It’s hard to know where to start. Kabul has fallen to the Taliban as many in the peace movement knew it eventually would. Apparently, the President and his advisors had no clue it would happen so fast and there was no plan B for evacuations. Now they are scrambling to get people out. So what are some of the immediate repercussions of this latest U.S. foreign policy fiasco?
First off, the war in Afghanistan is not over for the U.S. troops coming home. It will also be a long time recovering for the Afghan people, almost all of whom have been brutally affected by these past 20 years of war and occupation. For many U.S. combat veterans of that war, like retired Maj. Danny Sjursen and others, it will never end. In his article, “Self-delusion Is the Cruelest of All,” he gives voice to what will be a lifelong moral injury suffered by many of our veterans. Danny writes, “What’s happening right now is a collective exposure of America’s—and Americans’—collective guilt. An exposure of false promises, unconscionable hubris, and the gap between grandiose grandstanding U.S. rhetoric and the ugly reality of ground-level failure and futility. The fall of Kabul also exposes exactly who and what America really is in the world, and who and what it is not.”
Kathy Kelly, who has been to Afghanistan multiple times and works with the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has been getting calls from desperate people in Afghanistan. She writes of our obligation to dismantle the warfare systems that have brought “havoc, chaos, bereavement, and displacement to Afghanistan.” (You can hear her and Medea Benjamin speaking with Indypendent editor John Tarleton, on the August 18 edition of WBAI’s Indy News Hour.)
Secondly, the war in Afghanistan alone is said to have cost U.S. taxpayers over $2.2 trillion—that money went to further impoverish the second-poorest country in the world, destroy and poison the land and take the precious lives of over 240,000 human beings and countless animals.
And the occupation didn’t do a damn thing for the majority of women in Afghanistan either. In 2001, Afghanistan had the world’s highest rate of infant mortality, and is in the same place today. In 2018, Time magazine reported, “Afghanistan is still ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman. Despite Afghan government and international donor efforts since 2001 to educate girls, an estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school. Eighty-seven percent of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16. A September watchdog report called the USAID’s $280 million Promote program – billed the largest single investment that the U.S. government has ever made to advance women’s rights globally – a flop and a waste of taxpayer’s money.”
We need to be clear where most of those taxpayer dollars went. As Marine General Smedley Butler said, “War is a racket,” and it is into the pockets of Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and other weapons contractors and their executives and shareholders that most of that the $2.2 trillion blood money has disappeared. This is who profits from the horror of war.
U.S. wars and militarism are destroying the planet. In this issue of Peace and Planet News we include the trailer for Abby Martin’s upcoming film, Earth’s Greatest Enemy, with Dahr Jamail, author of The End of Ice. The trailer posits that our very survival on the planet is primarily threatened by one single entity that eclipses all others—the Pentagon. Looking through this current edition of Peace and Planet News, we see it’s all connected—every article in some way is related to war and the efforts to end war—either actual shooting wars or war on the environment and on indigenous peoples.
It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. If truth can be so tortured and twisted by politicians and the corporate media that lie and hide the reality and convince basically decent people that there is some logic to killing and destroying lives and/or the earth itself—then to survive, we have a moral, ethical, and practical obligation to expose the lies and stand for truth.
Another kind of war is being waged in and among the rivers, lakes, and lands of three different indigenous reservations in Minnesota. The Canadian multinational Enbridge is, despite grassroots indigenous resistance, attempting to finish laying pipe for the dirtiest oil on the planet to flow through. Winona LaDuke explains why she and others are facing police brutality to resist this Line 3 pipeline: “This is the place where the wild things are. The place where rivers are clear. … It’s our place. Wild rice, it’s the only place in the world that grows it. And Enbridge wants to put the last tar sands pipeline through this. … It’s the last tar sands pipeline because everybody’s divesting. … It’s like the end of the tar sands era. And it’s this Canadian multinational that is running roughshod over northern states and the … people who live there, because we’re the people that live in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan where the Enbridge main line is. We’re the people here, and they’re running over us [and] a fifth of the world’s [fresh] water. And we’re saying, ‘it’s time to quit.’”
In yet another battle to save the water, land, and the lives of billions of animals cruelly sacrificed every year as Factory Farms pollute the water and earth while they rake in monstrous profits, in “No ‘Fixing’ This Industry,” Mike Ferner provides us with a powerful expose of the reality of Factory Farms. Mike writes, “If Lake Erie Advocates, with its billboards, legal challenges, picket lines and airplane banners is successful, it will be to the extent we get enough people to stop, as Huxley said, ‘living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.’”
In these dire times, concerned world citizens cannot become “adjusted” to the crimes against life waged by ravenous capitalists and their Pentagon co-conspirators. The activists in this issue are providing us with role models and inspirational anecdotes to lead us into a better world. We must follow their examples if we are to survive.
Tarak Kauff is the editor-in-chief of Peace and Planet News. He was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962 and is a lifetime member and former board member of Veterans For Peace. He is a longtime activist for peace, justice, and the environment.