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Time for the Afghans to Declare Independence

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"Political interest can never be separated in the long run from moral right." --Thomas Jefferson

Although Afghanistan achieved de jure independence in 1919 after a 40-year stint as a British protectorate, Afghan self-determination has been ruthlessly undermined for the past three decades by external actors bent on satiating the geopolitical appetites of the global elite, denaturing a self-sufficient nation into one of the most violent, corrupt and poverty-stricken places on earth.

30 years of incessant war due to the best-laid plans of foreign powers has trapped the Afghan people in a violent nexus between savage religious extremists spawned by Pakistan and a predatory puppet regime backed by the Western terror-industrial complex.

Yet, all is not lost. The Afghans can move beyond nominal independence by leveraging the principles set forth in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms all native men and women possess the natural right of self-determination and can organize themselves to bring an end to all forms of oppression.

But first, the Afghans must smash and rewrite the dangerous narrative that has so enslaved them over the years by looking to their past and reinstituting sacred tribal institutions to establish a sovereignty based on the true will of the Afghan people.

In order to do so, however, the Afghans must leave the violence of the war zone to neutral countries where they can more freely go about the business of creating a government for Afghans, by Afghans. An indigenous and inclusive peace process can empower Afghanistan's future leaders with legitimate moral authority versus today's strongmen who derive their power from the barrel of a gun.

The current narrative being propagated by foreign elements designed to subjugate the population is one that would have you believe the Afghans are nothing more than backward peasants who wouldn't know what to do with self-government and liberty -- and one that is based on the false assumption that Afghan society has always been corrupt and violent. This narrative also tries to paint the Taliban as a "national" movement whose Wahhabi-Deobondi religious perversions represent traditional Afghan values.

However, the true story is that Afghanistan looked more like a democracy 100 years ago than it does today. The truth is that before the U.S. and Soviets began using Afghanistan as a Cold War chessboard in the 1970s, the Afghans enjoyed 40 consecutive years of peace and stability under the constitutional monarchy of King Zahir Shah, when the Afghan tribal structure, moral code and national identity were intact.

The sad reality is, before decades of foreign intervention, Afghanistan had been in the midst of implementing progressive reforms and transforming itself into an enlightened, prosperous, modern and democratic state. One is challenged to find another example of a society that has experienced such dramatic economic, political, technological and cultural regression in such a short time period.

Though it was self-sufficient in food production during the 1970s, today Afghanistan finds itself on life support with its very survival contingent upon outside assistance. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee report recently released indicated that "an estimated 97 percent of Afghanistan's GDP is derived from spending related to the international military and donor community presence."

The international largesse pumped into Afghanistan has simply fattened the corrupt ruling elite while the rest of society lives in squalor. 40% of the population remains unemployed and 36% still live below the poverty line, with over 5 million of the destitute trying to survive on $43 a month.

According to a 2010 UN report:

Unprecedented resource flows have created a new cast of rich and powerful individuals who operate outside the traditional power/tribal structures and bid the cost of favors and loyalty to levels not compatible with the underdeveloped nature of the country.

Numerous foreign players have imposed self-serving extremist ideologies on the Afghan citizenry for the past 30 plus years that have contributed to the destruction of the tribal structure and altered the progressive balance historically maintained by the monarchy.

Although clearly a creation of the Pakistani military, the Saudi-inspired Taliban spun themselves as an indigenous force during the 1990s and fooled war-weary Afghans into laying down their arms. Of course, upon taking power the Taliban turned into vicious occupiers responsible for brutality towards women and the ethnic cleansing of the non-Pashtun minorities.

The current crisis can also be traced to the Bonn Conference in Germany, where the post-9/11 Afghan government was created under UN auspices by a cast of characters entrenched with Western powers and other regional actors.

The result was an over-centralized Western-style government that allowed for power to be grossly consolidated into the hands of a few. To make matters worse, the U.S. then illegitimately installed Hamid Karzai as the Afghan president in complete defiance of the will of the Afghans who longed for Zahir Shah's return from exile. While operating under the guise of "democracy", the Karzai government's electoral fraud and pecuniary malfeasance has disenfranchised and economically deprived most Afghans.

A new and essential departure from the existing narrative is needed to reorient both Afghan and Western thinking. Radical times call for radical measures. This is why the Afghans must head to nonaligned countries such as Ireland, Turkey and Kuwait to plan and hold traditional tribal meetings called jirgas.

The jirga is an assembly of Afghan leaders and tribal elders typically convened to resolve major political issues, like the jirga in 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durrani was appointed the first Emir of the modern Afghan state. It is a sacred tool that has been used for centuries by the Afghans and is, in fact, one of the oldest forms of democracy.

The reason these deliberations must be conducted abroad is the outcome of a jirga held under foreign occupation would be unacceptable to the tribes. Only decisions from a jirga in a neutral country would be considered legitimate due to the absence of regional and domestic coercive forces.

The purpose in declaring a new Afghan independence is not to specify a political solution but to renew a trusted political process based on native sovereignty, which will restore the tribal balance, revive national solidarity and empower the "silent majority" of the Afghan people to finally determine their own destiny.