Afghanistan: the wrong war at any time
Published Nov 6, 2008 10:35 PM
For months now Afghanistan has been deadlier for U.S. troops than Iraq, even
though there are 32,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq.
A total of 1,004 foreign soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.
Some 625 of the casualties were from the United States. Forty percent of them
occurred in the past two years. (icasualties.org)
A handful of U.S. special forces in coalition with warlords from the north of
the country overthrew the Taliban government in 2001. The Revolutionary
Association of Women in Afghanistan sums up the event this way: “The U.S.
‘war on terrorism’ removed the Taliban regime in October 2001, but
it has not removed religious fundamentalism which is the main cause of all our
miseries. In fact, by reinstalling the warlords in power in Afghanistan, the
U.S. administration is replacing one fundamentalist regime with another.”
Currently NATO supplies the troops for the UN-mandated International Security
Assistance Force. About 18,000 U.S. troops operate under ISAF control.
Most of the casualties from violence in Afghanistan are civilians. A very rough
and incomplete count from January 2008 by the Afghanistan Independent Human
Rights Commission counted 900 civilian deaths, many of them from attacks on
wedding parties and funerals or children at play. An estimate from the Xinhua
News Agency gives civilian deaths as 1,415. (Sept. 28)
The AIHRC, which was set up by a UN General Assembly mandate and is funded from
a levy on donations flowing through the UN, asserts that 98 percent of civilian
casualties caused by coalition forces in Afghanistan are
The head of the AIHRC, Lal Gul, said in a Sept. 2 report, “The actions of
the coalition forces, especially the American forces, are not only against the
human rights laws, but are considered war crimes.”
In addition to the deaths caused by the violence raging throughout the country,
Afghanistan is facing the threat of famine this winter due to three years of
failed crops. The Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock
estimates that the country needs two million tons of basic food–wheat,
flour and rice–in the next six months to feed people in isolated
Even if the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and other donor
organizations can get tons of food to Afghanistan’s major cities, they
will encounter extreme problems with moving it to the isolated communities
where most of the country’s poor live.
Not only have 40 years of war destroyed Afghanistan’s roads, but the
Afghan resistance attacks supply lines to keep materiel from reaching the U.S.
and NATO outposts that are far from the capital. These two factors have driven
up the cost of moving a truckload of food or goods from Kabul to Khandahar, the
two largest cities in Afghanistan, from $1,800 in the spring to almost 10 times
as much currently. The price increase implies a large increase in risk to the
truckers. (Der Spiegel, Oct. 17)
According to Asian Times Pakistan bureau head Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Taliban
have such accurate intelligence on U.S./NATO shipments to Afghanistan through
the Pakistani port of Karachi that the ISAF made a deal to move nonmilitary
cargo through Russia. (Le Monde Diplomatique, Oct. 2008)
Even though foreign donors–mainly the U.S. and its imperialist European
allies like Britain, Germany and France–have supplied Afghanistan with
$35 billion in “aid” since 2001, around 20 million people out of a
population of 26 million are living under the poverty line based on official
statistics. (BBC, Oct. 17)
According to the FAO, being poor in Afghanistan means living on less than two
U.S. dollars a day. Adult literacy is only 29 percent. In some regions, less
than one percent of the population is literate. One in five children dies
before the age of five.
While the living standards of the Afghan people as a whole are deteriorating
rapidly as the war intensifies between the client government of Hamid Karzai,
propped up by ISAF and the U.S., and its opposition, led by the Taliban, the
Kabul government is also attacking the conditions of women.
“We have the same ideas as the Taliban,” says parliamentarian Qazi
Naseer Ahmad. “We want sharia [Islamic] law in our country. Women must
ask permission from their husbands before they leave the home, and they must
not wear clothes that are against Islam.” (Christian Science Monitor,
The Monitor also wrote that some members of parliament proposed legislation in
April that would ban T-shirts, loud music, women and men mingling in public,
billiards, video games, playing with pigeons and kites, and more. This proposal
would reinstate the regulations from the Taliban era that the U.S. corporate
media publicized in order to justify removing the Taliban with the 2001
Gen. David Petraeus took the helm at Central Command Oct. 31, a step which puts
him in charge of the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq he was
the architect of the surge. He is expected to promote a similar
“surge” in Afghanistan, with a twist that underlines the weak U.S.
position in that country.
Petraeus is open to negotiations with the “moderate” elements of
the Taliban. He recognizes that the U.S. and its allies can’t win
The colonial occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and its imperialist
allies has been a disaster for the Afghan people. Progressives outside
Afghanistan must demand an end to the entire occupation and not allow an
increase of U.S. and NATO troops, even one that accompanies negotiations.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: [email protected]
Subscribe [email protected]
Support independent news DONATE