Mar 17, 2003
What does the Bush administration have in store for the people of Iraq if the U.S. carries out the war that it has promised so long? In his State of the Union address at the end of January, President Bush claimed that, "As we and our partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food, medicines, and supplies and freedom."
In other words, according to Bush, Afghanistan is something of a model for what the U.S. will do in Iraq.
More than 18 months ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, ousted the Taliban government, and imposed a new government headed by Hamid Karzai. In so doing, according to Bush, the U.S. "helped to liberate an oppressed people."
This official version of history has been generally repeated in the U.S. news media. But here is how London-based Jane's Terrorism & Security Monitor, a report meant for the government and military establishment, described U.S. military operations in its February 24th edition: "U.S. forces have used tactics that are offensive to Afghans. They treated every Afghan with suspicion as if he was a member of Al-Qaeda; they entered houses without permission; they body searched women – a taboo in the Muslim world, especially Afghanistan; and they bombed innocent civilians and arrested and mistreated people, all because of mistaken identity or misinformation. They did not show sensitivity to Afghan culture."
U.S. officials might claim that the purpose of these military operations is to fight various warlords, who ravage the country. But Jane's report gives another story. It says that the U.S. military has restored the power of the warlords in different regions of the country. According to Jane's, "U.S. forces brought the warlords back, arming, financing and guiding them back to their lost thrones. Worse yet, they even created some new ones, the so-called 'American warlords."'
In other words, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has not liberated the Afghan population. It has only imposed an army of occupation in alliance with a whole series of warlords.
U.S. officials also claim that the situation of the Afghani people has begun to improve. In his recent State of the Union, President Bush claimed the U.S. was now helping the people of Afghanistan to "secure their country, build their society and educate their children."
This is another lie. The budget that Bush submitted to Congress immediately after he made these claims did not even include any aid to Afghanistan whatsoever. Not a penny! Only when the news of this came out, did Congress hurriedly insert a few dollars into the U.S. budget for Afghanistan – but that was just to avoid embarrassment.
This means that the U.S. has done nothing either to begin to rebuild the infrastructure it shattered – the roads, schools, hospitals, electric power, water systems, etc. – which Bush had promised to do after he launched the war in Afghanistan. Nor has it even bothered to send in more than a token bit of "humanitarian" aid, such as emergency food, for the tens of millions of people who have been driven from their land and homes by the U.S. invasion and continue to live in refugee camps or hovels around the cities and towns.
In Kabul, the capital, where conditions are better than they are in the rest of the country, the United Nations reports that severe malnutrition of children actually increased from 6% in 2001 to 11% in 2002, the year that the U.S. established its domination over the country.
Just as telling is the policy of the government of the U.S. puppet in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, toward women. After taking office, Karzai's government made a big deal of appointing one woman to his cabinet and of allowing a few women to attend schools. But these were nothing but public relations gestures. The reality is that Karzai's government has neither repealed any of the edicts imposed by the Taliban, nor has it abolished the religious police that are used to enforce those edicts. So, women are still imprisoned in rat-infested cells – often with their children – for such "crimes" as walking out on their husbands, refusing forced marriages or being named as adulterers. And women are still being murdered – or lynched – at the hands of mobs for any of those and other "crimes" with no interference from the Karzai government.
No, for the people of Afghanistan, conditions under the U.S. and its puppet governments and warlord allies, is only a continuation and a worsening of the same oppression, suffering and misery as before.
When the Bush administration follows through on its threats to invade Iraq, the people of that country should expect the same brand of treatment.