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Afghanistan: Nothing is Good

The Security Council did not give Americans any blank check. The strongest military alliance of the world threatens to break down after eight years of war in Afghanistan.
The West should utilize the Afghanistan conference for an honest stocktaking and analyze why the strongest military alliance of the world threatens to break down
By Ludwig Watzal
[This article published in: Freitag, 1/28/2010 is translated from the German on the Internet,  link to www.freitag.de.]

With her conclusion "nothing is good in Afghanistan," the chairperson of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) bishop Margot Kassmann in her New Year's sermon excited the political elite and its opinion-makers. Her words were more than overdue after over eight years of occupation in Afghanistan. The furious reactions were not overdue. In some reactions, Kassmann was not only accused of political naivety. She was challenged to name alternatives to the presence and war of the West.

Why should the bishop be under that obligation? Why not first those who have waged an illegal war at Hindukusch for more than eight years?

At the Afghanistan conference in London, the immediate ending of this military campaign should be discussed because all legitimation is lacking. The military campaign is purely and simply illegal. In their time, all international law "arguments" or other abstruse legal constructions served as a pretext for taking revenge for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That Afghanistan's government at that time was responsible is claimed with all vehemence but never proven.

Directly after the attacks, Bush called this crime an "act of terrorism" which was true. A day later he spoke of an "act of war," which was not true because no country attacked the US. The parallel to the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor navy base at the end of 1941 was completely ahistorical.

In the ultimatum, the Taliban government in Kabul was called to hand over Osama bin Laden. Concrete evidence that Washington could not bring was necessary. The Afghan government merely signaled its readiness to turn over bin Laden to a Muslim country, which George W. Bush courageously refused and called the Taliban government to immediately deliver bin Laden to the US. In this situation, the UN Security Council made clear the perpetrators and their backers should be brought before a US court. The Security Council did not give Americans any blank check for a military attack according to chapter VII of the UN Charter.


The West should be honest with itself and admit the strongest military alliance of the world threatens to break down like the Soviet Union between 1979 and 1989 after more than eight years of war to an armed resistance and a resistance front.

Admitting the real motives of the war is also vital. Apart from the fact that the US planned an interventio9n in Afghanistan before September 11, 2001, the occupation since that time involves oil pipeline routes and oil- and gas deposits in Central Asia, not noble goals like democracy, freedom, human rights or "western values" as the West asserts. Afghanistan has great importance as a transit-country for a pipeline project. In addition, geopolitical considerations play a crucial part. The expansion of the war to Pakistan contributes to the further destabilization of the whole region.

A central role comes to German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle at this conference. As the representative of an influential NATO member, he should say No to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan. This would point the way to the future. Sending more armed "social workers" and proposing re-socialization measures to the Taliban is na´ve.

Does Westerwelle really know what is in store for Germans? Everyone who says No to Afghanistan's occupation is counted in the "Taliban." That is the majority of the population. Appealing to the Karsai government that lacks any legitimation as a partner contradicts western interests. Deploying soldiers to die for drug barons and an executive corrupt to the bone is cynical.

The longer the West supports the Karsai government, the more untrustworthy becomes championing "western values," which only provokes derisive laughter in the Muslim world. The only conclusion for this Afghanistan conference is withdrawal.


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