan er for farlig å dra tilbake til. Men tallene over drepte er foreløpig beskjedne. 600 ble drept av selvmordsbomber ifjor.

For noen år siden var det mye oppmerksomhet rundt en familie hazarer som hadde søkt asyl i Norge. Fredrik Barth fortalte om deres vanskelige stilling. Hazarene er en av folkegruppene som opplever en gullalder nå som ikke bare Taliban, men også åket til tadjiker og pashtuner er borte. Bergen flyr inn i deres kjerneområde, hvor Buddah-statuene i Bamiyan sto.

No group has more reason for optimism than the Hazaras, an ethnic minority whose distinctive Asiatic features and Shiism set them apart from the predominantly Sunni Pashtun and Tajik populations. Fleeing government-led pogroms in the late nineteenth century, they moved deep into the impenetrable mountains of central northern Afghanistan, known as the Hazarajat.

To get there, I took a U.N. helicopter over mountains more than 10,000 feet high, their passes clogged with snow. Eventually, we descended into a valley where sandstone cliffs rimmed green fields and a lively market town. This was the region’s capital, Bamiyan–best known to Westerners as the former home of the enormous stone Buddhas that the Taliban reduced to fragments in March 2001. Those fragments are now stored in rudimentary shelters near the twin niches that once housed the giant statues. A decision is still pending as to how–or whether–the Buddhas can be put back together.

Security in Bamiyan is handled by a small contingent of soldiers from New Zealand who drive around town in SUVs, a striking contrast to the armored Humvees that American soldiers must take on excursions out of their forward operating bases in the eastern reaches of the country. Kids wave at the Kiwis as they drive by, while merchants, who fled to the mountains when the Taliban were running the show, now do a brisk business.

Presiding over this Afghan success story is Habiba Sarabi–the country’s only female governor, and my guide to Bamiyan. Under an intense sun, I watched her officiate at a graduation ceremony for police cadets, which, quite unusually, included ten women in headscarves and neatly pressed blue uniforms. Performing a vaguely Eastern European goose step, the cadets marched smartly up to the podium to be inducted into the Afghan National Police.

Sarabi is an irrepressible woman, smiling constantly from behind a pair of glasses and a veil draped over a dark jacket, which she wore with a matching skirt. A pharmacist by training, she speaks with the English she learned while working for an NGO in Pakistan, where she fled the Taliban with her three children. From there, she helped organize underground schools in Kabul and other Afghan cities that continued to operate under the Taliban. Following the U.S. invasion, she was named minister for women’s affairs. Sarabi says the biggest achievement of her tenure was to help enshrine equal rights for women in the constitution and secure a quarter of the seats in parliament for females. She adds that around 40 percent of girls in Afghanistan are now in school.

Sarabi’s Hazara minority has also seen dramatic changes in the past several years. She terms it a «golden age» for her people, citing the low level of violence in her province and the numerous government projects that are underway there. «Sometimes,» she tells me as she jumps into an SUV guarded by a single armed officer, «I think I am a very good target for Taliban.»

40 prosent av jentene i Afghanistan går på skole. Det er det de norske soldatene slåss for. Burde vi ikke bli minnet om det litt oftere? Istedet brukes afghanere foran Stortinget til å svekke tilliten til systemet, til myndighetene og deres vurderingsevne, enten det gjelder tilslutning til NATO eller asylpolitikken.

Maymana

Bergen besøker også området hvor de norske er stasjonert og kaller det et rolig strøk. Han deltar på en jirga, hvor opiumutryddelse er tema. Norske medier fremstiller det gjennomgående som at alt amerikanerne gjør er feil. Men disse mediene underslår at det er Taliban som driver narkotrafikken. I norske medier fremstilles Taliban fremdeles som moralske, men fanatiske. Det er en løgn. Heroin-business gjør det mulig for Taliban å betale en fighter fire ganger lønnen til en regjeringssoldat eller politi.

In Maymana, the provincial capital of Faryab, I watched as Daud–a dapper dresser in an off-white safari jacket and slacks into which he had tucked a pistol–addressed an outdoor jirga of 300 tribal leaders, resplendent in their gray and white turbans and surrounded by fluttering black, green, and red Afghan flags. Daud explained to them that the government was considering sending its forces to Faryab to help with eradication. Daud was followed by Doug Wankel, the American Embassy’s point person on drugs in Afghanistan. Wankel echoed the oft-quoted words of President Karzai: «Either Afghanistan destroys poppy, or drugs will destroy Afghanistan.» The speeches were met with applause.

Hvis opium er det som finansierer Taliban – og gangstere – er det ingen vei utenom å ødelegge opiumsåkrene. Det vil møte motstand fra bønder som tjener gode penger.

Bergen dro til Afghanistan for å oppleve Talibans våroffensiv. Den uteble. Blant annet fordi alle var ute på åkrene, opptatt med å høste råopium.

Det er ikke tilfeldig at opiumsdyrking og Taliban-områdene overlapper hverandre.

