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9/11 and the Afghan war

September 11, 2010

This October it will be nine years that the US & NATO troops have been occupying the country of Afghanistan. And like any war of occupation, governments need the support of their citizens in order to do what militaries do during a war of occupation – namely brutalize the local populace and secure access to resources.

The US government has its own propaganda mechanisms to promote its mission in Afghanistan. However, the US government could not be as effective in its prosecution of the war of occupation in Afghanistan without the help of the major news sources around the country.

There is growing domestic opposition to this brutal and costly US occupation and that is despite the fact that the major media have pretty much accepted the Bush/Obama administration’s justification for such a war. Lets look at some of the major arguments that both the US government and US corporate media have presented since the initial bombing/invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001.

It should be noted that even though we are approaching 9 years of the current US occupation in Afghanistan, Afghanis have been suffering under war and occupation for the past 30 years. The US news media has a short memory and doesn’t remind us often enough of the fact that during the 1980s the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, while the US provided billions of dollars in weapons and training to an armed resistance that gave rise to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The Bush administration, along with the support of the Democrats argued that since the Taliban would not turn over al Qaeda operatives in the fall of 2001 that was grounds for an invasion of a country that did not attack the US. Since the removal of the Taliban from power the argue has been that there are still al Qaeda operatives within Afghanistan’s borders and allowing the Taliban to retake control of the country would give more opportunities for the “terrorists” to attack us.

First, the al Qaeda operatives who attacked the US on 9/11, 2001 did not plan it from Afghanistan. Second, most credible sources, including US military officers acknowledge that there is fundamentally no al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan at this time. Third, the Taliban is primarily an indigenous resistance movement that is organized around expelling foreign occupiers, not a rigid ideology.

Another argument put forth by the government and echoed in the major news media is that the US is in Afghanistan to bring democracy. This is probably the longest standing argument by the US government over the past 100 years and is generally unquestioned by the commercial news media. However, since the US has occupied Afghanistan, the two elections that have been held have both resulted in Karzai as President. Both elections were mired in fraud and Karzai’s administration is rife with corruption.

There are more minor arguments used to justify the US occupation of Afghanistan, such as the need to liberate women. This was a strong argument used by the Bush administration, but according to the Afghan Women’s Mission and RAWA (Revolutionary Women of Afghanistan) women are worse off now than they were under the Taliban. Anti-women laws have been entrenched under Karzai and US bombing and military raids have made life for women even more terrifying. The need for US military presence in Afghanistan to protect women was manifested most recently in a cover story in Time magazine, even though the article did not provide the perspective of any organized women’s organization operating inside the country.

Beyond the major policy articles that deal with military strategy, any coverage of US troops in Afghanistan or just returning perpetuate the belief that what the US is doing there is good. Other comments often cited in this context is that the US has to stay and finish the “job,” even though “job” is rarely defined.

During the Bush years there was always at least some token coverage of US opposition to the occupation of Iraq, but this has not happened during the Obama administration. Liberals now are defending the US presence in Afghanistan as necessary, even though there are plenty of progressives and anti-imperialists organizing against the 9-year occupation across the country.

In Grand Rapids, there will be several events to draw attention to the US occupation of Afghanistan. On Sept 30 there will be a benefit concert, followed by a speaker at Calvin on October 8 and an anti-war march on October 9. Don’t let the media complicity in the war fool you. There is a growing opposition to the US war of occupation in Afghanistan.

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