Many in the antiwar movement ardently opposed the war in Iraq while remaining silent about an equally immoral war in Afghanistan.
October 20, 2009
EIGHT YEARS into the war on Afghanistan--and with no end in sight--seems a peculiar time for antiwar activists to claim that U.S. forces need to stay there even longer for the sake of the Afghan people.
Yet Yifat Susskind, communications director for the human rights organization MADRE, recently argued on CommonDreams.org, "'Bring the Troops Home' is a bumper sticker, not a policy." She continued, "For MADRE, U.S. obligations stem from the fact that Afghanistan's poverty, violence against women and political corruption are, in part, results of U.S. policy over the past 30 years."
Code Pink cofounders Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans began arguing for a "responsible withdrawal" after their recent visit to Afghanistan, which focused on discovering Afghan women's attitudes toward the U.S. occupation. While there, they met with a handpicked group of politically connected Afghan women that included President Hamid Karzai's sister-in-law, Wazhma Karzai.
According to Code Pink, many of these members of parliament and businesswomen opposed sending an additional 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, but also said they rely on U.S. troops for their own personal safety.
On October 6, the Christian Science Monitor published an interview with Benjamin and reported on her change of heart, based on conversations with some of the women she met in Kabul. For example, CSM reported, "Shinkai Karokhail, an Afghan member of parliament and woman activist, told them. 'International troop presence here is a guarantee for my safety.'"
Benjamin claimed she was misrepresented in the Christian Science Monitor. Yet Benjamin herself said in a recent interview:
[W]e certainly did hear some people say that they felt if the U.S. pulled out right now, there would be a collapse, and the Taliban might take over, there might be a civil war. But we also heard a lot of people say they didn't want more troops to be sent in, and they wanted the U.S. to have a responsible exit strategy that included the training of Afghan troops, included being part of promoting a real reconciliation process and included economic development; that the United States shouldn't be allowed to just walk away from the problem. So that's really our position.
This reasoning assumes, of course, that the U.S. is capable of behaving responsibly toward the Afghan people. It is not.