Bergen blir med til provinshovedstaden Tarin Kot i den Uruzgan, der opiumsåkrene strekker seg så langt øyet kan se.

The first day of eradication was a bust because the eradication team drove to some poppy fields that lay outside the area local leaders had agreed to destroy. Daud left the following day for Kabul, but, two days later, Taliban fighters, some disguised in burkas, sprang a series of ambushes on the eradication force, pinning them down in an intense firefight, resulting in four wounded Afghan policemen. When I heard the news, I couldn’t help thinking that if you deployed American cops to wipe out the crops and livelihoods of farmers in, say, Iowa, they might also find themselves on the receiving end of some shotgun fire.

The Taliban exploits such situations masterfully. Abdul Haq Hanif, a spokesman for the Taliban before he was arrested in February, acknowledged the linkage between his organization and the drug trade when he conceded to me what pretty much every Afghan and American official in Afghanistan has been saying for years: that the Taliban is, in part, a narcoterrorist organization, much like the farc in Colombia. It’s no surprise, then, that where poppy is grown, support for the Taliban runs high. In a poll conducted in March by the Senlis Council, an independent research organization, 27 percent of those interviewed in Kandahar and Helmand provinces–where much of Afghanistan’s poppy is grown–said they supported the Taliban, a number that is five times higher than in the rest of the country. And, thanks in part to drug money, the Taliban’s coffers are flush: According to U.N. officials who track Taliban finances, Taliban fighters are now being paid $300 a month, four times the wage of the average Afghan police officer.

Norske medier har vist hysteriske tendenser når en norsk soldat blir såret. I stedet burde de vist beherskelse. Kombinasjonen av overfølsomhet og opphaussing av fienden skaper defaitistiske holdninger som munner ut i en logisk konklusjon: bring soldatene hjem. Men det er en parodi på Vietnam. Det er slett ikke samvittighet som driver SV og fredsfronten, men en populisme som til syvende og sist er kynisk. Den tjener kreftene som henrettet kvinner som dyr på sportsstadioen i Kabul. Men alt er bedre enn NATO ifølge denne versjonen. Bruk av våpenmakt fremstilles som suspekt.

I vår verden kan slike holdninger kun tjene til å undergrave viljen til å forsvare andre menneskers frihet. Det krever selvsagt noe ekstra å sende sønner og døtre ut for å dø for andre. Særlig hvis de sprenger dem i lufta med selvmordsbomber eller skyter dem i ryggen. Irakiske metoder anvendes i Afghanistan og kan gi vann på mølla for den negative propagandaen som journalister, fredsfronten og eksperter som Harpviken sprer. -Taliban er ved å lykkes, som Harpviken sa etter den siste store selvmordsbomben i Kabul. Samme vinkel anlegges når NATO-fly angriper en Taliban-leir hvor det var en skole. Sju unger blir drept. NRK Dagsnytt opplyste ikke at det var snakk om en madrassa, og at ungene ble nektet å forlate området.

Peter Bergen er ikke i tvil om at sikkerhet står høyest på afghanernes ønskeliste.

But some of the credit also goes to nato, which, in March, launched a preemptive attack against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. That month, 4,500 nato soldiers moved around the Kanjaki dam in Helmand Province, an area the Taliban had controlled until last summer. The aim was to secure the surrounding region so that reconstruction could begin on the dam, which will eventually provide electricity to almost two million households in Kandahar and Helmand.

The Kanjaki operation reflects an admirable, and long overdue, push to secure swaths of the country that previously had been rife with violence. The Bush administration is now asking for more than $11 billion in aid over the next two years, much of it for the Afghan army and police. As Hobbes recognized four centuries ago, it is security that is the most important public good; and, as a senior Afghan diplomat pointed out to me, an effective police force will prove far more useful here in the short term than more computer schools.

Of course, if Afghanistan is to stabilize, it will take more than increased funding for police work. Pakistan must finally rein in its backward tribal belt, where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have long been regrouping–and which is now a staging ground for suicide attacks from London to Lahore. And the Afghan government will need to find a way to address crushing unemployment, which currently stands at 40 percent. Perhaps a public employment program dedicated to rebuilding the country’s devastated infrastructure–and paid for by the United States–might do the trick. It would, at the very least, be a far more productive use of U.S. money than poppy eradication.

Pakistan er det avgjørende leddet i bekjempelsen av Taliban. Hvis ikke grensesområdene bringes under kontroll kan krigen bremses, ikke vinnes. Det ser dårlig ut. Musharraf er på vikende front og de ekstreme utfordrer ham åpent.

Bergen i The New Republic etterlater et helt annet inntrykk enn det som spres i norske medier. Det betenkelige er at det stort sett er én versjon som går igjen, og den undergraver både affghanernes sak og de norske soldatenes innsats. Det er en falsk humanitet.

A JOURNEY AMONG SUICIDE BOMBERS, FEMINIST GOVERNORS, AND ACRES AND ACRES OF POPPIES.
Afghan Spring