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What Do Afghans Think of the War? Ask Them!


By davidswanson - Posted on 01 January 2011

By David Swanson

Americans are down to 35% supporting the war on Afghanistan. The trouble is that our government officials, media pundits, and newspaper editors are part of the 35% and feel no particular obligation to represent the rest of us. And they repeat the same nonsensical justifications for the war so often that we imagine they're 90% instead of the 35% they are or the 20% they should be pretty soon if current trends continue. And one of their main arguments is that the war is good for the people of Afghanistan.

But what do Afghans think? Here's a powerful statement followed by the polling data. And here's a way you can ask Afghans yourself what they think: join a live audio call happening until 7 pm ET January 1st. Or just listen to the live stream.

I was just on the call. I listened as Afghans and Americans asked each other about their lives. When it was my turn, I asked these courageous young Afghans how Americans should reply when their countrymen and women claim that the war is good for Afghans. They told me to look at the statistics from the Ministry of Health on the effects of the war, the bombings, the raids. Afghanistan now has the third highest infant mortality and in the past year 3,000 Afghan women and girls suffering from depression committed suicide. The war has made things worse, they told me.

After nine years of billions of dollars in "aid," they said, that money has gone to silence people and to create a culture of dependence among the hungry, and yet poverty is up to 42% now. The International Committee of the Red Cross says that Afghanistan is the worst it's been in 30 years (about as long, I might add, as we've been helping them out). A report from 29 NGOs, they pointed out, called "Nowhere to Turn," found that there seems to be no end in sight to the night raids and arming of militias.

To the argument that the Taliban would be worse, they pointed out that the war is leading many to join and call themselves the Taliban in order to fight the foreigners and are thereby being radicalized. What's not being addressed, they said, are the roots of terrorism: poverty, hate, revenge, anger, and the lack of meaningful relationships between peoples.

They also pointed out that the United States is funding both sides of the war, funneling money to the Taliban through the Pakistani military and through payoffs for safe-passage and by funding warlords.

They asked me what I thought they should do, and I replied that it was not my place to tell Afghans not to resist violently, but that I thought nonviolent resistance would be very powerful and is always underestimated. They told me they were working on it and laid out a Gandhian vision for a transition to peace, reparations, and restorative justice. I found it very encouraging.

Mike Ferner of Veterans for Peace is participating in this 24-hour call-a-thon from Afghanistan, and he Emailed me: "As crazy as it sounds, I'm glad I'm here and I think doing it here added an element for the youth group. I never saw plain old moral support work so well to brighten faces and spirits. These guys are really something."

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With peace as our vision,
Connected all are we,
Let me walk with my family
In perfect harmony.

And one of their main arguments is that the war is good for the people of Afghanistan.

Sick and extremely criminal media SOB's! (Excuse my language; it's accurate, but some readers might find it offensive, a little.)

They told me to look at the statistics from the Ministry of Health on the effects of the war, the bombings, the raids. Afghanistan now has the third highest infant mortality and in the past year 3,000 Afghan women and girls suffering from depression committed suicide. The war has made things worse, they told me.

No doubt about it. We'd need to have our heads examined by honest and competent psychologists if we thought the war did anything other than make things worse for Afghans.

But the 3,000 suicides, while shocking and tragic, is insufficient statistics. Wikipedia says that the 2010 population estimate is roughly 28.4 million. How does 3,000 suicides of "Afghan women and girls suffering from depression" compare to other countries when considering what the rates? The more immediately important and relevant question, however, is how does this 3,000 compare to each of the past 9+ years as well as before the launch of this war in Oct. 2001?

The latter question's answer probably is the only additional data that's needed. If it's known, while under- or un-reported in "news" media, that there's been a serious increase in these suicides because of this war, then prior numbers would be known and providing the more complete statistical picture is helpful in avoiding unfounded criticisms or attacks. But it's also appropriate for simply being better informed. Everyone should be concerned about the 3,000 suicides, but we should also all be concerned about what the actual increase has been or is in these suicides. If there's a real and significant increase in the rate of these suicides because of this war, then the data can and should be used by activists who are against this war, as well as being able to help people who aren't activists and who aren't particularly against the war, yet, but who also don't really support it.

A report from 29 NGOs, they pointed out, called "Nowhere to Turn," found that there seems to be no end in sight to the night raids and arming of militias.

