[R-G] 'Troop surge can only magnify crime against Afghanistan' - Malalai Joya
shniad at gmail.com
Mon Nov 30 15:31:29 MST 2009
30 November 2009
*A troop surge can only magnify the crime against Afghanistan
If Barack Obama heralds an escalation of the war, he will betray his own
message of hope and deepen my people's pain. What kind of "peace" prize can
be awarded to a leader who continues the occupations of Iraq and
Afghanistan, and starts a new war in Pakistan, all while supporting Israel?*
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 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 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
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
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 "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 second most
corrupt in the world. The UN Development Programme reports Afghanistan is
second last – 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 "peace" prize can be
awarded to a leader who continues the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan,
and starts 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 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
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, 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 – but Obama chose not to.
Unfortunately, the UK government shamefully follows the path of the US in
Afghanistan. Even though opinion polls show that more than 70% of the
population is against the war, 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
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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