When Rumsfeld noted that international law allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off.
“No,” he yelled. “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass.” – Richard Clarke
This quote has always stood out, especially for Afghanistan.
It is amazing how much this war is still celebrated on the left. I routinely encounter apologists who accept the official narrative that we were overthrowing the Taliban and bringing democracy to the country.
This is not a good war.
It is an illegal war.
It is an immoral war.
Our aim was not to overthrow the Taliban because we just cannot stand to watch people suffer under tyrants. A brief overview of American foreign policy (read Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky) for the last couple of centuries reveals that we do more than withstand it. We support it. We participate in it. We finance it.
No, we took sides on a civil war. We joined forces with the Northern Alliance. That should be enough to dispel the myth that we are there for liberation. Our liberal use of force that routinely consumes the lives of civilians is another example. How many times do we need to blow up a wedding party, or how many videos need to be leaked showing the sadistic behavior of our soldiers, or how many times do we need to shoot a man for yelling and then shoot his brother and three women? This is occupation, not liberation. Our lack of support for Malalai Joya and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) is more evidence that we could give a shit less about the rights of women.
Back to the above quote, Rumsfeld was right. International law only allows the use of force to prevent future attack, not for retribution. It is shameful that the moral behind this can be lost on Americans. The terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 was no excuse to wage war.
Here are some things we need to keep in mind.
(1) The UN Charter permits the use of force if one is under an armed attack or if the UN Security Council votes to authorize it. The UN never authorized our use of force. Between September 11 and October 7 there was not another attack. It is clear this war was for retribution and not to prevent another attack. We are not defending ourselves.
(2) We did not know was responsible for the attacks when we attacked Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. Several months after our invasion and occupation it was publicly admitted by the FBI Director that we only thought we knew who was behind the attacks.
(3) The Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden on numerous occasions and Bush rejected every offer. It is also worth pointing out that at the same time Haiti was asking the US for Toto Constant, a terrorist wanted for the deaths of thousands of Haitians.
(4) In late 2001 over one thousand tribal leaders from Afghanistan trekked to Peshawar, Pakistan to participate in a conference. The only thing they unanimously agreed on was their opposition to US bombing.
(5) The war occurred during the winter and disrupted aid to the people of Afghanistan, putting tens of millions at risk of starvation and death. This pattern of exposing the civilian population to danger has persisted. The Afghan government has tried and tried to get the US to get their approval for the attacks but Bush and Obama has resisted. We will continue attacking the country and there is nothing our puppet government can do about it.
We are waging a war of aggression (allegedly) for retribution against one of the poorest and most defenseless countries in the world, and we didn’t even know if they were involved in what we were seeking retribution for. And on top of that the general population that we have put enormous risks on and who routinely pays with their lives via our attacks or being sent to Guantánamo surely had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks even if the Taliban or al Qaeda did – our victims are also the victims of our so-called enemy.
Propping up warlords and drug lords is not how democracy is born, nor is it what liberation is made of. That we are putting up bases (in and around the country) and are encircling Iran is likely not to be a coincidence. This is about empire. For decades American imperialism brewed hatred and resentment. How could it not? The terrorist attacks on 9-11 were just an example of the consequences of that. We have exploited it to escalate it. To even entertain the notion that this war is somehow different and not at all relative to the centuries of policies even when the facts don’t support the claim is just delusional.