By Nicole Colson | November 21, 2003 | Page 6
PROMISES OF liberation broken by street bombings and stepped-up military operations--months after the supposed end of war. That describes the U.S. war on Iraq--and on Afghanistan, two years after its supposed "liberation" by the Bush administration.
Afghanistan shows the bitter consequences of Washington's brutal "war on terror." The Bush administration and the United Nations (UN) are doing what they can to prop up the puppet government of Washington's stooge, Hamid Karzai. But Karzai has little real authority in Afghanistan.
Fighting has increased in the southern and eastern parts of the country--both between U.S. and allied troops attacking Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, and in a sporadic civil war between the Taliban and rival warlords. Things are so bad that a UN Security Council delegation was forced to visit the country this month to provide a show of support for Karzai's floundering government.
The same week, a car bomb was set off outside a UN office in Kandahar. And as Socialist Worker went to press, a French UN worker was shot to death in the eastern town of Ghazni. In all, 12 aid workers have been killed in the south and southeast of Afghanistan since March.
According to German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, the UN delegation saw how "the lack of security--some call it 'the rule of the gun'--affected the entire Afghan peace process." And Mexico's ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, noted that "Karzai's ability to exercise his authority is eroding."
That's an understatement. Following a recent tank battle between the militias of rival warlords that killed 100 people, Karzai ordered the two to Kabul--and they refused.
According to press reports, rival warlords and the Taliban continue to control large parts of the country--and are escalating their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. The Taliban's Mullah Mohammed Omar reportedly directs operations in much of the country through a 10-man Taliban leadership council that was created in June.
"Since this council was set up, the Taliban jihad has much improved," one Taliban official told Reuters last week. In response to escalating attacks--including the ambush of two CIA agents in October and the death of a U.S. special operations soldier last week--U.S. and coalition forces recently launched "Operation Mountain Resolve," a bombing campaign designed to root out guerrillas in eastern Afghanistan.
"The main objective is against terrorism," U.S. military spokesman Col. Rodney Davis told reporters. "It is focused on destroying anti-coalition elements, disrupting their ability to operate in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan." Yet so far, the U.S. war on "terrorists" in Afghanistan hasn't succeeded in establishing stability--or anything else.
Medical care remains nearly nonexistent, and just 13 percent of the population has access to clean water. In the past two years, Afghan heroin production has increased 19-fold, and today, the country is once again the world's major source of heroin. "There is a palpable risk that Afghanistan will again turn into a failed state, this time in the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists," commented Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in a recent report.
Outside Kabul, threats of violence and an increase in kidnappings have forced many schools to close, particularly in the more conservative southern and eastern parts of the country. Nor has the promise of "liberation" for Afghan women been delivered. Despite a recent media buzz over the participation of "Miss Afghanistan" in the "Miss Earth" beauty pageant, the vast majority of women in Afghanistan are still forced to wear the burqa.
Further, the country's new constitution, revealed last month, does not guarantee women equal rights with men. In fact, one of the members of the commission that drafted the constitution said, "There are some things in which you cannot make women equal, such as in marriage, divorce, testifying in court, inheritance and even leadership of the nation."
All of this was predictable, considering the way that the Bush administration--after promising a "Marshall plan" for Afghanistan--abandoned the country. Of the recent $87 billion request for funding for reconstruction and war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Afghanistan was allocated just $1.2 billion--even though, as The Economist commented, "Afghanistan has more people, more pressing needs and fewer resources of its own." As Washington turns its back on the country, ordinary Afghans are paying the price--yet again.