Eleven Years in Afghanistan

From the October 2012 PNL #818

compiled by Saptarshi Lahiri

Editor’s note: Approaching the beginning of its 12th year, the war in Afghanistan is the longest in US history. The war is increasingly unpopular at home: a CBS News poll this March showed that just 23% of people in the US believe our military is doing the right thing by staying in Afghanistan. Yet, the war continues until at least 2014, and the US has struck a deal that keeps military in the country even after the set withdrawal date. We hope the following excerpts from a variety of voices help to fuel further action to stop the war in Afghanistan now.

“This Oct 7th marks the 11th anniversary of the US/NATO led War and Occupation of Afghanistan. In these 11 years we’ve seen the US and its allies burn hundreds of copies of the holy Quran, urinate on the bodies of dead Afghans, and the CIA torture people to death. All of this happened with zero accountability and complete impunity. This has been proven by the US Justice Deptartment’s recent decision to not prosecute. The US military has shown its racism with “Kill Teams” who ran around killing civilians for sport and then collected body parts as trophies. In a particularly heinous so-called “incident,” a soldier by the name of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went house to house in several villages stalking and murdering men, women and children and attempted to destroy the evidence by burning the bodies. The US was quick to say this was isolated and that the attacker acted alone. The official Afghan investigation however, determined that up to 20 US military personnel were involved. Sgt. Bales was brought back to the US almost immediately, and no Afghan official was ever allowed to interview him. The list of atrocities could go on forever. This is the justice that the US and NATO have given us with their occupation.”

- Afghans for Peace

“Meanwhile, in 2010, a report by the International Council on Security and Development indicated 92 percent of Afghans were not aware of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Four in 10 Afghans believed United States and NATO forces were in Afghanistan to occupy the country or destroy Islam.”

- Ed Krayewski, “Reason”

“We have sanitized war. It is kept at a distance, hardly more real than a video game. The shopping continues (although less of late). When a milestone is reached —2,000 dead—attention flickers up.
“But otherwise the war seems far away unless you are from a military family. Pilotless drones do ever more of the killing. The thing about robotic warfare is you can watch Afghans get vaporized on a screen near Las Vegas and then drive home for dinner with the kids.”

- Roger Cohen, “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” New York Times

“Whatever the individual insults Afghans feel, the deeper insult almost 11 years after the US military, crony corporations, hire-a-gun outfits, contractors, advisers, and aid types arrived on the scene en masse with all their money, equipment, and promises is that things are going truly badly…(P)lumb the mystery all you want, our Afghan allies couldn’t be clearer as a collective group. They are sick of foreign occupying armies, even when, in some cases, they may have no sympathy for the Taliban. This should be a situation in which no translators are needed. The “insult” to Afghan ways is, after all, large indeed and should be easy enough for Americans to grasp. Just try to reverse the situation with Chinese, Russian, or Iranian armies heavily garrisoning the US, supporting political candidates, and trying to stand us up for more than a decade, and it may be easier to understand. Americans, after all, blow people away regularly over far less than that.

“And keep in mind as well what history does tell us: that the Afghans have quite a record of getting disgusted with occupying armies and blowing them away. After all, they managed to eject the militaries of two of the most powerful empires of their moments, the British in the 1840s and the Russians in the 1980s. Why not a third great empire as well?”

-Tom Dispatch, “Losing It in Washington”