The United States Air Force has just bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 19 people, and wounding 37 others. Three of the dead are children, 12 are staff members of the hospital. (Some eye-witnesses say that The Taliban were using the hospital as cover. Never-the-less, what the world sees is, once again, is the faceless, heartless Americans killing innocent people).
So, the question is (at least for me): Why are we still in Afghanistan?
Some random thoughts and comments…
It’s been thirteen years since the United States first invaded Afghanistan. We all know the history and most of the politics behind the invasion. Thirteen years—three times as long as our involvement in World War Two.
This invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, just like the war in Iraq (another great moral, personal, financial and military disaster) was planned and carried out without a declaration of war—without the most basic requirements of the democratic involvement of the American people or its representatives.
These wars, just like all the other current American incursions, bombings, and occupations, are Imperial Wars—conceived and implemented by a few dozen men and women who own and run our government and military. These wars have nothing to do with the original conception, the founding documents and the long-time practices of American democracy.
The US has spent or given away or just plain lost trillions of dollars that we really didn’t have in the first place. We’ve used money which was, in effect, borrowed from the Chinese and the Saudis to finance this invasion and occupation.
Our country is, essentially, broke. The Federal and State and most city governments live on fantasy money—on debt.
Roads, bridges, tunnels, water and power and sewage systems are antique or just broken down completely. States and cities have laid off teachers, firefighters and police; hospitals are falling apart or closed down. Pensions are reduced or eliminated, social security and Medicare are threatened and the cost of living, combined with out-of-control corruption and greed at the “top” (actually the moral bottom) of our society, has rendered what used to be a middle class style of living almost untenable.
And yet, there we are, still in Afghanistan, twelve thousand miles from the scene of our own massive, internal decay, strafing and bombing, either with manned jets or drones… inevitably killing and mutilating, along with some of The Taliban, innocent civilians and people from charitable service organizations who have traveled half-way across the world to save other people’s lives.
The Taliban—despite all of the trillions of dollars the United States government has spent on troops and fighting and weapons and armaments, in “training” the Afghan police and military forces, and in setting up and trying to bolster a “democratic” form of government in Afghanistan—The Taliban is stronger now than they have been in years. They have recently attacked and occupied Kunduz, a city in the northern part of the country and they are threatening other towns and cities in various parts of the country.
It was obvious to everyone many years ago that as soon as the United States withdrew its forces and other military support from the current government, the Taliban would have no trouble re-taking the whole country. They are in the process of doing that right now.
How many innocent people, including hundreds of children, has the United States murdered in Afghanistan? Whichever bureaucratic or military asshole who invented the phrase “collateral damage” should be hiding in a hole underground or convicted of conspiracy to criminally pervert the English language.
The Taliban are medieval brutes; bigots, murderers, child molesters and abusers of women. The first things they’ve done upon entering Kunduz are the first things they will do when they inevitably retake the entire country. They loot and murder—they track down and kill anyone (and their family) who have had any—even tangential— connection with the police, military or government organizations that were set up after the US invaded. And, among their other immediate priorities, they arrested, or attempted to arrest anybody who was involved in setting up and maintaining schools that tried to teach women and girls or who was involved in setting up and maintaining shelters for abused women.
If there really was a hell, the Taliban should all burning in it right now—but the only hell we’re seeing is what they are inflicting and will continue to inflict in Afghanistan in the here and now.
(as a matter of information and balance, there have many stories—some fairly recent—of the US military ordering its forces to ignore our some of our “allies’” habit of keeping local boys in its territory as sex slaves. This is, apparently, in some places in Afghanistan, an old tradition).
After the US invaded and occupied most of the country, elections were held, forms of democracy were set up to run the country (though the government’s power never extended much beyond Kabul city limits), NGOs were able to build and maintain clinics, schools, shelters and hospitals. It was an unimaginable relief to beleaguered members of an ancient, brutal, paternal culture.
In Afghanistan—absent whatever shelter and protection the US military (or the threat of its force) can provide—you have the choice of living under the brutal rule of some feudal warlord or The Taliban.
To keep this from happening—really, reverting to way things always were in that country—the US would have to maintain a force of 1 million troops on the ground and to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on maintaining this force. This is not going to happen. And the existing US outposts and fortified areas and occasional bombing will never really change things.
So here we are—once again “accidentally” murdering innocent human beings. Leaders around the world are denouncing the US, in-depth investigations are promised by the US government and military. Blah, blah, blah.
What most common people suffer in Afghanistan—what they have suffered historically and will continue to suffer living in such a backward, brutal place—is terrible. Anybody with a heart and conscience would want to change this.
But we can’t change it.
So the question remains: Why are we still in Afghanistan?