After years of silence in the US media and public about Afghanistan, suddenly attention is back on the violence created by imperialist occupation. The process of US withdrawal from the country it has spent over 20 years occupying is spectacularly awful–both brutal and predictable.
War profiteering corporations and their investors—from Lockheed Martin to BlackRock and companies most of us have never heard of whose executives are former Pentagon and military brass—will use this as an argument for maintaining occupations indefinitely. This moment in history will be recited by hawks as a lesson that the US military is the global thin blue line that protects “democracy” and “freedom” from “savagery.” They will rehash arguments meant to appeal to liberal feminists, using the racist sexist lie that only the US military can protect Afghan women. This is their story, one that relies on racist and Islamophobic tropes. It’s the same story that was used to launch those wars and sustain them across four presidential administrations.
Yesterday’s awful attack at the Kabul airport, cost dozens of lives, including a least 60 Afghans. The war profiteers will try to spin this further their own interests. Don’t let the same people who designed and waged this war to build obscene wealth off human suffering interpret it for you. Instead, let the images of people falling to their deaths while trying desperately to cling to planes leaving Kabul move you to action. Let the lesson we take from this be that occupations are always unacceptable and extending them doesn’t help.
Below, we share some key resources and principles for solidarity and anti-imperialist resistance in this moment.
*Evacuate, admit, and resettle all Afghan refugees
While the spotlight is narrowly focused on Afghans eligible for the special visas earmarked for those who worked with the US military, we affirm that our responsibility is to all Afghans whose lives and homes were destabilized by the US and by the US-backed Afghan government and militias. Those being targeted by the Taliban include not only interpreters and fixers who worked with US troops, but also human rights activists, queer and trans people, journalists, disabled people, ethnic minorities, women and children.
*Humanitarian aid, not sanctions
Economic warfare is an unacceptable continuation of the US/NATO boot grinding into the country. Launching new sanctions against the Taliban will, as always, come down hardest on the most vulnerable civilians. Women will bear the brunt. The strangulation of sanctions does not help people; not in Iran, North Korea or Cuba, and they won’t help people in Afghanistan. Sanctions are a form of warfare and will provide leverage for groups like the Taliban who can point to the continued attempts at imperial domination by the West. Unconditional humanitarian aid is our responsibility after 20 years of destabilization, occupation, and imposed puppet government.
*From withdrawal to reparations
Withdrawal of troops is the beginning, not the end, of ending the occupation. We must defend the importance of withdrawal while demanding that our elected officials take steps to address harms being done in the process of withdrawal. That begins with receiving all refugees. But it doesn’t end there. Multiple generations of Afghans have endured this war and are paying the costs of intergenerational destruction and trauma. Now we’ve heavily armed the Taliban. We owe financial and material reparations to Afghan civil society. We owe political reparations to progressive human rights defenders in Afghanistan who have been used, targeted, and now hung out to dry by our government.
“We think the inhuman US military empire is not only the enemy of the Afghan people but the biggest threat to world peace and instability. Now that the system is on the verge of decline, it is the duty of all peace-loving, progressive, leftist and justice-loving individuals and groups to intensify their fight against the brutal war-mongers in the White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol Hill. Replacing the rotten system with a just and humane one will not only liberate millions of poor and oppressed American people but will have a lasting effect on every corner of the world.”-The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
*US out of Everywhere
It’s not enough to withdraw from Afghanistan while continuing to wage wars and occupations around the world, through proxy forces and mercenaries as well as “boots on the ground” and drone wars and sanctions. The US military, including the network of nearly a thousand bases and installations encircling the globe, is demonstrably the biggest threat to humankind, and our movements must be firm in opposing militarism and empire in all of its forms.
Attend a Stop Killing Afghans Protest on Saturday, August 28th:
Contact your congress person via the Afghan American Coalition to demand evacuations, humanitarian aid, and admitting ALL Afghan refugees.
Monsters Inc – The Taliban as Empire’s Bogeyman by Sahar Ghumkhor and Anila Daulatzai
Interview with the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)
There’s No Good Way to End a Corrupt War by Garrett Virchick