Today, the New York Times reported that the American death toll in Afghanistan has reached 1000. I think it’s worth taking note of this “grim milestone” here at RE/VISIONIST for several reasons.
Neither the war in Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan receives front-page attention anymore, despite the fact that violence and killing go unabated. This war in particular has been branded and marketed as a fight for women’s rights, framed with the goal of helping young girls go to school (Laura Bush has been at the forefront of this campaign.) Afghan women have been portrayed as helpless victims of Islam, which has come to justify the violence.
In Iraq, we were told we had to go to war because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003 – yet now in 2010, we are still there, and the reason somewhere along the way turned into ‘’bringing democracy to the Iraqi people.” In Afghanistan, the “War on Terror” led U.S. troops there beginning in 2001 to fight Al-Qaeda, protected by the Taliban-controlled government. Nine years later, though, everything has changed. We too often are fed the “women’s rights” argument.
In reality, bombing infrastructure, ripping apart communities, killing the husbands and children of women, and killing the women themselves is detrimental to the rights of women. This is not to mention the rape of both American women soldiers and Iraqi and Afghan women by U.S. troops.
I do not support many laws and practices in Afghanistan that oppress women and children. But a U.S-led imperial attack on a country not only exacerbates existing problems, it also creates new problems by placing Afghans in a colonial position. Needless to say, war, violence, and terror committed against Afghans does not set the country on a path to peace and stability.
In memory of the 1000 American soldiers who have lost their lives, today we too must remember the countless lives lost and lives destroyed by the American invasion. It is difficult to determine how many Afghans have been killed as a result of the war, but Wikipedia has an entry with some helpful footnotes and links: Civilian casualties of the War in Afghanistan (2001-present.)
I also recommend checking out the website of RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan,) an organization founded in 1978 dedicated to social justice and human rights. They update their news feed daily: The Reality of Life in Afghanistan.
– Rosamund Hunter