[News] A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 2 10:49:06 EST 2009



A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan

    * Malalai Joya
    * guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 November 2009 19.00 GMT
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/nov/30/obama-afghanistan-troops

If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war, 
he will betray his own message of hope and deepen my people's pain

After months of waiting, President Obama is about 
to announce the new US strategy for Afghanistan. 
His speech may be long awaited, but few are 
expecting any surprise: it seems clear he will 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/24/barack-obama-us-troops-afghanistan>herald 
a major escalation of the war. In doing so he 
will be making something worse than a mistake. It 
is a continuation of a war crime against the suffering people of my country.

I have said before that 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/25/afghanistan-occupation-taliban-warlords>by 
installing warlords and drug traffickers in power 
in Kabul, the US and Nato have pushed us from the 
frying pan to the fire. Now Obama is pouring fuel 
on these flames, and this week's announcement of 
upwards of 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan will have tragic consequences.

Already this year we have seen the impact of an 
increase in troops occupying Afghanistan: more 
violence, and more civilian deaths. My people, 
the poor of Afghanistan who have known only war 
and the domination of fundamentalism, are today 
squashed between two enemies: the US/Nato 
occupation forces on one hand and warlords and the Taliban on the other.

While we want the withdrawal of one enemy, we 
don't believe it is a matter of choosing between 
two evils. There is an alternative: the 
democratic-minded parties and intellectuals are 
our hope for the future of Afghanistan.

It will not be easy, but if we have a little bit 
of peace we will be better able to fight our own 
internal enemies – Afghans know what to do with 
our destiny. We are not a backward people, and we 
are capable of fighting for democracy, human and 
women's rights in Afghanistan. In fact the only 
way these values will be achieved is if we 
struggle for them and win them ourselves.

After eight years of war, the situation is as bad 
as ever for ordinary Afghans, and women in 
particular. The reality is that only the drug 
traffickers and warlords have been helped under 
this corrupt and illegitimate Karzai government. 
Karzai's promises of reform are laughable. His 
own vice-president is the notorious warlord 
Fahim, whom Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch 
describes as 
"<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/04/afghanistan-president-hamid-karzai-election>one 
of the most notorious warlords in the country, 
with the blood of many Afghans on his hands".

Transparency International reports that this 
regime is the 
<http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2009/cpi_2009_table>second 
most corrupt in the world. The UN Development 
Programme reports Afghanistan is second last – 
<http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2009_EN_Summary.pdf>181st 
out of 182 countries – in terms of human 
development. That is why we no longer want this kind of "help" from the west.

Like many around the world, I am wondering what 
kind of 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/09/barack-obama-nobel-peace-prize1>"peace" 
prize can be awarded to a leader who continues 
the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and 
starts 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/mar/18/obama-pakistan-drones>a 
new war in Pakistan, all while supporting Israel?

Throughout my recent tour of the US, I had the 
chance to meet many military families and 
veterans who are working to put an end to the 
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They understand 
that it is not a case of a "bad war" and a "good 
war" – there is no difference, war is war.

Members of <http://www.ivaw.org/>Iraq Veterans 
Against War even accompanied me to meet members 
of Congress in Washington DC. Together we tried 
to explain the terrible human cost of this war, 
in terms of Afghan, US and Nato lives. 
Unfortunately, only a few representatives really 
offered their support to our struggle for peace.

While the government was not responsive, the 
people of the US did offer me their support. And 
polls confirm that the US public wants peace, 
<http://www.pollster.com/blogs/us_afghanistan_cnn_1030111.php>not 
an escalated war. Many also want Obama to hold 
Bush and his administration to account for war 
crimes. Everywhere I spoke, people responded 
strongly when I said that if Obama really wanted 
peace he would first of all try to prosecute Bush 
and have him tried before the international 
criminal court. Replacing Bush's man in the 
Pentagon, Robert Gates, would have been a good 
start – 
<http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2008/11/obama_keeps_robert_gates_on_at_pentagon_gratifying_conservative_bloggers.html>but 
Obama chose not to.

Unfortunately, the UK government shamefully 
follows the path of the US in Afghanistan. Even 
though opinion polls show that 
<http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/war-in-afghanistan-not-in-our-name-1820949.html>more 
than 70% of the population is against the war, 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/nov/30/britain-500-troops-afghanistan>Gordon 
Brown has announced the deployment of more UK 
troops. It is sad that more taxpayers' money will 
be wasted on this war, while Britain's poor 
continue to suffer from a lack of basic services.

The UK government has also tried to silence 
dissent, for instance by 
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/aug/03/british-army-alleged-deserter-court>arresting 
Joe Glenton, a British soldier who has refused to 
return to Afghanistan. I had a chance to meet 
Glenton when I was in London last summer, and 
together we spoke out against the war. My message 
to him is that, in times of great injustice, it 
is sometimes better to go to jail than be part of committing war crimes.

Facing a difficult choice, Glenton made a 
courageous decision, while Obama and Brown have 
chosen to follow the Bush administration. Instead 
of hope and change, in foreign policy Obama is 
delivering more of the same. But I still have 
hope because, as our history teaches, the people 
of Afghanistan will never accept occupation.




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