Monday, August 10, 2009

Afghanistan: the “Dumb War”

By Elsadig Elsheikh, Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute

In Chicago, Illinois, on October 2nd, 2002, then Senator Barack Obama criticized the war in Iraq, rightly deeming it as a “dumb war.” Today, the Obama administration – in cahoots with most Western countries under the NATO umbrella – is selling the war in Afghanistan as a “good war” based on reason and principle not on politics, a necessary operation at the frontier of the “war on terror” or simply a matter of “national security” matter. Nevertheless, delivering the war in Afghanistan in an “eloquent” package does not make it a “good war.” It is immoral to propagandize that terrorizing and killing of civilians as anything other than what it is: a military occupation and expansionist war against the people of Afghanistan which most likely will bear unsightly fruits, as was the experience of the “freedom fighters.”

Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by the U.S. and NATO troops. A United Nations report published last month indicated that at least 1,013 civilians were killed from January to end of June of this year, and around 235,000 currently displaced. Furthermore, historian Tariq Ali observed that “the number of Afghan civilians killed has exceeded many tens of times over the 2,746 who died in Manhattan”. Additionally, the invasion and war instituted – as Ali precisely called it – a “colonial operations in the region” due to its illegitimacy and cruelty against a country and population who have been tormented enormously by foreign invasions and interventions in the name of fighting an “evil”. However, other studies have put the number of civilian causalities even higher (please see Afghan Tragedy).

The “war on terror” has led to increased U.S. involvement in the geopolitics of the region: from Georgia to Kyrgyzstan, and from Tajikistan to Pakistan. However, the latter has been treated as the battleground to conduct that war. Since 9/11, the United States has provided Pakistan with $11 billion military aid to support the Pakistani Army, which has obstructed democracy and the rule of law (it’s worth noticing that prior to 9/11, Pakistan had received only $ 9.1 million). Consequently, U.S. involvement in Pakistan increases the radicalization of diverse Islamist groups and the Talibanization of rural Pakistan.

The war in Afghanistan should not have the support of the American people because of what it really is: a malicious military occupation that – besides bringing immense destruction upon the Afghani people – hinders all possibilities for a real democratization, social change, sustainable development, and eliminating narco-traffic. As was the case in Iraq, the solution to Afghanistan’s troubles is political, and can’t be resolved through military occupation.


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