Biden pledges to end 'forever war' in Afghanistan

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

U.S. soldiers in a firefight with Taliban forces in Kunar province, Afghanistan, March 31, 2011. Image credit: Cameron Boyd/ The U.S. Army/Flickr

U.S. President Biden announced a complete troop withdrawal from what he called the "forever war" in Afghanistan, by September 11. "Only the Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country," Biden said from the same room in the White House where President George W. Bush announced the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001. In the two decades since, over 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed, along with 45,000 members of the Afghan army and police and at least 3,500 U.S. and coalition troops.

Zaher Wahab knows well the impact of the invasion and occupation on his home country of Afghanistan. Wahab, a professor of education for decades, splits his time between the U.S. and Afghanistan. Since the 2001 invasion, he's been helping rebuild Afghanistan's shattered education system. "This invasion, occupation and bloodshed have destroyed the country, its economy, its institutions, its infrastructure, its education, its way of life, the relationships among the different ethnic groups," Wahab said on the Democracy Now! news hour. "This occupation has been nothing short of a catastrophe."

Wahab continued, "The United States and its allies should never have attacked and occupied Afghanistan. It was wrong. It was illegal…the war may end for the United States, but it will intensify for Afghanistan. That is why we need a UN peacekeeping force immediately."

There are no plans yet for UN peacekeepers, and a central demand of the Taliban in the ongoing peace negotiations is a complete withdrawal of foreign forces, by May 1, the date set by president Trump. Biden's delayed troop withdrawal may start then, but will it be as complete as promised?

"It doesn't include the thousands who are part of U.S. special operation and NATO special operation teams, CIA teams, as well as the dozens of squadrons of attack aircraft and bombers, whether they be manned or drone, that are in the area," Matthew Hoh said on Democracy Now! Hoh, a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy, was a marine in the occupation of Iraq, followed by a State Department position in Afghanistan. He resigned in 2009 in protest of president Obama's escalation of the war. "The potential for the United States to remain involved militarily is quite high, even if all 3,500 acknowledged U.S. troops are withdrawn, as well as the NATO troops."

Hoh continued, on Democracy Now!, "The devastation on the Afghan people is hard to imagine…there have been millions and millions of refugees. Seventy per centof Afghans subsist on a dollar a day. There is no industry in Afghanistan to speak of."

The most recent estimate of the financial cost to the U.S. of the war in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, from Brown University's Cost of War project, is $2.3 trillion -- which could have built a lot of infrastructure, in Afghanistan and in the United States. Instead, the U.S. bought weapons, built soon-to-be-abandoned bases, and endlessly cycled troops through repeated deployments. Care for injured veterans and debt on the money borrowed to wage war will continue to cost U.S. taxpayers for decades to come. This doesn't count the billions spent arming the Afghan mujahideen to fight the invading Soviet army during the 1980s -- arms and training turned against the United States and its allies decades later.

On September 14, 2001, days after the Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S., Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland spoke on the House floor, opposing military action against Afghanistan. "Let us not become the evil we deplore," she said, before casting the lone vote against the Authorization for Use of Military Force (or AUMF, which remains in effect to this day). This week, Lee applauded Biden's announced troop withdrawal, adding, "This is the result of decades of hard work by activists, advocates, and members of Congress committed to ending our forever wars…We must utilize this momentum to rein in executive war powers…and put that power back in the hands of Congress and the people."

Lee is also leading a group of 50 House members who sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to slash the Pentagon budget. "As we face a global pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, the needs of American families far outweigh the need to continue feeding our bloated military defence budget," she said in a statement.

Ending the war in Afghanistan should be a beginning, accompanied immediately by reparations to the Afghan people. Biden should also end U.S. military interventions elsewhere, starting with Iraq, and cut the military budget. After decades of war, let's give peace a chance.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations. She is the co-author, with Denis Moynihan, of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times bestseller. This column originally appeared on Democracy Now!

Image credit: Cameron Boyd/ The U.S. Army/Flickr

Related Items

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.