Tariq Shadid: What about Afghanistan?

By Tariq Shadid
Special to PalestineChronicle.com

While initially having been applauded by the American public for bringing down the dictatorship of Saddam Hussain, operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ has proven to eventually have had such disastrous consequences for the patient, that no one dares to call it a success today.

In fact, President Bush is now getting it from all sides, including from people within his own ranks, to the level that he has threatened the use of his veto, a clear sign of his meager margin of support even among Republicans.

But what is a really interesting phenomenon, is that despite the vast and increasing number of parallels with the situation in Afghanistan, the latter issue is not frequently being brought up in these discussions. Isn’t it the easiest way to topple the applecart, with Bush now fighting his battle from a corner?

If you are criticizing someone over his actions in a specific instance, and he tries to defend himself with invalid and weak arguments, isn’t it your dream option to dig up an instance from an earlier period where a similar mistake was made?

However, it might be that since the occupation of Afghanistan was sold to the American people as the knee-jerk response of revenge for the 9/11 attacks, this is an issue that emotionally involves many more people, than the Iraq catastrophe does. This seems to be the most likely explanation, since rational arguments would sooner support confronting the Bush administration with causing two similar catastrophes in a row.

In Iraq, there were supposedly ‘weapons of mass destruction’. In Afghanistan, there was supposedly Osama Bin Laden, the alleged but unproven perpetrator of the attacks on New York in 2001.

In Iraq, there was a heinous dictatorial regime, a danger to its own citizens – usually, the fact that the US and Israel had lobbied for a 12-year boycott which also cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, was conveniently left unmentioned. In Afghanistan, there was a heinous and medieval Taliban regime, a danger to its own citizens. And usually, the fact that this same regime had been rather more of an ally to the United States in earlier days until this no longer suited their goals, was conveniently left unmentioned.

In Iraq, the toppling of the Saddam government, and the replacement of it by a puppet regime, has led to a horrifying civil war, and vigorous resistance by the Iraqis, costing the lives of thousands of American soldiers. In Afghanistan, with its similar unstable puppet regime, the resistance is growing stronger by the month, and soldiers from the US, as well as from countries dragged into the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ regularly lose their lives, as well as the scores of Afghan civilians they kill.

In Iraq, the future is unforeseeable – there is no visible end to the strategy of occupation and regime change, no clear path towards stability. In Afghanistan, the same can be said, and efforts by the occupation forces there are failing, as the number of attacks that target the troops increases every month. The 12 billion dollars of American tax payers’ money that the USA spends every month, are not exclusively going to Iraq – they involve the cost of both wars.

Do the American people feel they betray themselves, if they acknowledge that even the Afghanistan adventure, the aggression that was dealt from the pain of 9/11, was and is as ridiculous as the Iraq disaster, only less visible, and on a relatively lower scale of violence?

Why do they fail to realize, that president Bush, if fried over his reckless Iraq adventure, cannot be cleared from the exact same strategic mistakes in Afghanistan?

One cannot blame the heavily misinformed American public, for overlooking the obvious, and failing to address this issue loudly in their media. One can, however, wonder at those in Congress and in the Senate, who cannot claim the same level of misinformation and manipulation, and who are closer to the microphones. They can ask the critical questions, which enable the American people to finally demand full clarity on all the issues involved.

While those hit by the hurricane Katrina are still receiving treatment at a level that would embarrass most countries in the Third World, the Bush administration, which can barely claim any success either in internal or international affairs, is still allowed to escape impeachment.

To err is human. To err repetitively, perhaps also is. You can blame Bush, but what about the American people? To watch repetitive errors, and undergo them in a docile way, while failing to utilize the existing constitutional possibilities for tackling them, is that also human? Or are these signs of indoctrination, and of manipulation?

It would be interesting to conduct a sociological study that investigates why the citizens of the world’s ‘Champion of Democracy’ are displaying the mass-psychological symptoms of a people living under a dictatorship. When a country’s president, in a democracy, has a track-record as appalling as this one, you have to impeach him even if you like him, simply to protect the integrity of your democracy.

And if this doesn’t happen in the USA in the coming period – then the word democracy will lose its meaning in any debate on American foreign policy, if it hasn’t already.

-Tariq Shadid is an outspoken advocate for the Palestinian cause, and board member of the Palestinian Community in the Netherlands. He regularly writes articles for the Palestine Chronicle. He is a surgeon by profession, and also founder of the web project ‘The Musical Intifada at www.musicalintifada.com

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