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From: aaron doncaster <aaron.doncaster <at> gmail.com>
Subject: Learning from the Taliban: a message to the western anti-war movement
Newsgroups: gmane.politics.communism.environmental
Date: Saturday 14th November 2009 01:22:49 UTC (over 9 years ago)
Learning from the Taliban: a message to the western anti-war movement

"I would basically describe it as a religious network which turned into a
political movement". These are  words used by Antonio Guistozzi when
describing the evolution of the Taliban since they were  overthrown by
occupying armies in 2002. According to Guistozzi, a reasercher at the
of economics in London, the Taliban has been adapting to changing political
conditions on the ground by forming alliances with local communities. So
what does this mean?? It means that rather than being an
organization/government of theocratic fundamentalists, which it was before
NATO invaded, the Taliban has evolved into a confederation: a sort of
united front to oust the occupying forces, albeit one with theocratic
fundamentalists in it’s ranks.
How does this evolution of the Taliban affect anti-war organizing here in
the west? I would argue that from a strategic point of view, if we fail to
understand the changing geopolitical situation in Afghanistan, we undermine
our ability to engage in tactically effective campaigns that could lead to
us achieving our goals
What are our goals??? In order to understand this question we need to
realize that just like the Taliban in Afghanistan, we in the western
anti-war movement, are not a homogeneous group. I am going to describe,
my perspective two different groups, from the mosaic that makes up the
western anti-war movement, that I believe are impeding the development of a
strategic plan of action that is needed to end the occupation.
Their are those who are apposed to violence, who go around parroting
anti-war clichés without having a clear strategy for ending violence and
cannot decipher between conflict ,resistance and violence. I call these
folks authoritarian dogmatic pacifists. They tend to enjoy speaking Ad
Nauseum at anti-war events and tend to take control of organizing efforts.
Even if they have an ability to think strategically, their indulges in
actions of self-aggrandizement cloud and hamper their strategic thinking.
The other group of people who hinder the ability to develop an effective
strategy to end the occupation of Afghanistan are the sub groups of our
society who jump on the band wagon, usually riding the coat tails of ardent
organizers, only to jump off when the going gets tough or when their
to confront authority in a specific way is put in jeopardy by the
possibilities of victory. These folks, from my experience often tend to be
the politico-hiptser type and those who get drunk on the power of
confronting authority. They often claim to be some sort of warriors but
it comes down to it, they are cowards. You can often find these folks at
protests and demonstrations, yelling slogans like “fuck the police” at
safe distance from the police while others are often getting accosted by
those same police. Unfortunately, I have first hand experience of this .
Before I go any further, I want to say that these assumptions are only
deduced from my own experience and analysis and it is very possible that my
experience and analysis of the Western anti-war movement is an exception
from the norm experienced by others, thereby causing my deductions and
analyses to be incorrect. With that being said, as someone who considers
them self to be part of an anti-war movement here in the west, I feel like
all others who claim to be part of this movement, to  have a right to have
my feeling, opinions and analysis herd and critiqued.

So after that small digression, a digression that was needed in order to
understand that which we digressed from, let’s again ask ourselves what
our goal or goals? I think that even with selfish oriented folk, dogmatic
folk and cowardly folk within the anti-war movement, I believe that the
argument can still be made that the main goal is to end the Afghanistan
So with that being understood, how do keep our eyes on the prize???
We must understand that the pro war hawks in the military and in government
who have their own vested interest in seeing the war in Afghanistan
continue. These forces will do anything in their power that is politically
acceptable, to see the demise of the antu-war movement. They will even go
far as sending spies into our midst.
There are also those in parliament, who send gate keepers into the anti-war
movement to make sure that the movement does not become too effective.
folks have no interest in bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan, the
just want us to believe that they want an end to the war in order for them
to gain political power. I only have to point to the NDP government in Nova
Scotia to prove my point.
When we realize that their are those who have their own vested interests
within the anti-war movement (the NDP to name one group) that diverge from
our main goal and add to a hierarchical organisational structure  of the
movement, it then behooves us to  not only look more deeply  at the
diverging goals of those in the movement but also to look at the
organizational structure that allowed such divergences to appear
I believe the solution to our problems within the anti-war movement are to
be found in the evolution of  Taliban over the last 8 years. The reason why
the Taliban have been so effective as of late is that they have gotten away
from their hierarchal structure and built alliances that allow for allied
groups to keep their autonomy. Such an organizational form allows for a
diversity of tactics to be used when attacking your enemy. If we here in
west do not take on a form of organising within the anti-war movement  that
allows for a diversity of tactics and allows for respecting a diversity of
tactics, then I believe we will fail in achieving our main goal of ending
the occupation of Afghanistan. By learning from the strategic effectiveness
of the Taliban, it does not at all mean that we are accepting their
ideology. If this were the case, then I guess I should stop going to
with theists. Sure there will be those who say we are Taliban sympathizers
but those who refuse to see the differences between tactics, strategies and
ideologies and who would  continue, even after we make it clear that the
ideology of the fundamentalist Taliban is backwards and oppressive, to call
us Taliban sympathisers, I believe they deserve to be looked upon with
suspicion. Weather they are inept when it comes to forming strategy or they
are government agents, anyone who puts ideology and dogma before strategy
deserves to be looked upon with suspicion . I have argued before and I will
continue to argue that now is the time for us to learn this and only
a concerted campaign that allows for direct action civil disobedience and
economic sabotage, can we expect any kind of success when organizing to end
this war

Reverend Aaron Doncaster
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