“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Jan 3, 2022
Afghanistan, already impoverished by 20 years of U.S. occupation, is going through "one of the worst economic meltdowns in history," according to the Financial Times. Basic commerce has ground to a halt. Food and fuel prices have skyrocketed. According to the U.N., more than half the Afghan population is enduring extreme hunger, and at least a million children under the age of 5 are facing the immediate threat of starvation.
This economic meltdown is a direct consequence of U.S. sanctions. According to the sanction rules, even paying any kind of tax, permit fee, or import duty to the Afghan government might count as a violation, and the U.S. threatens any organization that does so with steep fines and criminal penalties. So, the international banking system has cut off all fund transfers to or from Afghanistan. All business between Afghanistan and the outside world has thus been effectively cut off.
On top of this, the U.S. has frozen nearly 10 billion dollars in Afghan government money. Payments to doctors, police, and other government workers stopped. Hospitals cannot buy medicine. Even a printing press in Poland that made Afghanistan’s currency could not deliver its shipment.
The Biden Administration defends these policies by pointing to sanction exemptions that supposedly allow humanitarian aid. But the exceptions don’t allow the Afghan economy to resume operating on even the most basic level, and humanitarian aid is not nearly enough, as the entire economy collapses and the starvation accelerates.
It is possible that more people will die from these policies than from 20 years of war. But the outright starvation they cause is not likely to undermine the Taliban regime in the slightest. All it does is punish a population which had already endured decades of U.S.-wrought destruction.