BY EMRAN FEROZ
The US president may have just said he doesn’t want to kill ’10 million people’, but his policy in Afghanistan seems to say differently,
Recently, US President Donald Trump courted outrage when he claimed that he could end the war in Afghanistan by wiping out the whole country, but he “does not want to kill 10 million people”.
Trump made these controversial comments while meeting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in the Oval Office, talking about current policies and the ongoing peace process in the neighbouring country. Many different people reacted angrily to the president’s genocidal fantasies.
Several Western observers criticised Trump and pointed out that his comments were, as usual, not helpful. Some of them expressed their disgust and wondered why Trump is even considering to wipe out an “ally” – as if it’s OK to talk in such a manner about a non-ally of the United States.
However, the most ironic reactions came from Kabul’s political elites, mostly people who work for the current Afghan government or have close ties to it. Many of them channelled their anger through social media and used very patriotic and even anti-imperialist rhetoric while in many cases, their salaries are paid in US dollars.
Additionally, they started to portray the ‘Afghan nation’ as a unified force that defends itself against foreign interests and invaders as it did throughout history. However, at the same time, they also suppressed the fact that in this very moment, those who fight against foreign soldiers are insurgent groups like the Taliban – the sworn enemies of the Kabul technocrats.
Last but not least, the very same Kabul elitists celebrated Trump’s Afghanistan policies until recently and portrayed him as some “saviour” of so-called Afghan interests against other states, especially against Pakistan whose intelligence service allegedly support the Taliban insurgents.
The government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also reacted to Trump’s comments and demanded a “clarification”, as many media outlets reported. “The Afghan nation has not and will never allow any foreign power to determine its fate,” it said in a statement. Because the very same government might collapse within a few days without American support, such words seem to be far-fetched.
Nevertheless, one crucial thing seems to be ignored in the whole debate. Trump is not only just having genocidal fantasies regarding Afghanistan, but he has also been pushing genocidal policies in the country since he took over the White House. The ongoing peace process between Washington and the Afghan Taliban, which started under Trump’s administration, does not change this reality. American war crimes have reached a peak in Afghanistan since Trump’s election.
In April 2017, the US military dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb, the so-called “Mother of all bombs”, on Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, a crime that already seems to have been forgotten. Until today, it is not known who not how many people were killed by the bomb. The official narrative is, of course, that solely “terrorists”, in that case, Daesh extremists, were killed by the attack. However, several Afghan observers and locals on the ground regularly pointed out that civilians had been hit and that Afghanistan is being used as a testing ground for weapons of mass destruction.
Generally speaking, Trump is literally mass bombing Afghanistan while he talks about peace and possible troop withdrawal. He has often repeated that “nation-building” is over. Now it’s time to hunt and kill “terrorists”.
For that reason, Trump increased drone strikes and all kinds of other aerial operations. In 2018, the US dropped more bombs on Afghanistan than ever before (or than has ever been recorded). More than 7,300 bombs detonated, mostly in the country’s remote rural areas, which led to a massive increase of civilian casualties.
This ‘trend’ continues. Recent United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) numbers revealed that between January and June 2019, more Afghan civilians had been killed by pro-government forces, including the US military, than by insurgent groups.
In total, at least 3,812 people have been killed or injured, but in fact, everyone knows that the figures are much higher. Especially in terms of airstrikes and night raids, the culprits within the Afghan and American forces benefit from UNAMA’s strict methodology, which says that at least three different sources are necessary to confirm every single casualty. Most areas that are haunted by drones or special operation units, like the brutal CIA-backed Khost Protection Force, are isolated, remote and considered to be too dangerous. For that reason, they are barely visited by journalists and human rights observers.
The mass killing of the Afghan people is something Trump does not care about much. As it is well known, Afghanistan is just another “shithole country” for the American president, which means that the people who live there are not really considered as equal human beings who have a right to live in peace and dignity. Although Trump said that he did not want to kill 10 million Afghan people, it would also not make a big difference for him doing so. He already wiped out whole landscapes, he continues to bomb villages and kill “terrorists” (which, of course, fuels more extremism and militancy).
The only people who might have lost their face are those selfish Afghan elites and technocrats who thought that a mass-murdering, xenophobic, sexist and racist maniac who happened to become the most powerful politician in the world, would “save” them. The maniac himself just taught them better.