Peace and Socialism

The two most celebrated leftist literary figures of the 1930s--40s, George Orwell (1903--1950) and Arthur Koestler (1905--1983), lived through the 20th century's revolutionary times as documentarists. They were on the front lines as journalists in the Spanish civil war, came close to death there and in WWII, and then wrote their explosive novels dissecting the communist experience from the inside.

Orwell never joined any party, let alone the Communist Party of Great Britain, but was inspired to go to Spain to fight fascism, and was condemned when he returned to Britain in 1937 for having joined the Trotskyist POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista) to fight Franco. His brush with both fascist snipers and Stalinist enemies led him to write Animal Farm and 1984, after which he died of TB, before he could witness what was done with his works.

Koestler joined the German Communist Party in 1931, 'saw the light' by 1934 as his friends started being arrested in Moscow, but stuck it out until 1938, writing Darkness at Noon, becoming the toast of post-WWII western Cold War intellectuals (and the CIA). Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he eventually committed suicide with his wife in 1983.


We are fed a load of tripe about the Taliban in the western press. They are portrayed as crude, illiterate, opium traffickers and murders. They are quite the opposite. They are, in the first place, a legend, which began in the 1980s when a movement to resist the lawlessness left by the collapse of the secular regime was formed by brave, uncorrupt ‘talibs’ like Abdul Salam Zaeef, one of the founders of the Taliban, coined by the BBC in 1994.


The ‘students’ were the educated branch of the native Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s, though there was never any interest or need for western style formal parties. Good, educated Muslim leaders were respected and consulted by all. Sectarian politics is alien to Muslim society, seen as divisive and even authoritarian, as proven time and again by majority-rule pseudo-democracies, as developed to meet the needs of regulating modern-day imperialism from the 19th century on.


Freedom fighters





independence struggle and Ogaden split with Ethiopia


Indedependence struggle and Durrand Line border


Coup and socialist military regime under Barre


Daoud coup


Ogaden war


Socialist coup


Switch to US backing


Soviet invasion, US backs rebels


US overthrows socialist leader


Soviet withdrawal


Warlord chaos -> Shabab


Warlord chaos -> Taliban


US bombing Shabab


US invasion, bombing Taliban


US rejects ICU truce


Taliban resurgence


US drones and bombs


US troop surge, drones, bombs

Somalia achieved independence only in 1960, and major general Said Barre took power in a coup in 1969. By the 1970s, Somalia was prospering, free of British/ Italian 'protection', socialist, a model third world state from the Soviet point of view, not yet targeted by the US. Ethiopia had a Nasser-like military coup in 1974 promising socialism next door. Sudan was at peace and pursuing a Nasserist policy under Colonel Gaafar Nimeiri. Nkruma’s dream of a united socialist Africa looked like it might actually be coming true.

At the top of the world, Afghanistan was following a similar trajectory, though somewhat delayed. It had been left in peace since the 1920s, recognizing and living peacefully with the socialist monolith to the north, slowly modernizing. But, just as in Somalia, its intelligentsia was attracted to socialism.

The Canadian government under Justin Trudeau is undermining not just Canada’s (ok, undeserved) reputation as an honest, fair mediator, but he has chosen 2019 to make Canada the enabler of the worst of US imperial policies.

Yes, the Huawei debacle is an embarrassment that will be remembered more as a joke, though possibly as the Suez Crisis of the US empire.* Whatever. Canada to the rescue! And of course, Canada reviles Islamic Iran, while shedding crocodile tears for the 50 Muslims murdered last week in New Zealand.

But far more despicable, downright ‘war-crime’ territory is Canada’s role in undermining the Venezuelan socialist government. The US war on Venezuela has been ongoing ever since Hugo Chavez miraculously survived a US-backed coup in 2002. Canada has been a minor irritant to the socialists, but not the villain. Until now.

Submission to the Conference: The peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban

Swiss UMEF University Château d’Aïre, Geneva, Switzerland

February 22, 2019.

Afghanistan as the Great Game victim

Eric Walberg

Afghanistan has shaped my career as teacher, writer, journalist, peace activist. It is the central issue of both the collapse of communism or ‘real existing socialism’ as the Soviets modestly called it, and of the final stage of US empire. Watching the maneuvering of the great powers (the US is really the only ‘great’ power, but we can suppose China is becoming one, though its role in Afghanistan is still minimal, only as investor) and the regional powers (Russia, Pakistan, India, Iran) is like a reality game show. The great game analogy sees it in three parts, three distinct phases during the past two centuries.

I have been asked to address the role of the great powers and regional actors in post-occupation Afghanistan. Indulge me for a few moments to address the question in light of the current campaign by the only ‘great power’ against a country that looks surprisingly like Afghanistan, at least from a geopolitical and economic perspective -- Venezuela.

At the moment, the chess board activity is in Venezuela. It is enduring what we may call the latest ‘colour revolution’.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here