Afghanistan: Eight Years and Counting
Editor’s Note: At the eighth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, more and more Americans are questioning why the United States is still fighting this war – and asking whether there is any end in sight for this bloody occupation.
In this guest essay, sociology professor Dennis Loo expresses the view of this emerging majority, in favor of ending the war:
Eight years ago, on Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. launched a war upon Afghanistan.
What have eight years of war and occupation accomplished?
Government corruption is so rife and pervasive that even the U.S. State Department has condemned it. The recent elections are still being contested because of massive fraud. War and drug lords are part of the government.
Afghanistan is near the worst in the world in poverty rates, life expectancy, unemployment, child mortality, and lack of human rights. It remains, however, number one in opium production.
Thousands of Afghans have been killed and millions continue to be refugees – either within Afghanistan or driven to other nations. Large gatherings of people, including wedding and dinner parties, are considered legitimate targets by the US military for bombing.
The results of this are predictable: Afghan anger and growing rage at the U.S.
Eight years of war and occupation and what do we see?
The Afghan economy is shattered. Women remain oppressed, as they were under the Taliban. This year President Hamid Karzai signed a law that requires Shi’ite women to obtain their husband’s permission to go to school, visit a doctor, go to work, and other ordinary activities.
It allows men to withdraw food from women if they refuse sexual demands. And a rapist can escape prosecution if he pays “blood money” to a girl he injured while raping her.
Eight years of war and U.S. leaders continue to debate what their aims are and how to achieve those aims. Their lack of clarity here isn’t a function primarily of lack of intelligence. You cannot justify an unjust and unwinnable war.
Eight years of war and U.S. leaders are prosecuting a war that a majority of the American public opposes. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released on Sept. 1 indicated that 57 percent oppose the Afghan war.
The percentage opposed to the war is the highest since CNN began polling after the war began. This is despite Obama’s many declarations that this is the “good war.”
The invasion was and is still being justified as self-defense because of 9/11. But according to a number of mainstream news accounts, the Afghan invasion was in the works months before 9/11. BBC on Sept. 18, 2001, reported in an article entitled: “US ‘Planned Attack on Taleban’” that “the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks.”
MSNBC on May 16, 2002, reported, “the United States intended a full-scale assault on al-Qaida even if the Sept. 11 attacks had not occurred.” (“US Sought Attack on Al-Qaida”)
Eight years of war and despite nearly 400,000 personnel working for the U.S. war effort, the “insurgents control or contest a significant portion of the country,” according to Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
U.S. military leaders openly admit that they are engaged in a “long war” in Afghanistan. Depending on which one you listen to, the war will last anywhere from five years to a few more decades. Obama tells us the U.S. has to fight this war so that the Taliban and al Qaeda cannot retake control of the country.
But since our invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban has increased in popularity because U.S. attacks enflame Afghanis against the U.S. and is driving many reluctantly into the arms of the Taliban.
“With regret,” a Russian official said in September 2001, trying to warn the U.S. of what lay ahead should we invade Afghanistan, “I have to say that you’re really going to get the hell kicked out of you.”
Cofer Black, Director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorist Center, responded: “We’re going to kill them,” he said. “We’re going to put their heads on sticks. We’re going to rock their world.” [Bush at War by Bob Woodward, p. 103]
This is the attitude that got the United States into this war. This is the attitude that invaders and occupiers of Afghanistan have always had before they end up withdrawing years later in shame and defeat.
Many of those who the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan were brought into being by American support of reactionary fundamentalist forces when the USSR was the invader. … [For more on this history , see Consortiumnews.com’s “Why Afghanistan Really Fell Apart.”]
9/11 was blowback for that and this war upon Afghanistan is perpetuating a cycle of violence and sowing the seeds of more 9/11’s, more terrorism, and more wars.
The view that the U.S. can win the hearts and minds of the people by killing more Afghans cannot and will not win this war.
October 6 is a National Day of Resistance, intended to deliver a powerful message to the world that day that the American people will no longer allow their government to commit war crimes in Afghanistan.
Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and co-editor with Peter Phillips of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. He blogs at Open Salon.
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