( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Too often I hear people speak of Afghanistan as if the war we are waging there is totally legitimate and beyond question. Even Barack Obama has fallen into this trap. Since the invasion of Afghanistan could be justified as hot pursuit of those who attacked us on 9/11, 2001, many continue to consider it justified seven long years later. Nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion.
Bin Laden is long gone. We gave up on him. He slipped away, along with the last of our justifications, at Tora Bora, where Bush allowed him to escape by making the illegal and bone-headed invasion of Iraq our priority.
At this point we are simply conducting yet another brutal occupation – that and bombing wedding parties. The war in Afghanistan is now about as big a mess as the war in Iraq. (h/t to therealcervantes)
I think we have this whole war business wrong. My problem is with militarism, not the military.
Specifically, my problem is with the notion of war as business – and that includes armaments. And that’s all we’re up to these days in Afghanistan. It’s war for war’s sake. It all comes down to war profiteering, and that’s a hell of a way for an honorable nation to behave. It should be illegal to manufacture and market weaponry for profit. Producing weaponry should be the function of government and should be constrained to actual needs. The international armaments trade should be made illegal (IMO).
The military industrial complex, as tiresome as that phrase may be, is a very real phenomenon and has been the downfall of our nation. Instead of simply maintaining a military for self-defense, we have created a ravenous war machine that thrives on war and demands it. We have started bogus wars all over the planet causing the violent deaths of millions upon millions of innocent people. This is nothing to be proud of. We are the biggest bullies on the planet, and rather than feeding and housing our own people, we choose to pour our treasure and the blood of our youth down the black hole of war – all so that filthy rich assholes can get even richer. That’s the only reason. It is a machine that craves war, must have it, and corrupts or destroys anything that stands in the way of war for war’s sake. It is inhuman.
This is not to blame the military – the military is just a tool, one that is misused much more often than not. Just ask a true military hero, General Smedley Darlington Butler.
Howard Zinn: On The Stupidity Of War
Let’s think about the Taliban for a minute. What’s so bad about these guys? First thing that leaps to mind is that they sheltered bin Laden, the second is that they are backwards fundamentalists who destroyed precious Buddhist art and mistreat the hell out of the women among them. All true, but bin Laden was a famous Islamic hero in Afghanistan for years prior to 9/11. Is it surprising that their first instinct would be to protect him when we came demanding his head? As for the backwards part, you can’t cure ignorance with bombs and guns. You can only do that with education and peace.
I recently accompanied my son Daniel to a lecture at his school by a guy named Greg Mortenson whose mission in life is to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His presentation was very moving.
He spoke of how he has managed to be successful in the remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan where people like those who make up the Taliban are the local population. By respecting their culture and starting where they are at, he has been able to have fatwas lifted and cooperation granted in building schools for girls in the wildest parts of that region. He explained that when you educate the girls, you educate the village. More of this is what is desperately needed.
What is the Power of a Penny?
The penny, 1% of a dollar, is symbolic of the ‘1% of Gross Domestic Product’ goal set by the United Nations. The goal was for wealthy countries to give foreign aid to impoverished nations each year.
Pennies for Peace teaches children the rewards of sharing and working together to bring hope and educational opportunities to children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A penny in the United States is virtually worthless, but in Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny buys a pencil and opens the door to literacy.
The mission of Central Asia Institute (CAI) focuses on community-based education, especially for girls. A 5th grade education for girls improves not only the basic indices of health for her and her family, she will also spread the value of education within her community. Literacy, for both boys and girls, provides better economic opportunities in the future and neutralizes the power of despot mullahs and other extremist leaders.
Greg Mortenson is a guy who has the right idea about how we can help Afghanistan. He and his daughter started Pennies for Peace.
In my opinion, we need to withdraw our troops and begin to very seriously wage peace in Afghanistan with Greg Mortenson’s work as a model.
The Case for U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan
1 – Withdrawing troops. International law is clear on this subject. No country may occupy another indefinitely and certainly not without the will of the people being occupied. If an Obama administration truly thinks that withdrawing U.S. and NATO troops would be a bad thing for Afghans, hold a referendum to see who would like the troops to remain.
2 – Working with the various Afghan factions to begin negotiations. Wars are rarely stopped on the battlefield, and those that are have a tendency to break out again after a few years. The recent history of Afghanistan illustrates this point. It’s better by far for enemies and friends, Pashtun, Tajik, and others to settle differences through negotiation based on mutual respect and the rule of law.
3 – Once stability and security are guaranteed in Afghanistan, beginning the attack on fundamentalism in earnest. Working to incorporate Afghanistan into the international human rights framework through enforcing UN measures which Afghanistan has already ratified, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is one step that can be taken in this regard. Another is major investment in social infrastructure and particularly health and education measures which will ultimately help Afghanistan recover from being bombed “into the stone age.”
Education is the answer – not war. Imagine if we spent as much on education.