I came across a few articles over the past week about NGOs in Afghanistan reporting that the situation for security definitely has not improved, contrary to the new assessment Obama referred to over the past few weeks or so. These NGOs report that the situation is very bad, very dangerous, and antiwar.com surely had some articles or links about this. The following piece is one example.

"Aid Groups Dismiss US Claims of Afghan War Progress
Situation Actually Getting Dramatically Worse, Note Analysts
"

by Jason Ditz, December 28, 2010

http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/28/aid-groups-dismiss-us-claims-of-afgha...

The article has needed links.

The Obama Administration’s repeated official claims in the past few weeks that the Afghan War has turned some sort of corner and is improving, however slightly, is drawing increased scorn from the aid groups and other NGOs that have to face the actual security situation, as opposed to the reported situation.

“The situation is a lot more insecure this year than it was last year,” noted NGO Safety Office director Nic Lee, adding that “we don’t see COIN has had any impact on the five-year trajectory,” which has been, of course, a precipitous increase in violence coupled with repeated escalations by the US.

But while a number of aid workers are expressing a sentiment that is afoul of the President’s recent public “report” on the war, it is in strong keeping with the Pentagon’s publicly available, but much less publicized, report to Congress that was released just weeks prior.

That report also made vague claims of “progress” early on, but its content was universally negative and painted the picture of a war getting seriously worse and an insurgency getting stronger despite all the efforts against them.

David Swanson's article also says the following.

They asked me what I thought they should do, and I replied that it was not my place to tell Afghans not to resist violently, but that I thought nonviolent resistance would be very powerful and is always underestimated. They told me they were working on it and laid out a Gandhian vision for a transition to peace, reparations, and restorative justice. I found it very encouraging.

That's very good, but I don't think they'll win, and I don't think fighting would help them win, either. That's about winning against the criminal foreign forces. They are already winning in the moral sense; no question or doubt about that. But as for winning against the criminal foreign forces and the real reason for this war, the US and NATO have definite plans and even if they can't conquer Afghanistan, which apparently is almost certain that they can't do or achieve, they will be able to keep the country and region extremely unstable, which western corporations will be able to profit from (big time too), anyway. The US will have added to its encirclement around and encroachment against China and Russia, and western corporations will "win" huge contracts; huge in terms of money anyway. And they'll be able to keep Afghanistan highly unstable and very dangerous.

Morally, however, there's no doubt about it. These Afghan activists are the winners. Of course, the US and NATO don't care about morality and aren't taking part in this "race". It's not even a last resort recourse for them. Their very last recourse will be to withdraw while finding words for claiming victory, anyway.

I'm not an expert, but have read a considerable amount over the past, well, over eight years, now.

"Guantánamo Is “A Piece of Hell That Kills Everything”: A Bleak New Year Message from Yemeni Prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif"

by Andy Worthington, Jan. 1, 2010

www.uruknet.info/?p=m73477

The article has links.

On Christmas Day, I wrote an article reminding readers of the plight of the remaining 174 prisoners in Guantánamo, and specifically focusing on the case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a mentally troubled Yemeni prisoner who has attempted to commit suicide on several occasions. Despite being cleared for release in 2007 by the Bush administration, and winning his habeas corpus petition in the District Court in Washington D.C. in July 2010, Latif remains in Guantánamo, as, distressingly, the Obama administration has chosen to appeal against his successful habeas petition.

Even if the Obama administration had not taken this inexplicable — or deeply cyncial — step, Latif would still be held, because of a moratorium on releasing any Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo, which was issued by President Obama last January after a hysterical response to the news that the failed Christmas Day plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen. This is unforgivable in and of itself, as it consigns the 58 Yemenis "approved for transfer" by the President’s Guantánamo Review Task Force to the status of political prisoners, detained through an unacceptable belief in the collective guilt of the Yemeni people.

With just ten days to go before the 9th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, Latif’s attorney, David Remes, has released an unclassified letter from his client, in which Latif expresses his despair at his abandonment by the US justice system — and by his own country.

I am cross-posting the letter below, in the hope of awakening outrage in the hearts of at least some members of the American public who have decided that the ongoing injustice of Guantánamo is somehow irrelevant.

A letter from Guantánamo, by Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif

To Attorney David Remes who dedicated his efforts to work on my dead case. The case that has been buried by its makers under the wreckage of freedom, justice, and the malicious and cursed politics.

Testimony and Consolation

I offer my dead corpse to the coming Yemeni delegation.

They agreed on the torture and agonies that I went through all those years.

