Aug 25, 2003
On August 20, a U.S. soldier was killed in southern Afghanistan during an attack on U.S. troops. Another U.S. soldier was wounded in the same region when a bomb exploded near him.
Once in a while, especially when Americans are killed or wounded, news reports remind us about Afghanistan. But most of the people who have been dying in this war started by the U.S. are Afghans, without getting the same kind of attention from the U.S. media. The death toll of the past two weeks, for example, was over 100.
Obviously, the war in Afghanistan, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared to be over about four months ago, is still going on. In fact, it seems to be escalating. Despite the presence of 11,500 troops of the U.S.-led coalition, guerrilla-type attacks by the ousted Taliban, as well as other warlords hostile to the U.S.-sponsored government of Hamid Karzai, have become bolder and more frequent. On August 17, for example, about 400 fighters in trucks raided a police station in southern Afghanistan; nine policemen were killed, the rest fled.
Opponents of the regime are not the only ones fighting. In the southern province of Uruzgan, for example, 20 fighters were killed on August 13 in clashes between the troops of two warlords, both of them allied with Karzai. In fact, Karzai's government controls not much more than its compound in Kabul. In the rest of the country, where coalition troops don't venture much, several warlords run their own territories.
These warlords, who today are the U.S.'s allies in Afghanistan, are no less reactionary and oppressive than the Taliban. Despite Bush's claims of "liberating the Afghan women," in general women are still not able to work or go to school in Afghanistan. Any move in the opposite direction is immediately attacked. On August 22, for example, a girls' school was burnt down just south of Kabul.
Practically in every aspect, the country is even worse off today than it was before the U.S. ousted the Taliban government nearly two years ago. After a ban by the Taliban which had effectively stopped opium cultivation, Afghanistan has once again become one of the major producers of opium in the world, with U.S.-sponsored warlords doing the trafficking. Chaos and violence reign in large parts of the country. The U.N. has suspended its humanitarian aid trips in southern Afghanistan after an increased number of attacks, including the killing of three aid workers in the past two weeks. More than half of the over five million Afghan refugees in neighboring countries have still not returned to Afghanistan. Most of those who return can't go back to their homes or find jobs. For the majority of the Afghan population, there are simply no jobs.
Like the people of Iraq, the people of Afghanistan are unfortunately finding out what George Bush's promise of "peace and freedom" really means: more war and violence, more chaos and more poverty.