Imagine a suicide bomber blowing himself up in New York City and killing 95 people. It would be big news on television and on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers. Everyone in the United States would be talking about it, especially if the Taliban claimed credit for it.
It’s somewhat different when it happens in Afghanistan, where a suicide bomber just killed 95 people and injured 158 others in Kabul. Yes, it’s big new over there but not as big over here, at least not as big compared to how it would be if it happened in Manhattan.
But there is one thing that we should all keep in mind: That while the attacker herself, along with the Taliban, obviously bear direct responsibility for the attack, it is the U.S. government, through its interventionist foreign policy, that is indirectly responsible for the ongoing chaos, death, and destruction in Afghanistan, just like it is in Iraq, Libya, and other parts of the world where it has intervened.
First of all, let’s recall the motive behind the 9/11 attacks: no, not hatred for America’s “freedom and values” but rather retaliation for what the U.S. government had been doing to people in the Middle East after the Cold War against Russia was (supposedly) over. The U.S. government had been killing scores of people in Iraq, not only in its Persian Gulf intervention but also in the more than a decade of brutal sanctions against the Iraqi people. The official indifference among U.S. officials to those killings was encapsulated in the words of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, who told “Sixty Minutes” that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions was worth it. By worth it, she meant regime change in Iraq.
Today, some Americans remain convinced that Afghanistan was a “good war” because it was, they say, justified. They buy into the notion that the Taliban government, which was ruling Afghanistan, was complicit in the 9/11 attacks by knowingly and intentionally providing bin Laden and al-Qaeda with a base of operations from which the 9/11 attacks were supposedly planned and launched.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The U.S. government didn’t invade Afghanistan because the Taliban were somehow complicit in the 9/11 attacks. It invaded Afghanistan because of the refusal of the Afghan government to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for bin Laden.
For one thing, U.S. officials never provided any evidence that the Taliban government was complicit in the attacks. That’s undoubtedly because they never had such evidence.
Moreover, after the 9/11 attacks, Bush went to the United Nations to seek a resolution authorizing an attack on Afghanistan. The UN turned him down. Ask yourself: If the U.S. believed that a foreign nation had initiated an attack on the United States, would it go to the UN to ask permission to retaliate? Not a chance. It would simply retaliate.
For another thing, Bush made it clear that if the Taliban government turned bin Laden over, the U.S. would be satisfied. That means that if the Taliban had complied with Bush’s extradition demand for bin Laden, there never would have been a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. If Bush, the Pentagon, and the CIA were genuinely convinced that the Taliban were complicit in the attacks, would they really have given the Taliban a pass in return for delivering bin Laden? Not a chance.
All the chaos, mayhem, death, and destruction in Afghanistan for the past 16 years is because the Taliban refused to extradite bin Laden to the United States, not because the Taliban were in some way complicit in the 9/11 attacks.
It’s important to keep something else in mind: The United States and Afghanistan did not have an extradition treaty. That means that Afghanistan was under no legal obligation to turn bin Laden over. Nonetheless, knowing that bin Laden would never receive a fair trial at the hands of the Pentagon and the CIA, the Taliban expressed an interest in turning bin Laden over to an independent nation that would guarantee a fair trial. Bush, the Pentagon, and the CIA summarily rejected that offer.
That’s why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, killed, tortured, and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of people, and bombed the country to smithereens — because the Taliban refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional extradition demand.
It’s also why the invasion was not limited to simply capturing or killing bin Laden but also extended to a regime-change operation against the Taliban itself.
That’s why there has been a civil war in Afghanistan ever since. Everyone, especially the Taliban, knows that the U.S. invasion installed one of the U.S. government’s famed puppet regimes, one that is every bit as tyrannical, corrupt, and brutal as other puppet regimes that U.S. interventionism has installed into power (Iran, Guatemala, and Chile come to mind). A large segment of the Afghan populace, including the Taliban, are never going to accede to a puppet regime that has been installed in their country by a foreign power, especially the U.S. government.
Keep in mind something else: Most of the people — I’d say 99 percent — who the U.S. government has killed, tortured, arrested, or incarcerated in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Most of them have been killed for resisting the puppet regime that the U.S. government installed into power or in resistance to the U.S. occupation of their country.
It’s not the first time that U.S. interventionism has thrown a nation into a horrific civil war. That occurred in 1953 in Guatemala. The CIA’s ouster of that nation’s democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz, and his replacement by a brutal, corrupt, and tyrannical U.S. military puppet threw entire nation into a civil war that lasted some 30 years and that killed more than a million people.
Today? The best thing the U.S. government could do for the Afghan people today is to apologize, withdraw all U.S. forces and bring them home, and leave the Afghan people alone. Yes, their country will still be embroiled in a deadly civil war, one which could even end up ending the U.S. puppet regime and restoring the Taliban to power. But at least the U.S. government would no longer be throwing gasoline on the fire with its ongoing campaign of bombs and assassination. It would no longer be making a bad situation, which its intervention produced, worse.