They knew that I am innocent and at the same time ill and that I left my country to seek treatment.

This is also a message to the Yemeni people who bear the responsibility of my death in front of God and the responsibility of all of the other Yemenis inside this prison. This prison is a piece of hell that kills everything, the spirit, the body and kicks away all the symptoms of health from them.

A Testimony of Death

A testimony against injustice and against the propagandists of freedom, justice and equality.

Adnan Farhan Abdulatif while in the throes of death.

156

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Cageprisoners.

Hail Hitler; no, I mean, Hail to the (new) "Chief"! (Excuse the confusion.)

Obama? Obamanation? Like O'(a)bomination, perhaps? Or, O'bomb-a-nation, maybe? A combination thereof?

All of the above.

She certainly has a [freedom] way of communicating and if readers are offended, then they can go to Disney Land.

"Democracies in 2011"
by Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues, arabwomanblues.blogspot.com, Jan. 1, 2011

www.uruknet.info/?p=m73470

Seriously, what does Democracy mean ?

What does it REALLY mean ? Freedom of Speech and Majority Rule ?

Someone define that fucking word to me. Because after 7 years of liberation, I still don't get it.

What does democracy mean ?

The grocer next door is selling toilet paper called Freedom and Democracy. Bought a roll in hard currency....he said to me - only dollars will do.

I found the paper too hard on my ass...

Went back to him, complaining, said to him - this paper is too hard on my soft skin. He told me the price was worth paying...

He had memorized the Madeleine Albright democrat cunt a few years prior...who stated when over half a million soft skins of Iraqi babes went blank with death, that American democratic cunt said - she said - the price was worth it

What does your fucking word - your fucking democracy - mean ? apart from some sore ass caught in some freedom dungeon...apart from a mass grave for children.

I truly appreciate her way of phrasing her views on reality. While I would not use the word "cunt", when it's a woman doing that about another woman and there's some understandable reason for doing so, and I have to admit that there's much of that in this case, well, then I stand back to appreciate what's said; the essence (at least). Anyway, Layla Anwar either has spent time in the US, or she's learned about American language, because I don't think "cunt" is used much outside of the US and possibly Canada, which we know is nextdoor neighbor.

In the US and Canada, a "fag" is a derogative term for homosexuals. In the UK, it is, or at least once was, cigarettes; quite a distinct meaning. So where else do we find people using "cunt" in whatever languages they speak, if they have not been influenced by American usage? "Whore" seems to be a more commonly found term, but "cunt"? Seems American to me.

Well, Layla Anwar's words are targeted at the west; first, the US, and then its western backers, deservedly. So I guess she used fitting language; as she usually (or else always) does.

Spice provides variety and "variety is the spice of life", I've learned. And I agree with that.

But she asks, "What does democracy mean ?". Well, it clearly doesn't have real meaning, in [practice]; it's like Bush Jr said of the Constitution, "just a piece of paper".

what Afghans think. And Henry Kissinger must be having a blast thinking about soldiers today; "dumb stupid animals", he purportedly said and obviously thinks.

"New Year To Mark Intensification Of West’s War In Afghanistan And Pakistan"
by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, Jan. 1, 2011

www.uruknet.info/?p=m73476

(snip)

711 foreign troops were killed in Afghanistan in 2010, a nearly forty percent increase over 2009. By comparison, 60 foreign soldiers were killed in Iraq in 2010, all of them American. Almost 500 U.S. and 213 non-U.S. troops lost their lives in Afghanistan in 2010.

Over 800 Afghan government soldiers were killed in the same period and 2,400 civilians were killed in the first ten months of the year.

A Pentagon official in the Afghan capital estimated that 18,000 attacks were conducted against U.S. and NATO forces in 2010, twice as many as in the preceding year. [1]

Far from any prospect of a decrease in the death toll in the war-ravaged country during the new year, the spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Germany’s Brigadier General Josef Blotz, this week stated that the Afghan war will only intensify in 2011, that "There is no end to the fighting season; we need to keep pressure on the Taliban all over the country." [2]

As though to confirm Blotz’s claim, on December 30 two rockets landed in the main U.S. military base at the Bagram Airfield.

Fighting has increased in the north of Afghanistan where the bulk of 5,000 German troops assigned to NATO are stationed, an area hitherto comparatively peaceful. Bundeswehr forces are engaged in ground combat operations for the first time since the Second World War. Berlin has lost 46 soldiers in the conflict.

