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OFF THE SHELF: INVISIBLE HISTORY, AFGHANISTAN’S UNTOLD STORY

Posted by Lisa -

Thu, Jul 9, 2009

Afghanistan

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Every other week or so, we will post a new review of a book relevant to war, peace and women.  This week, CODEPINK organizer Lisa Savage of Maine reviews Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story by Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould, with an Introduction by Sima Wali. For more great reads, visit here.

In Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (City Lights Books, 2009), authors Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould give a current examination of the last hundred years in Afghanistan. The wife-and-husband journalists researched the book with Sima Wali, author of the introduction, part of a generation of women in Afghanistan who had access to education, and whose vision of what their society might become lies in tatters today. Her family fled the country in 1978 when the monarchy ended, during a time when she and other Afghanis were “striving on the path to democracy.” Ms. Wali describes this book, which has gotten rave reviews everywhere, as a “phenomenal compendium of .. the complex dynamics” of her country.

Complex dynamics is a mild term for a country that touches four regions of the vast sharing zone that is Eurasia, and has been at the intersection of many of their competitions. This book’s very clear focus on what is possible in Afghanistan has it moving quickly through background material before a closer examination of power plays in the region from 20th century until today. That the U.S. created the very enemies it now claims it must fight by bombing civilians is well-known. Here are the well-presented details.

An excellent chapter at the end offers What Can President Barack Obama Do?, an organized list of  solid recommendations.  It includes 2. Stop humiliating Afghan men and desecrating their homes, a practice many say recruits militants. The list also acknowledges the problem of humanitarian aid trickling down slowly and meagerly: 4. Start helping Afghans in a way they can understand, see, and appreciate. Empowering women in Afghanistan to work and educate themselves is a key component of this proposal.

Sima Wali describes a “vast majority of willing Afghans who are capable of ushering in democratic change.” Mr. President, are you listening?

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