Statement on the U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan - Green Party of the United States
The Green Party of the United States deplores the waste of lives and treasure involved in America’s longest overseas war. Nearly 200,000 Afghans dead, almost 2,500 U.S. servicemen and women killed, trillions of dollars in American taxpayers’ money and twenty years of lost opportunities for building a more equitable and just society at home – all for nothing. Predictably, the mainstream media is having a field day with the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan over the past week, but there’s one fact you’ll never, ever hear from them. The Green Party of the United States, back in 2001, got it right: we said no to war.
The twenty-year conflict should be called “The Big Lie.” One of the most outrageous falsehoods the government and its media allies have constantly peddled is the American government is the arch-enemy of terrorism. Yet from 1979 to 1989, the CIA’s Cold War project Operation Cyclone armed and funded the Mujahideen to overthrow the Afghan government and, later, to also drive out the USSR military intervention. Many members of the Mujahideen, a predominantly fundamentalist movement, would later join the Taliban. The U.S. Government later provided $43 million to the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan government as part of the "War on Drugs": Robert Scheer wrote about it four months before 9/11 happened. To the U.S. military, terrorism is a good thing – as long as its targets are Washington’s perceived enemies.
Another lie is that the U.S. government has been a stalwart defender of human rights, when in fact it has consistently violated human rights, both by instigating a war of aggression in the first place and by its actions throughout the occupation. We know it was a war of aggression in the case of Afghanistan because, before the first bombs fell, the Taliban offered to turn Osama bin Laden over to the U.S. if Washington provided proof of his involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Although the U.S. government provided this proof to other NATO countries, it refused to give it to the Taliban. Even after the bombing started, the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden to a third country for trial. President Bush “sternly” rejected this offer, and so what should have been the prosecution of a criminal matter led to war, occupation and innumerable deaths, including civilians slaughtered at weddings and other public celebrations.
One of the worst atrocities of all was the horrendous bombing by a U.S. gunship, in the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz in October 2015, of a trauma center run by the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders. In this unprovoked attack – a war crime – a total of 42 doctors, staff members and patients were killed and dozens injured. The U.S. military, after initially claiming the Afghan army had requested the airstrike, suddenly changed its story, falsely blaming the attack on multiple leadership and communications failures, even though the hospital gave the coalition its location only a few days before.
One of the main pretexts for the war that the government has constantly cited is that the U.S. presence was necessary to defend Afghan civilians, particularly women and girls, from the misogynistic, tyrannical Taliban. Putting aside the fact that it was for Afghanistan’s rich resources (as even the mainstream media sometimes admits), rather than to “save” Afghan women, that the U.S. government chose to invade in the first place, there’s no question that for some women, particularly those in cities, life under U.S. occupation was somewhat safer than it had been under Taliban rule. However, gains for women during the last twenty years were consistently and wildly exaggerated. In 2011 – the midpoint of the occupation – a poll of over 200 human rights workers revealed Afghanistan was still the worst place in the world to be a woman. At that time (as cited in the same article), 87 percent of Afghan women were still illiterate, and more women faced the risk of violence than anywhere else on earth, including threats for going to work or school, rape, domestic violence, “honor” killings and child marriages at a rate of 70 to 80 percent of the young female population.
Throughout the war, the U.S. military consistently turned a blind eye to Afghan officials and warlords who sexually abused civilians, including underage girls and boys – and the military punished those in its ranks who acted or spoke out against the abusers. Nor was the U.S.-supported Afghan government of any help. In a number of cases, when young women, citing a 2009 law outlawing violence against women, brought charges against Afghan men who raped them, the victims were forced by mediators to marry their rapists.
Finally, a direct result of the twenty-year war and the overall “War on Terror” that the conflict sparked has been an unprecedented erosion of civil liberties here at home. Before 9/11, most Americans would never have dreamt they would ever be subject to 24/7 surveillance by their government, something that previously only internal spying agencies of overtly autocratic governments, like the East German Stasi, had been accused of doing. But after the revelations of Edward Snowden – who said the NSA “are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them” – we discovered such surveillance was not only possible, but an accomplished fact.
The war was a bipartisan project. Only one person of either mainstream party in both houses of Congress, U.S. House Representative Barbara Lee, voted against the original authorization for war. (Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders both voted with the rest, in favor of it.) If Green Party politicians had been in Congress at that time, there would have been an entire party standing for peace and against the invasion, rather than just a single dissenting figure within one of the two War Parties.
“We are the only party that advocates non-violence as a core value, in our Ten Key Values, enumerated in our platform,” said Edwin DeJesus, Green Party candidate for New York City Council. “This means that the Greens are fully committed to finding creative ways to resolve international conflicts peacefully. It also means Green politicians, unlike both Republicans and Democrats, are not in the pockets of military contractors like Raytheon – the only real winners of this war – because we refuse all campaign contributions from them, or from corporate donors of any kind.”
The most frightening aspect of the events of the past week is the U.S. government has learned nothing from this disaster. In recent years, the Pentagon has been clearly planning to go to war eventually with Iran, with North Korea, or even with China or Russia (or both together) – this, despite the fact that the most clear-cut victory the American military achieved in the last hundred years was at the end of World War II. After the defeat in Afghanistan, such irresponsible talk will surely not only continue, but will likely increase in volume and aggression. In such an insane political culture, a party that consistently advocates for peace – for sanity and humanity – is absolutely necessary.
Most importantly, the American people need a party that will put human needs, not corporate profits, first. Over the past twenty years, while the American political establishment has obsessed over external foes like the Taliban, the greatest threat to human life and civilization, climate change, has been allowed to proceed unchecked. Our survival depends on disrupting the rule of institutions like the Democratic and Republican parties, which have proven time and again they can’t be trusted. It depends, above all, on a total paradigm shift that values the health and integrity of communities over the will of wealthy and powerful individuals.
It’s time for the Green Party.