Germany recently ordered the latest of 473 Eagle reconnaissance vehicles under a $165 million contract with the U.S. military contractor General Dynamics. The first armored vehicles were delivered to the German armed forces in 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan.

Who the or in hell gives these western imperialist "leaders" (to be polite or PC) the idea that they have some Gold-almighty, I mean God-almighty (or both ?), right to decide what they can do with other people's countries, as well as our own? They do [not] care about Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Timorese, Congolese and other Africans, Latin or So. Americans (plenty of countries), or indigenous peoples anywhere on Earth, as well as soldiers and the rest of us. Well, they care about using us for military enlistment purposes as if we're a bunch of "dumb, stupid animals" (Henry Kissinger speaking of soldiers while reflecting his own image), and they care enough about what we think that they spend an awful lot of time lying to us in order to deceive us, but these are not examples of the kind of caring that I'm talking about.

They do not care in any good sense of the word; at all.

Anyway, Rick Rozoff continued, including about NATO killing "security" guards and Kabul "leadership" purportedly, for media purposes anyway, getting a little pissed off about this; and he refers to some related politics, while also concluding by saying that we are to expect worse or else much worse in 2011 (this year, as of, well, yesterday, now).

(snip)

Chancellor Merkel told German troops in Kunduz province: "What we have here is not just a warlike situation. You are involved in combat as in war." [4]

Unilaterally launched and continued by the US et al, for neither the Taliban nor Afghanistan attacked the West. They're only fighting for defense. How does Angela Merkel feel about this [fact]? Does she dream of becoming Hitler's replacement, today?

She's yet another charlatan politician. There's nothing unusual about that, but that fact is a big problem for us.

(snip)

On Christmas Day General David Petraeus, commander of all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, was in the war zone and stated, "there will be more coordinated military operations on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

He insisted on more "hammer and anvil operations" after revealing that "there had already been coordinated operations on both sides of the border, with Pakistani forces on one side and NATO and Afghan troops on the other." [7]

I'd say, sociopath!, but it'd be [awfully] and infuriatingly PC. He does not care about other people; not innocent people and people trying to defend themselves and their countries, anyway. He's a psychopath.

Afghans wounded in this war:

The following copy of the article includes a video clip (9:27) for a Channel 4 News report filmed in the last week of a month of July after the Bush Jr administration launched an offensive in the province of Helmand, so this is a little out of date. The C4 article in the following page, however, is from Nov. 30, 2010; not Dec., but Nov. 30.

"Video: Huge Rise in War Wounded Civilians in Afghanistan"
by Channel 4 News, Dec. 30, 2010 (Uruknet date)

www.uruknet.info/?p=m73419

This has links in it, but some, if not all, of the links are screwed up. The original copy of the article, for which there's a link at the end of this copy, has the correct links.

The number of war wounded civilians in southern Afghanistan has increased dramatically this year following the military troop surge, an exclusive Channel 4 News investigation has found.

Thousands more patients are being admitted at one hospital in Kandahar alone - a threefold increase on the previous year in an area which has seen vicious fighting.

The number of children falling victim to the fighting has also risen dramatically.

In many cases civilians have lost limbs in explosions caused by improvised explosive devices or mine blasts while many others have suffered gunshot wounds or injuries caused by shelling.

Channel 4 News spoke to hospitals in the south of Afghanistan – areas where the Taliban is strongest, and where coalition forces are fighting hardest.

All of the hospitals said they were seeing major increases in war wounded civilians. One of the doctors, Matteo Dell'Aira, told Channel 4 News: "We have more war wounded than we have ever had in our six years of being here."

- Mirwais Hospital, Kandahar – 163 per cent rise on number of war wounded civilians admitted in 10 months of 2010 to 3,056, compared to 1,159 in whole of 2009

- Emergency Hospital, Lashkar Gah – 89 war wounded civilians admitted in October 2009 – 158 admitted in October 2010, a rise of 77 per cent

- Military hospitals across Afghanistan – Minor rise in civilian casualties and "not surprising" to have more civilians than soldiers treated in its facilities on occasion

- Boost Hospital, Lashkar Gah – does not take in trauma patients for operations, although does take them in for post-operative care - but says civilians with other illnesses prevented from reaching them in time by war

This is backed up by figures from the United Nations mission on the war in Afghanistan. A report on civilian casualties released in summer by the UN showed that civilian deaths and injuries in the country had increased by 31 per cent year-on-year, to 3,268 in the first six months of 2010. The figures obtained by Channel 4 News on civilian injuries are even higher due to the intensity of the fighting in the south of the country - with injuries caused by war, according to our figures, up by between 77 per cent and 163 per cent.

