Friday, November 10, 2006

A Bed of Red Flowers

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day of course, and sadly, Canadians don’t have to think too hard to “remember” the sacrifices of wars past, as the news from Afghanistan is a constant reminder of the terrible cost of war. The conflict in Afghanistan is complex and confusing - one can only imagine the difficulties our troops have in understanding the situation on the ground.

There have been a number of recent books published on Afghanistan recently, all by women. The most prominent of these was A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan (2005) by Nelofer Pazira. The star of and inspiration for the film, Kandahar, Pazira tells the story of her life - from childhood in a wealthy Kabul family, to the horror of war and occupation, to her escape to Canada and her return to Afghanistan under the Taliban. “Written movingly, honestly and lyrically, it is the story of Afghanistan itself", wrote Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner.

The Punishment of Virtue: inside Afghanistan after the Taliban (2006) by Sarah Chayes
Frustrated with her bystander role as a journalist, Chayes became a field director for an Afghan NGO, Afghans for Civil Society. ACS's reconstruction work brought Chayes into conflict with the infamous Afghan warlords, including Kandahar’s corrupt warlord-governor. Her journalist skills and her hands-on experience make for an excellent explanation of the current situation.

Kabul in Winter : life without peace in Afghanistan (2006) by Ann Jones.
Jones, a veteran writer (Women Who Kill), tells of her post 9-11 experiences as an NGO worker in Kabul. She tours Kabul's streets, homes, schools and a women's prison, focusing on Afghan women many of whom whose lives have an undercurrent of violence.

I is for Infidel : from Holy War to Holy Terror in Afghanistan (2005) by Kathy Gannon.
Gannon is veteran American journalist (AP correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan 1986-2005) with years of experience in Afghanistan. She has met and debated with many of the key figures in the conflict, whether Taliban, mujahadeen or extremist Pakistani. An excellent overview of the roots of the current situation, albeit a depressing one given the opportunities missed.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chayes also ran Mercy corps and millions form USAID and was working with the Green Berets during and after the war. She now trains US military on Afghanistan.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Libarbarian said...

Anonymous, wild accusations are the kind of thing that get people killed in Afghanistan. As the Globe & Mail's Geoffrey York reported on June 10, 2006, Chayes's latest venture is a Kandahar soap-making cooperative, Arghand [www.arghand.org].

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Librarian,

Do the research before you say it's false. The above is correct.
As far as getting people killed - she has. An employee for Mercy Corps(provisional authority) was assasinated and was, like her, a Peace Corps volunteer.

As far as her NGOs and soap making:

Arghand and ACS both seemed to benefit from Chayes background. She helped with a radio station and had worked with NPR. She financed Arghand from Mercy Corps, which she ran - which was financed by USAID. She worked closely with the Green Berets during and after the invasion and embedded herself with Mercy corps.

The members of Arghand are all Karzai brothers and sitters in laws that were involved in Afghanistan back in 1998. This allowed Karzai to move into power nicely and his family was well paid through Chayes and the NGOs.

Chayes is from Cambridge and her father taught at the university. He was also a close advisor to Kennedy, who started Peace Corps, which Sarah Chayes served. This history got her the job at NPR and the rest is history.

As far as her being CIA, there was allot of money from AID going to Mercy Corps. She was with the Green Berets during and after the invasion, also started by Kennedy (PeaceCorps with guns, same training), and the director of the poppy program for the DEA was also the Director of Peace Corps. Chayes and the Peace Corps model seemed to work well for the invasion and pacification of Afghanistan- two phases: Green Berets and Peace. It is a model based on another war and so is the Poppy Program.

Chayes went for the whole Karzai family, an easy way to Hamid Karzai. Selecting this leader also involved Chalabi who was not approved by this group. Chayes provided money for the NGOs that Karzai and his family were involved with and deemed herself 'close' to the leadership.

A couple of months ago Chayes announced she was going to the US to sell her book, just before the 'insurgency' broke out. At the same time she denounced Karazai who just announced he is leaving. So, Chayes may have been good for financing, but used this to get close to karzai and his family and when she felt they were no longer needed denounced them and the government - went of to sell her book, advise governments and militaries regarding her five year work in Afghanistan.

Chayes is more a study on how to use a family and a country and how to leave them when done, which is why there always were CIA rumors. The invasion and pacification is a nice journey for Abrahm Chaye's daughter-Kennedy, Green Berets, Peace Corps, etc. I am sure Sarah Chayes appreciates the invasion, drug eradication, and pacification of Afghanistan in her history as a family and her service.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Libarbarian said...

Good grief anonymous, are you an ex-husband of Chayes or something? Because you really seem to have an axe to grind! It seems to me that Chayes has done a great service to people in the NATO countries fighting in Afghanistan with her book and her recent opinion pieces. It was Chayes who opened Canadian eyes to the problems with the Taliban and Pakistan. Is she advising the US and NATO forces ("trains US military" in your words)? It seems like it would be a good idea for our forces to ask someone like her for information on what the hell is going on in Kandahar and other hot spots. But what do I know - I just liked her book and thought other people should read it!

3:45 PM  

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