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The US War/Occupation of Afghanistan is now in its 18th year, and it’s a bipartisan occupation

September 30, 2019

This week it will be 18 years since the US bombed, invaded and occupied Afghanistan. Considered the longest US military action, the US war in Afghanistan is complex, but it should be considered a war crime.

After the September 11, 2001, for many people it became difficult to actively speak out against US foreign policy. There were large gatherings in the Grand Rapids area to morn the dead from 9/11, but there was limited organized public conversation about why the US was attacked on 9/11 and even less so in the local news media.

None of the traditional anti-war groups in Grand Rapids, were willing to criticize the US bombing of Afghanistan until months after the US war/occupation had begun.

However, the group People’s Alliance for Justice & Change, didn’t hesitate to speak out and began forming a plan as to what could be done in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the US intent to wage war on Afghanistan. For a list of actions that were organized in Grand Rapids during late 2001 and part of 2002, go to this post on the Grand Rapids People’s History Project

After September 11, 2001, the US quickly moved to take action to blame someone for the terrorist attack. In October of 2001, the US began bombing Afghanistan, even though Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. It is true that members of Al Qaeda were operating from Afghanistan, but the Afghan government did not want to hand over members of Al Qaeda to the US, instead they wanted them to be handed over to a third party, especially since the US had been deeply involved in attempting to influence the Afghani government since the early 1970s.

What follows are a few main points about what the US war/occupation of Afghanistan has been about and what the consequences have been:

The US is not in Afghanistan to bring Democracy – Since 1979, the US has supported anti-democratic forces such as the Mujahadeen, the Northern Alliance, the Taliban and a variety of individual warlords. Since the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US has also supported subsequent Afghan governments, despite the fact that most of them have been rife with corruption.

The US is not in Afghanistan to protect the rights of Women – The groups of armed men that the US has supported for decades, like the Mujahadeen, are some of the most misogynist groups in that country. Even under the current government of Karzai, a law was passed that essentially legalized the rape of women.  Afghan Women’s groups like RAWA and the Afghan Women’s Mission have made it very clear that if those of us in the US want to support women in Afghanistan then we should work for an end to the US military occupation of their country.

The US is not in Afghanistan to Prevent Terrorism – Many credible members of the US intelligence community have stated in recent years that there is no link between the Taliban and Al Qaida. The Taliban did not attack the US on September 11, 2001. The Taliban are a nationalist group that wants the US out of their country. In fact, we would say that the US occupation of Afghanistan only gives rise to potential acts of terror and feeds a growing anti-American sentiment.

What the US is doing in Afghanistan has more to do with long-term strategic interests. We believe that the US recognizes that Afghanistan is a bridge between the Middle East and Central Asia, that it borders Iran, Pakistan, China and other important countries. We believe that the US sees Afghanistan as playing an important role in the control of future resources in that region, both because it will likely be a major trans-shipment point to move oil and gas in the region, but also because it can act as a US outpost to prevent China, India and Russia from gaining access to the region’s resources.

One major consequence of the US war/occupation of Afghanistan has resulted in a massive increase in opium/heroin production. Drug war scholar and historian Alfred McCoy has written a great deal about the connection between the US occupation of Afghanistan and the increase in opium/heroin production. In addition, the graph below provides visual evidence of the the relationship between increased drug production and the US occupation of Afghanistan.

The US war/occupation of Afghanistan has been a bi-partisan effort. The occupation began under the George W. Bush administration, but the Obama administration escalated the number of US troops. In fact, the Democratic Party has consistently made the argument that Afghanistan is where the US War on Terror should be fought since 9/11.

The human cost of the US war/occupation of Afghanistan has been estimated at 31,000 civilian Afghani deaths, according to a recent piece by long-time Middle East journalist, Robert Fisk. In addition, there is a well documented report that came out within the last two weeks from Brown University, entitled, The Human and Financial Costs of the Explosive Remnants of War in Afghanistan

Lastly, there is the economic cost to the US War on Terror since 2001. The National Priorities Project puts the total economic cost at right around $5 Trillion dollars, which you can follow at this link.  The National Priorities Project also allows you to breakdown how much money leaves each community across the country to pay for US wars. In 2018, $32.66 million left Grand Rapids to pay for US wars. The same site also provides trade-off, meaning what that $32.66 million could have paid for if it stayed in Grand Rapids. One example would be, if the money would have stayed in Grand Rapids it could have provided 71,704 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year.

So, it might be important to ask yourself why does the US Government continue the current war/occupation of Afghanistan? Why are most politicians not addressing it, and why is there no anti-war movement resisting this brutal, criminal war?

Editor’s note: One good source for news and analysis on Afghanistan is the Afghanistan Analysts Network.

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