Monday July 04, 2022

An end to war?

September 13, 2021

For many years, the United States claimed its mission in Afghanistan improved the lives of Afghan women and children. But essentially, the US war improved the livelihoods of those who designed, manufactured, sold and used weaponry to kill Afghans.

When the United States was winding down its troop surge in 2014 – but not its occupation – military officials undertook what they called “the largest retrograde mission in US military history,” incurring enormous expenses. One estimate suggested the war in Afghanistan, that year, was costing $2 million per US soldier. That same year, Unicef officials calculated that the cost of adding iodized salt into the diet of an Afghan infant – helping to prevent chronic brain damage in children suffering from acute malnourishment – would be 5 cents per child per year.

Which endeavor would the majority of US people have opted to support, in their personal budgets, had they ever been given a choice? Profligate US military spending in Afghanistan or vital assistance for a starving Afghan child?

One of my young Afghan friends says he is now an anarchist. He doesn’t place much trust in governments and militaries. He feels strong allegiance toward the grassroots network he has helped build, a group I would normally name and celebrate, but must now refer to as ‘our young friends in Afghanistan’, in hopes of protecting them from hostile groups.

The brave and passionate dedication they showed as they worked tirelessly to share resources, care for the environment, and practice nonviolence has made them quite vulnerable to potential accusers who may believe they were too connected with westerners.

In recent weeks, I’ve been part of an ad hoc team assisting 60 young people and their family members who feel alarmed about remaining in Kabul and are sorting out their options to flee the country.

It’s difficult to forecast how Taliban rule will affect them.

Already, some extraordinarily brave people have held protests in the provinces of Herat, Nimroz, Balkh and Farah, and in the city of Kabul, where dozens of women took to the streets to demand representation in the new government and to insist that their rights must be protected.

In many provinces in Afghanistan, the Taliban may find themselves ruling over increasingly resentful people. Half the population already lives in poverty and economic catastrophe looms. In damage caused by war, people have lost harvests, homes and livestock.

Excerpted: ‘20 Years After 9/11, Reparations for Afghanistan and an End to War’