Brett Wilkins / Common Dreams
(August 16, 2021) — Amid the lightning collapse of Afghanistan’s US-backed government and the all-but-certain return of Taliban rule, anti-war activists on Monday stressed that diplomacy, not bombs or the military-industrial complex, is the only path to lasting peace.
The stunning but predictable Taliban reconquest of Afghanistan marks the end of the nearly 20-year US-led war that cost the lives of more than 200,000 Afghans, displaced over five million more, and diverted at least $2 trillion in American taxpayer funds that progressive critics said could have been better spent on programs of domestic and international social uplift and well-being.
As the war ends where it began — with the Taliban in control of most of Afghanistan — the prospect of the country becoming a so-called “failed state” and haven for militant groups like al-Qaeda has prompted numerous observers to speculate that US troops will return, and not just in the “over-the-horizon” operational capacity touted by President Joe Biden and Pentagon brass.
Peace advocates, however, emphasized the imperative to pursue diplomatic over military solutions to regional problems, with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) — the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 authorization for the invasion of Afghanistan and so-called War on Terror — asserting that “there has never been, and will never be, a US military solution in Afghanistan.”
Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, said in a weekend statement that “the United States can best help mitigate violence today not with bombs, but with diplomacy, and by supporting efforts to build peace.”
“Nearly two decades of military intervention and occupation did not build lasting peace,” said Miles. “No number of bombs dropped, no length of time occupied, would have.”
“Our responsibility toward Afghanistan does not end with the end of our military occupation,” Miles added. “Just the opposite: Only now that we may finally recognize the failure of the war-first approach can we fully start down the long, difficult path of peace.”
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led peace group CodePink, demanded accountability for “those responsible for 20 years of epic failure,” while warning that “now we have to stop the military-industrial complex from dragging us into new wars.”
A shout out to all who joined CODEPINK and other peace groups to oppose the invasion of Afghanistan. From Bush to Obama, we called for our troops to come home. Now we have to stop the military-industrial complex from dragging us into new wars. #DefundThePentagonpic.twitter.com/Za1znBhrF0
— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) August 15, 2021
Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore echoed Benjamin’s call to slash US military spending, tweeting: “Defund the military-industrial complex (increase funding for veterans!), defund the NSA, defund Homeland Security.”
Warren Gunnels, staff director for the US Senate Budget Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), argued that “the only thing that we ‘accomplished’ by going into Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan was to put trillions of taxpayer dollars into the military-industrial complex and destroy millions of lives — period, full stop.”
“It’s time to stop repeating the same mistakes over and over again,” Gunnels asserted.
The US war on Afghanistan wasn’t “pointless”, it enriched precisely who it was meant to. Companies that profit from war get richer as the world burns. Don’t forget this as politicians & weapons lobbyists try to justify the next war for “humanitarian” concerns! #DivestFromWarpic.twitter.com/Y8dJpGJigC
— CODEPINK (@codepink) August 16, 2021
Now would be a good time to cut America’s $740,000,000,000 defense budget and reinvest funding in human needs.
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) August 16, 2021
Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director of the racial and economic justice group Project South, tweeted that it “should be clear by this point that the only ones who benefited from the US war on Afghanistan were war-profiteering politicians and corporations while countless lives were destroyed.”
“Remember this,” added Shahshahani, “the next time the US war machine is pushing for yet another invasion.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
“Afghanistan: Who’s to Blame?” A CODEPINK Webinar
Afghanistan: Who’s to Blame and What Next with Matthew Hoh, Dr. Zaher Wahab, Phyllis Bennis, and Ann Wright, moderated by Medea Benjamin. If you missed the program, want to watch it again, and/or want to pass it onto your friends and colleagues, here are links to do so:
• Audio podcast on Spotify
• Audio Podcast on Apple Podcasts
Please follow Ann @AnnWright46, Matthew @MatthewPHoh, Phyllis @phyllisbennis, and Medea @medeabenjamin and keep an eye out for articles and talks by Dr. Zaher Wahab. If you haven’t done so already, here is a way you can take action for the people of Afghanistan:
Petition: US Accountability for Afghanistan
After 20 years of US invasion and occupation, the US-backed Afghan government has collapsed and the Taliban is returning to the position of power they occupied 20 years ago. Chaos, panic, desperation, and uncertainty reign. We call on the Biden administration to do the following:
Dear President Biden and Secretary Blinken,
The rapid collapse of the US-backed Afghan government lays bare the immense failure and destruction caused by 20 years of US military interventions. Urgent action is required to mitigate the crisis that US’s longest war has created. We call on you to:
• Recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan and establish and maintain diplomatic relations with them;
• Support UN efforts to create a humanitarian corridor and guarantee safe passage for humanitarian workers to help the large displaced population;
• Expand qualification categories for Afghan refugees coming to the US & reduce the paperwork required to qualify
• Cease all bombings and CIA paramilitary involvement;
• After US evacuations are complete, remove US forces, except for a residual protective force at the US embassy for possible recognition of a new government;
• Do not sanction the Taliban/Afghanistan. Sanctions hurt common people, while those who are elite and in power evade them. The Afghan people have been hurt enough by the US and should not now be subjected to US sanctions.
In the days, weeks, and months to come, accountability will be vital.
The US must learn from this debacle by investigating, and holding people accountable, for 20 years of epic failure. The US must cease its military interventions around the world and cut the runaway Pentagon budget.
We must stop destabilizing the Middle East and Southwest Asia, including lifting sanctions on Iran, stopping weapons export to the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and the UAE, and pulling our troops out of Iraq and Syria.
We call on you today to act with responsibility to the Afghan people and tomorrow, with accountability for all the horror and destruction that US militarism has and is continuing to cause.
Afghan, Haitian and Honduran women refugees all need help and financial support! Our focus this month is to help airlift Afghan women from Afghanistan. It costs between $1500–$5000 to relocate a woman refugee. Please give generously to support a woman in her hour of need!