The UN attributed 76 per cent of the incidents on insurgents – up from 53 per cent in 2009.

Deaths and injuries attributed to NATO and Afghan forces fell to 12 per cent.

(snip)

More UN propaganda, but what shall we expect from imperialist controlled UN? Sure, the Afghan resistance forces are partially to blame, but they're defending against the criminal foreign-led war and it's the latter who are responsible. The war is and always has been both illegal and criminal in any other terms, like moral terms, f.e. And the killings by western forces are constantly undercounted, diminished, as has been evidenced rather repeatedly. The UN definitely is not a source to consider reliable for this.

Try to convince me that our political and military "leaderships" [care] about innocent people. Go ahead, try. Come'on, be a sport, and give it a try. How much time do war supporters and cheerleaders have to try to persuade me that they're right? I have a lot of time before I'll ever believe such bullshit. I'll need to be drugged and then it would not be me believing anything; it'd just be effects from drugs.

Colateral damage? Funny, we don't find that concept among other animal species, none of which pillage, plunder, et cetera; none of which are associated with Wall Street; and so on.

A man who I believe was canonized once said that humans are the most disgusting, vile creature that exists and I understand what he means; because while it's an overgeneralization, he nevertheless was very right. He clearly was not meaning to refer to innocent people and was therefore right. No other creatures are vile. We only find that trait among humans, and it's not always easy to call those specimens human when we're also human and are sickened by them, their ways, what they plan, do and say. Calling them reptilian-like is a compliment, for what they represent in this world. Real reptiles are innocent and beneficial creatures; seeming nasty, sometimes, but while innocent and actually beneficial. Now if a few of the poisonous ones could make their way into the circles of DC pols, then we might finally be rid of some of the vile specimens from our species.

Dreams.

(snip)

In Kandahar, at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)-supported Mirwais Hospital, there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of war wounded civilians in 2010.

From January to October this year, the numbers of civilians wounded in the war increased from 133 to 395 – almost tripling in the course of ten months. Injuries range from bullet wounds to limb loss caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In 2009, the hospital admitted 1,159 war wounded civilians over the entire 12-month period. So far in 2010, it has admitted 3,056 war wounded civilians in just the first 10 months of the year – already 163 per cent more than last year.

(snip)

Now, let's see. 133x3 = 399, but C4 News says 395 wounded Afghans showed up at the hospital, saying "almost tripling". Why bother saying "almost"? It's not worth mentioning. But what about wounded Afghans who didn't go to the hospital; or aren't there any who don't get to hospitals? If there are or likely are, then we have over 395 wounded Afghans from this wildly-conducted and US-led assault in Kandahar.

There definitely were many more wounded and killed Iraqis than those who were brought or went to hospitals and morgues. Many families buried their loved ones rather than bringing them to the government morgue(s) out of concern for safety, and not all wounded Iraqis could get to hospitals. I don't know if this happens in Kandahar, but it's a province and I imagine that not every Afghan there can get to the hospital or be brought to a morgue.

In the John Pilger documentary "The War You Don't See" released last month, there's a short interview with Dahr Jamail about some of his on-the-ground reporting from Iraq and Dahr Jamail tells about an Iraqi town or village where he went and there were graves, including one or more mass graves, of Iraqis killed because of the war on Iraq started in March 2003. The Iraqis in these graves evidently were not brought to the morgue and, therefore, would not be officially counted; I believe. If these Iraqis were, then many others weren't; as was sufficiently reported during the war on Iraq. There were plenty of articles about the war on Iraq that reported that far from all Iraqi casualties, wounded and killed, get officially counted; because not all of them are brought to morgues or hospitals and it's for understandable reasons. The documentary by John Pilger is available at Youtube, btw.

The Channel 4 News article continued:

Read more: First hand stories from doctors working in the line of fire in Afghanistan

The numbers of children injured also increased over the year – from 11 war wounded children in January to 68 in October this year. This represents an increase of more than 500 per cent.

More civilians wounded – Lashkar Gah Emergency Hospital

In nearby Lashkar Gah, the story is the same.

(snip)

Among other hospitals referred to, the article also refers to ISAF hospitals and this part is a dark-comedy laugh, sick joke. They really work to help Afghans? My rear!

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