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Christian Parenti, photo by Robin Holland
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June 8, 2007

Journalist Christian Parenti has just returned from his fourth trip to Afghanistan, chronicling the intricate political and social situation in this war torn nation, stories of corruption and poverty often overshadowed by the war in Iraq.

"Each time it becomes less safe. Each time I've gone there, the Taliban control more and more territory. And what's particularly disturbing is that the Taliban even have a type of default popular support among people who originally supported the government," Parenti explains in his interview with Bill Moyers.

And Parenti highlights the tremendous corruption of the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai as one of the reasons citizens are growing more sympathetic to the Taliban. "I also understand that if I lived under the tyranny of bribery, schemes and intimidation for long enough that maybe I would start imagining that the Taliban had reformed and that their strict, austere, uncorrupt form of justice could, in fact, be better than this."

Ajmal Naqshbandi, Parenti's translator and fixer in Afghanistan, was recently beheaded by the Taliban, after being abducted along with an Italian journalist and his driver at a Taliban checkpoint. Parenti describes how his friend Ajmal became disillusioned with the current government after being "shaken down by judges," and how this frustration perhaps led him to get too close to the Taliban:

"I think the wishful thinking that was born from his frustration with the corruption of the Karzai government made him think that the Taliban wouldn't kill him, because he was a Muslim, because he was an Afghan."

Christian Parenti has a Ph.D in Sociology from the London School of Economics and is a correspondent for THE NATION . He has reported extensively from Iraq and Afghanistan. His most recent book is THE FREEDOM: SHADOWS AND HALLUCINATIONS IN OCCUPIED IRAQ. His two previous books are THE SOFT CAGE: SURVEILLANCE IN AMERICA FROM SLAVERY TO THE WAR ON TERROR, (Basic Books, 2003) and LOCKDOWN AMERICA: POLICE AND PRISONS IN THE AGE OF CRISIS, (Verso, 2000).

References and Reading:
Find an archive of his recent articles, read book reviews and find out how to contact Mr. Parenti.

Read Parenti's latest article on Afghanistan: "Taliban Rising" THE NATION, October 30, 2006.
"This new pattern of political violence is seen as the "Iraqization" of the Afghan insurgency, which some fear could also lead to an Iraq-style meltdown or ethnically based fragmentation. Even the top NATO general here recently warned that most Afghans will soon support the Taliban if development and security do not significantly improve over the next six months."

BBC News In Depth: One Day in Afghanistan
"The BBC News Web site reported in detail on events in Afghanistan throughout one entire day back on 2005, in order to try to convey the fullest picture we could of life there ahead of parliamentary and local elections."

UC Berkeley Library: Afghanistan and the US
The Library at UC Berkeley has compiled a large number of Internet resources regarding many aspects of life and politics in Afghanistan, including: political parties and groups, rebuilding Afghanistan, voices of peace, effects of the recent war and the Taliban.

"As President Bush pledges another $10 billion to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan, and a spring offensive is expected against a resurgent Taliban, FRONTLINE/World correspondent Sam Kiley reports from the frontlines of the conflict, where dual battles are being fought to win the trust of the Afghan people and combat the extremists living among them. In the film, Kiley and his crew are granted unprecedented access to the outgoing British NATO commander David Richards who led 37,000 troops from 37 countries."

Center for Strategic and International Studies: "The Uncertain Metrics of Afghanistan (and Iraq)" (pdf)
By Anthony Cordesman, May 18, 2007.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies is "a bipartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C" that "seeks to advance global security and prosperity in an era of economic and political transformation."

Taleban kill Afghanistan reporter
BBC NEWS, April 8, 2007.
"The group said it had killed Ajmal Naqshbandi because the government had refused to meet its demands to release senior figures from prison."

Afghan journalists face gravest dangers
By By Tom Coghlan, TELEGRAPH, March 23, 2007.
"It is a popular mantra among foreign reporters that you are only as good as the local 'fixer' who works with you. As the rising risk levels in southern Afghanistan impose steadily greater limits for journalists trying to work in the south of the country the number of local Afghans who are prepared to risk a Taliban death sentence for working with foreigners has dwindled to a handful."

Murdered Afghan Interpreter and Journalist Missed
NPR, Weekend Edition, April 14, 2007.

Watch David Brancaccio interview Christian Parenti on NOW from March 31, 2006.
"The nature of Taliban attacks is changing. They're using suicide bombings a lot more. And they're attacking civilians, which they hadn't done in the past. So things are not good..".

Read the Counterinsurgency Field Manual, US Army, Decemeber 2006 (pdf)

Photo by Robin Holland

Published June 7, 2007

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Journalist Christian Parenti, just back from his fourth visit to the forgotten frontline, speaks to Moyers about the growing influence of warlords in government and the resurgence of the Taliban

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