By RUWAN MUNASINGHE
Dozens of civilians were killed by a drone strike on the city of Herat in Western Afghanistan carried out by the United States on Jan. 8. Local residents reported to Afghan news sources that 60 civilians were killed. The strike apparently targeted Mullah Nangyalai, a member of a group called the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate, which broke away from the leadership of the Taliban. This airstrike is a nefarious act of militarism and must be condemned in the harshest terms.
This drone strike comes only months after a bloody U.S. drone airstrike in September 2019 that attacked nearly 150 farm workers harvesting pine nuts in Eastern Afghanistan (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/afghanistan-dozens-civilians-killed-drone-attack-190919072728303.html). Another U.S drone strike in Southeastern Afghanistan on Dec. 1 completely annihilated a car carrying a 25-year-old mother who had given birth earlier that day and four others, including three of her relatives.
The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is nearly 20 years old. According to Pentagon data, the U.S. military dropped more bombs during the first quarter of 2018 (the latest available data) than all of the years that the Pentagon has data for the war in Afghanistan (https://www.foxnews.com/world/air-force-bombs-afghanistan-dropped). According to Brown University’s Costs of War project, an estimated 157,000 people have died as a direct result of the US-led war in Afghanistan since it began in October 2001, including more than 43,000 Afghan civilians.
According to the UN, the third quarter of 2019 saw the highest level of civilian casualties in the history of the war (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/world/asia/afghanistan-civilian-casualties-un.html). Prior to 2019, civilian casualties in Afghanistan were highest during 2017 to 2018 than any other period in the past decade of the war.
There are currently 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. As recently as Jan. 11, two U.S. soldiers were killed in Kandahar Province by a roadside bomb (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/11/world/asia/afghanistan-american-casualties.html). Punctuated talks between the Taliban and the United States have been developing under the Trump administration.
In early December, the Washington Post published internal documents that revealed the extent to which the U.S. had hidden the truth of the state of the war in Afghanistan from the public (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/investigations/afghanistan-papers/afghanistan-war-confidential-documents/). In short, the papers give a sense of the frustrations of those in power orchestrating the war and how much was wasted in the war.
The Jan. 8 strike occurred at a time when many on the left are focusing on the issue of U.S imperialism following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the ensuing military tensions. The U.S. military has no role in benefiting the lives of working people anywhere in the world.
The U.S. must get out of Asia. However, this will require building a strong antiwar movement in the United States, comprised of working people in solidarity with the victims of U.S. imperialism across the world. The money that Washington spends on militarism could drastically improve the condition of the U.S. working class. This can only happen with a movement directly contesting the power of the U.S. government and the capitalists it serves.
Photo: Parwiz / Reuters