"Will it be liberation, occupation or anarchy?"
With Afghanistan still politically unresolved, the
US has created another unstable environment for its democratic project.
By Ash Pulcifer
YellowTimes.org Columnist (United States)
(YellowTimes.org) -- The reason that much of the world is not yet convinced that the U.S. has liberated Iraq is due to the failure of the U.S. to liberate Afghanistan. That failure, to stabilize, secure and fully commit to Afghanistan is of great concern, especially to the Arab world, as they fear that the new phase of "liberation," this time in Iraq, may follow in the foot steps of Afghanistan.
Not only has democracy not been brought to Afghanistan, but the country is, by many standards, even worse off than it was before U.S. "liberation." As brutal as the Taliban were, they brought stability to most of the country, and Afghans knew what the next day would bring. Now, however, the future is uncertain, as Afghans don't know whether they will get caught in the middle of the increasing violence between Islamist insurgents and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, or become another statistic in the thousands of dead civilians as a result of U.S. collateral damage.
The entire country outside of Kabul is run by feuding warlords, constantly vying for power and killing those who get in their way. One such warlord is General Rashid Dostum who was a U.S. ally against the Taliban; journalist Ahmed Rashid describes an encounter with Dostum in his book Taliban: "The first time I arrived at the fort to meet Dostum, there were bloodstains and pieces of flesh in the muddy courtyard. I innocently asked the guards if a goat had been slaughtered. They told me that an hour earlier, Dostum had punished a soldier for stealing. The man had been tied to the tracks of a Russian-made tank, which then drove around the courtyard crushing his body into mincemeat, as the garrison and Dostum watched."
Instead of stopping these warlords from abusing the peasantry, the U.S. military often aids them, supporting one bloody warlord over another. All attempts by the central government of Hamid Karzai to extend ISAF outside of Kabul have been thus far rejected by the United States government, who are afraid that peacekeepers will impede the "mopping up" missions of U.S. forces operating outside the capital. Yet so far no matter how much mopping the U.S. does, the country doesn't get any cleaner and is, in fact, getting filthy as rocket attacks on Kabul and ISAF headquarters continue.
Some pundits argue that the U.S. has intended to keep Afghanistan unstable in order to justify their presence in the region and give the U.S. a firmer foothold in Central Asia. This argument has created suspicion in the world, especially the Middle East, where people fear that the U.S.' liberation of Iraq, like in Afghanistan, will become a quasi-occupation.
Even if the U.S. is desperately trying to stabilize Afghanistan, this does nothing to soothe the fears of the global population: If the U.S. has been unable to improve Afghan society after its "liberation," then how could anyone put the lives of Iraqi civilians into the hands of an administration that has merely replaced a group of thugs with general anarchy? How will a country that has failed to stop Afghanistan from coming dangerously close to civil war stop civil war from breaking out in Iraq, where there are divergent groups of ethnicities and religions historically at each others' throats?
These are the reasons why much of the world is skeptical about Operation Iraqi Freedom. If the U.S. fails as it did in Afghanistan to bring order to Iraq, the resulting outcome could be just as horrible as the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. Critics of U.S. military intervention in Iraq believe that the U.S. should have continued to apply diplomatic pressure, forcing Saddam to reform, rather than creating an unstable power vacuum in a country that has a history of resisting foreign occupation and of dictatorship.
In the meantime, there is not much anyone can do other than watch the Bush administration try to achieve their plans in Iraq. Whether the end game will result in liberation, occupation, or anarchy remains to be seen.
[Ash Pulcifer, a lifelong activist for international human rights, lives in the United States. Ash finds it unacceptable that the world often turns its back to those less fortunate members of our species who are forced to endure poverty and civil strife.]
Ash Pulcifer encourages your comments: apulcifer@YellowTimes.org
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